Travel2020: Airbnb bets on bedding the business traveler
Tuesday, December 11, 2018
As more and more road warriors turn to Airbnb for their overnight lodging needs, the company is gaining insights into how business travelers travel: where they go, where they prefer to stay, and what they do when visiting a new city — and how those factors are changing in interesting ways.
Traditional business travel hubs like London, Paris, New York, Los Angeles and Sydney are giving way to new corridors of surging growth, especially in Latin America, Asia and Africa, according to the upstart lodging technology company.
Some of the fastest-growing locations for business travelers include cities in Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, South Korea, and South Africa, including:
- Mar Del Plata, Argentina (624 percent year-on-year increase in bookings)
- Guarujá, Brazil (594% YoY increase in bookings)
- Aguascalientes, Mexico (594% YoY increase in bookings)
- Gwangju, Korea (520% YoY increase in bookings)
- Pietermaritzburg, South Africa (465% YoY increase in bookings)
Best Laid Plans
For all travelers on Airbnb, the average trip is booked more than 35 days in advance. But, business travelers book with a little less lead time — business trips are being booked on average around 20 days in advance.
- Business travelers from cities in Taiwan, the U.S., and Germany book the furthest in advance.
- Business travelers from cities in France, Norway, and Mexico book with the least amount of lead time.
- Globally, those identifying as male book overall trips on average 32 days in advance, and for business trips they average 19 days in advance.
- Globally, those identifying as female book overall trips on average 40 days in advance, and for business trips they average 27 days in advance.
Airbnb for Work: Is This Working?
According to the 2018 GBTA Annual Global Report & Forecast, global business travel spending reached $1.33 trillion in 2017, advancing 5.8 percent over 2016 levels, and is forecast to advance another 7.1 percent in 2018 up to $1.7 trillion by 2022. How that spend can be saved or else optimized may be another piece of the discussion.
Airbnb has been a part of that discussion, especially as business travelers and corporate travel departments find their way to “Airbnb for Work.” Originally launched in 2014 as Airbnb for Business, the site sought to ease the pain of the traveling for road warriors by presenting easy options for lodging in fitting accommodations set in urban and in-demand locales. And some 700,000 companies have signed up — a spike from a year ago when the count was at 250,000.
The Airbnb for Work platform recently rolled out new strategic directions to its offerings aimed at fostering a sense of belonging among this class — even at work. Airbnb is expanding into three new areas to help companies attract, retain, and motivate talent:
- Experiences on Airbnb for team-building
- Airbnb Homes for offsites and meetings
- Airbnb for people relocating for work
Team Building: Catching the Fall
According to Korn Ferry, companies with engaged employees make 2.5 times the revenue and are 87 percent more likely to retain their employees, with team building being one of the most effective ways to foster engagement within a company. When people show vulnerability to each other and participate in activities together, they connect on a deeper level than when simply going out for drinks. And, what’s good for people is good for businesses.
Unorthodox perks are an essential way to attract, retain and motivate top talent. Experiences, not cash, are the new corporate bonus. Journeys of self-fulfillment and discovery can produce the kind of creative sparks and life-clarifying moments that seldom come when staring dead-eyed at another PowerPoint.
Airbnb group Experiences— from sailing lessons to pastry-making classes with a Michelin chef — help teams bond and form meaningful connections. These newly featured Experiences for professionals are currently available in some 800 markets around the world in a number of categories, including wellness, team-building, and social impact.
Airbnb Kitchen Table Meetings
Whether it’s the freedom to work remotely or collaborate outside of the office, Gallup reports workers who spent 60-80 percent of their time away from the office had the highest rates of engagement.
The spaces where people spend time away from the office make a big difference. Sterile conference rooms may not be the most motivating of environments and might actually foster more stress than creativity. Relaxing and productive environments help people open up to connect and contribute — they help teams achieve their shared goals more effectively.
With this in mind, Airbnb for Work offers a collection of homes in various locations where teams can create and collaborate. These are homes in resort locations and urban locations where hosts have shown their unique spaces to be suitable for events. Most of these will have work-friendly amenities such as Wi-Fi, self-check-in, and other conveniences.
A recent Amex Global Business Travel report notes rising demand for non-traditional meeting spaces is expected to continue to outpace growth in demand for other property types. In addition to homes, there are nearly 3,000 castles and 1,400 treehouses around the world on the Airbnb platform.
Comfortable Relocation for Work
According to BDO, nearly 20 percent of employees around the world are eager to relocate.
But moving is stressful. Friendships are tested; a partner’s career may be disrupted, and in a new place hardly anything can feel warm and familiar. Acclimating to a new community can be one of the most challenging parts of a move.
So much so that according to a Right Management survey, more than 40 percent of international assignments are judged to be failures by senior executives, with cultural adjustment issues being a top reason. Most people want to test out neighborhoods or be near new schools for their children (since 35 percent of corporate moves involve children). People want to feel grounded the instant they move to a new place.
To this end, Airbnb is expanding its Work platform to address things that can help professionals instantly feel a sense of place and connect to their new communities. This might mean choices, such as a spacious modern condo in a trendy area, moving with the family into a spacious ranch home with a backyard in a fitting school district, or checking out how it feels to launch a new chapter from a Victorian classic near the office. Finding a temporary home that actually feels like a home (access to a kitchen, washer/dryer, etc.) provides a much-needed sense of familiarity that can help people cope with the chaos of a relocation.
The Way They Were (Traveling)
In tandem with this growth, Airbnb is seeing trends in the way people travel for work with Airbnb:
Bleisure (combining business trips with leisure stays)
Business travelers continue to tack on weekend days to explore the cities they’re traveling to. More than 30 percent of Airbnb for Work bookings in the past year include at least one weekend night.
“Traditional” business trips
A year ago, the average trip on Airbnb was six nights or more; today, the average stay with Airbnb for Work is about five days, and the fastest growing segment of trips is three nights or less. Business travelers are increasingly using Airbnb for shorter trips, which they may have booked hotels for in the past.
Nearly 60 percent of Airbnb for Work trips in the last year had more than one guest. Of the 60 percent of Airbnb for Work trips with more than one guest, nearly 40 percent of had three or more guests. Teams are traveling together to bond and collaborate.
Extended stays and relocations being booked on Airbnb range from long business trips or training sessions that require several weeks away, to on-site projects that can last several months to a year.
In addition to working directly with companies, industry partners such as SAP Concur are helping to drive momentum for this hospitality option. The number of SAP Concur customers expensing Airbnb stays increased by 42 percent from 2016 to 2017, and includes 63 percent of SAP Concur’s Fortune 500 customers.
In the past year, the top 10 Airbnb for Work destinations were:
- Los Angeles
- New York
- South Bay, California (Silicon Valley)
- San Francisco
- Washington, D.C.
Best Kept Secrets
Business travelers originating from the U.S., the U.K., Canada, Australia, and Germany book the most Experiences when traveling for work. When on the road, some of the most-booked Experiences, globally, by business travelers include:
- Travel, Hospitality & Event Management
- Business Management, Services & Risk Management
- Recreation & Leisure
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