BTN Europe presents an overview of business travel and MICE predictions for this year
ExCeL London - 22-23 June 2021
Marc McCabe, business travel lead for Airbnb, on why Airbnb is all about empowering employees to make good decisions for their businesses
Why do you think business travellers will be interested in using Airbnb?
Because we offer people an affordable option, which gives them flexibility and control over their stay. They can choose more space, stay in a neighbourhood that resonates with them or have a kitchen or a washing machine to wash their clothes if they’re packing light. Around 10 per cent of our current guests are business travellers, and we are looking to grow that.
Where is Airbnb popular?
Large cities – that’s where the vast majority of our properties are located, and that’s what’s made us very popular for business travel, because rates can be very high particularly at busy times. Our ten largest markets are the who’s who of the top 10 cities for business travel, and that’s why we’ve seen such success so far.
How many trips have been made with Airbnb?
Some 30 million guests have stayed with Airbnb, and 20 million of those have been in the last year.
For business travel, what’s the most common trip type?
The biggest use are extended trips, relocation, groups picking maybe a three-bedroom property, and offsite corporate retreats as well. We offer a very large inventory for different business traveller use cases. Sometimes that extends into transient. We have certainly seen people use us for shorter stays, but our core market is two or three days. The average length of stay is six nights for both leisure and business traveller, and at present business travel is a touch longer.
So are you more in competition with serviced apartments than hotels?
We’re not really in competition because we offer a very different product to both sides. I think we’re between the two spaces. If you are using us it’s because you want a local property or amenities that suit the way you want to travel. And I think that’s the reason some people choose hotels over us.
So what are you doing to reassure travel managers?
We definitely have resonated with travellers, so we need to catch up with travel managers by providing tools and services to them. The partnership with Concur is a very good example of how we are starting to work with travel managers to identify solutions that work for them. Integration ensures that your Airbnb itinerary and your receipt data are going to flow into Concur, which means travel managers can keep an eye on their employees and know how much they are spending, and employees have a simpler expense process as well.
We’ve also offered standalone services that help companies identify and track their employees traveling on business. Our goal is to improve the duty of care side for travel managers. But I think we will also spend a bit of time thinking about the traveller experience and think of how to optimise the travel experience for business travellers as well.
So are those the concerns that travel managers have expressed to you? Security and duty of care?
Yes. It is foundational to how the whole industry works. We haven’t previously addressed that but now we are working with everyone from small companies up to very large enterprises to find a solution that works for them.
There’s also the problem that the properties aren’t standardised in the same way a hotel chain is.
This is part of the shift happening in the industry. There are more companies open to open booking. And the reason is that employees can often save their company more money than they can with constrained options. They are the ones identifying what they feel comfortable with, and having theming them make that decision seems to me quite logical. Airbnb is about empowering employees to make good decisions for the business. But you also have to be able to account for those employees and know where they are and how much they are spending – and to find them in an emergency. Those are the sort of tracking options that we are now offering.
What’s the age profile of your customers?
I think we are popular with millennials, but we have a wide range of demographic. If anything, home-sharing is an old concept. We’ve just applied some modern technology to it to make people more comfortable with it and more readily able to use it.
How do you supply management information for travel managers?
It’s very straightforward. We set up a corporate account code with the business, and that is used on the check-out page which allows employees to identify to us that they are travelling on business for that trip, and that allows us to pull and collect that data and share it back to the company.
How is the business travel market growing for you?
We don’t have an update on the 10 per cent number – it’s more a general survey and identifying which ones might be travelling on business. We will put more measures in to try and get a greater visibility on that.
Airbnb’s business travel portal is here.
Airbnb ‘welcomes’ more regulation
Airbnb targets business travellers with Concur deal