17 experts advise on what’s to come this year. Spoiler: Data factors big.
The Innovate Conference for the Advancement of Business Travel offered business travel executives the opportunity to articulate priorities and recommendations.
For years, Airbnb has been luring individual travelers
away from their managed travel programs. Now it’s making moves to lure in corporate
travel managers, as well.
On Monday, the company launched tools that allow corporate
travel managers to view employee bookings and itineraries at Airbnb properties,
export companywide financial data and reports in real time and centralize
company billing for those bookings.
“[Airbnb Business Travel] launched initially a year ago
and started working with a group of companies, learning from how they operated
their business travel programs,” Airbnb business travel lead Marc McCabe told BTN on Monday. (BTN last spoke with McCabe in March.)
“Increasingly, we just got the same kind of feedback again and again: that
companies need to be able to know where their employees are when they're out on
the road and they need to have an understanding of the total set of data that's
being collected around Airbnb bookings and be able to report on that internally
Some of the companies Airbnb worked with to understand
industry needs included Salesforce.com, Google and TBWA, and McCabe said Airbnb
Business Travel now has contracts with more than 250 companies. Those contracts
provide tools for corporate bookings but do not ensure any rate discounts at
The new tools don’t change the booking process much for
the individual traveler. A travel manager can either invite an employee to book
through a special section of the site, or an employee can book on the main site
and apply his or her company code at checkout. The company also can choose to
centralize billing with Airbnb, eliminating the need for an individual employee
to pay for a booking upfront and expense it to the company later.
The new dashboard does not give program administrators control
over which of Airbnb’s more than 1.5 million listings are visible to their travelers.
“We're not doing that right now,” McCabe said. “The travelers are
very easily able to do this for themselves. We have a number of amenities and filters
that they can choose through to select different properties. Typically,
business travelers, they know what they want.”
Still, travel managers have expressed concern about making sure
properties booked by employees are suitable and safe. Media outlets like Tnooz
and The Company Dime have reported that Airbnb is attempting to change that. This
month, the company began a pilot program in San Francisco that aggregates tailored,
“business-ready” properties with features likes 24-hour check-in,
whole-property rental (no shared spaces) and working fire and carbon monoxide
Airbnb declined to comment on the pilot.
In July 2014, Airbnb partnered with Concur to integrate into its
TripLink app to provide visibility into bookings and spend. McCabe said similar
partnerships might be in the company’s future, stating that Airbnb is working
informally with a few players in the “business travel
ecosystem” to see how it could integrate with them. McCabe declined to name names.
“We're very open to exploring relationships with agencies,” he
said. “Nothing's off the table. We just want to make sure we're doing it in a
way that's supporting the business and supporting the business traveler, as
Business bookings make up 10 percent of companywide Airbnb revenue, a percentage McCabe said Airbnb is looking to increase.
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