Airbnb for Business: The Time is Now

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With the success of Uber for Business fresh in our minds, now comes Airbnb entering this lucrative corporate travel market and at least initially, seems to be doing quite well.

What is catching my attention about Airbnb is the staggering increase in hotel room rates. Cities like San Francisco and Hong Kong are boasting about their 90% occupancy rates with little additional capacity in the pipeline. With demand so high, it is no wonder that hotel rates have been skyrocketing in many cities. Actually that 90% sounds suspiciously similar to airline capacity and no one can point to where airfares are going down.

Airbnb was very smart to create a separate portal for business users. More in line with corporate travel, the properties are limited to houses and apartments that suit the needs of business travelers. And they ask the right question: “Where do you want to go?”

But just as Uber has had some safety issues, Airbnb was caught up in a very nasty squatter’s case. Airbnb’s initial response was defensive legalese but with so much media attention, they relented and covered most of the renter’s legal fees and costs. Fortunately it ended well but it left a bruising mark on Airbnb with potential renters. I don’t expect this will have a long-lasting effect on those who rent to business travelers but it certainly puts other Airbnb renters on notice that there may be legal risks.

I am sure it is only a matter of time before I try out an Airbnb address instead of my typical hotel choices. Maybe what’s keeping me from using Airbnb is a combination of trusting what I already know along with the security of a large building. Oh, and there is also the fact that with hotel chains, I enjoy elite status and earning points. Not sure how Airbnb can overcome these bennies.

For now I rely on the experiences of others like fellow BoardingArea blogger and good friend Chris McGinnis. With both of us attending an event this past summer, I stayed at the Hilton Checkers hotel up the street while he enjoyed his first experience with Airbnb. As he said, there was good and bad but in fairness, can’t we say the same about most hotels? At this point in time, I say sorry Airbnb, I am not quite ready to give up these things yet for a possible wild card rental experience but I will keep an open mind.

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