Airbnb sets sights on business travel sector

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Business travel spending in the United States is expected to hit US$ 296 billion by the end of this year, and to increase by a 5.2% on the next, according to Global Business Travel Association, a trade association.

Since its debut in 2008, Airbnb Inc. has focused on adventurous tourists seeking different, inexpensive accommodations. Next week, the travel company headquartered in San Francisco will turn a bit more serious.

On Monday, Airbnb is planning to deploy a search tool targeted at business travelers. This feature will allow professionals to use a filter to select houses and apartments that Airbnb considers to be fitting for business travels, or “Business Travel Ready” (BTR, as called by the company).

For a property to be listed in the BTR category, it will have to have a desk, Wi-Fi, an automated check-in process through a doorman or digital lock, and amenities or items one would expect in a hotel, such as shampoo, hairdryer and iron.

According to Airbnb, 90% of its clients are tourists. Last year, the company attempted to take advantage of its main business by adding touristic services such as hat making courses in London, or off-road motorcycle excursions in Los Angeles.

But Airbnb sees a great opportunity in business. Spending in business travel in the United States is expected to reach US$ 296 billion by the end of this year, and to increase by a 5.2% by next year, according to Global Business Travel Association, a trade association.Airbnb

Last year, the number of people using the platform for business travel tripled, and the figure is expected to quadruple this year, according to David Holyoke, Director of Airbnb’s Business Travel Division.

There are currently over 250,000 companies using the platform, among them Alphabet, Domino’s Pizza and Morgan Stanley. “As millennials take over the workforce, we are seeing amazing growth,” Holyoke said. “These young executives want to feel at home when traveling.”

Airbnb closed a funding round last year which valued the business at about US$ 31 billion, as reported by Bloomberg at the time. This makes it more valued than Hilton Worldwide Holdings, Hyatt Hotels and Wyndham Worldwide. In order to stay ahead of major hotel corporations, Airbnb will have to lure more lucrative travelers, including business executives.

Source: Bloomberg