Airbnb wants big companies to know that the popular home rental service isn’t just for couch surfing nomads—it can be a great way to cut down on employee business travel expenses.
On Monday, the company unveiled the brand new "AirBnb for Business," a customized monitoring tool that features a central billing system and a dashboard for expense managers to track employee spending on the road, reports Bloomberg. The company is also embarking on a new marketing campaign to highlight the advantages of using Airbnb for business travel.
“Corporate travel is a big part of the travel pie; it’s worth a lot of money,” Airbnb co-founder and chief technology officer Nathan Blecharczyk told Bloomberg. But he admitted they still have a ways to go in order to appeal to those who travel for work. “We’re further along there on our leisure side than our business side.”
That travel pie is worth over $300 billion in spending in the U.S. alone this year, according to the Global Business Travel Association.
Previously, Airbnb would manually send out invoices to participating companies with Excel spreadsheets tabulating employee room rental expenditures. Today there are more than 250 companies enrolled in Airbnb’s business program, making the old manual system a difficult task for the small travel group. Still, the company managed to attract some big names, including Google, Salesforce.com, SoundCloud and Vox Media-- all of which are already using the new system.
Since Airbnb recognizes that opting for a home stay over a cushy, amenity filled hotel might be a difficult sell for an older generation or a seasoned Wall Street exec, they are now focusing on smaller markets, companies that have employees on extended client stays and groups wishing to stay together on company off-sites.
Today, business rentals account for about 10 percent of Airbnb’s overall business but by appealing to the non-traditional market, they hope to gain a significant foothold in marketplace soon.