The lodging platform Airbnb has been vying for a share of the trillion-dollar global business travel market since 2014, when it first launched “Airbnb for Business” and began advertising houses and apartments with desks, Wi-Fi, and other essential amenities to users traveling for work. Since then, the service has been rebranded as “Airbnb for Work,” and on Monday, the company announced that it was growing exponentially, with almost 700,000 companies having employees sign up and book travel through Airbnb. That’s up from 250,000 as of April 2017. Business travel bookings tripled from 2015 to 2016, then tripled again from 2016 to 2017, Airbnb boasted.
In its blog post announcing these new user numbers, Airbnb also highlighted some fun facts about how people are using Airbnb for Work:
- Bleisure (combining business trips with leisure stays) – we continue to see people tack on weekend days to explore the cities they’re traveling to. More than 30% 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.
- Collaboration – 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.
- Mobility – we’re seeing extended stays and relocations being booked on Airbnb for many different reasons and lengths of time — ranging 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 the past year alone, we’ve seen stays with Airbnb for Work 14 days or longer grow nearly 3X.
Last year, Airbnb introduced a dedicated search tool allowing users to filter for “Business Travel Ready” lodgings, and partnered with SAP Concur to make Airbnb listings available through the Concur search and booking tool. The number of Concur users expensing Airbnb bookings increased by 42 percent from 2016 to 2017, Monday’s announcement noted, including 63 percent of SAP Concur’s Fortune 500 customers. Airbnb is also rolling out new features to help companies search for and book lodging on Airbnb, such as custom search parameters for property types, nightly rate caps, and amenities that fit the company’s travel policy.
Airbnb’s push into the lucrative business travel market intensifies its competition with traditional hotels, which already see it as a significant threat. The startup, which plans to go public in 2019, is valued at around $31 billion; and is already worth more than most of the major hotel chains, Paul Sawers points out at VentureBeat. It also has more listings than the world’s top five hotel chains combined:
Airbnb’s impact on the consumer travel market has been significant, a fact that hasn’t been lost on the more established players in the room-booking realm. Last year, fancy home-sharing company Oasis received a strategic investment from Hyatt, while a year before, AccorHotels snapped up luxury vacation-rental platform Onefinestay for $170 million. Elsewhere, travel booking behemoth Expedia acquired Airbnb rival HomeAwayfor $3.9 billion and TripAdvisor acquired home-rental marketplace HouseTrip.
Having disrupted the consumer market to such a great extent, Airbnb’s growing presence in business travel will surely bring noticeable changes to that market as well.