Slowly but surely, traveling employees are starting to realize the value of booking an Airbnb-like property for their corporate trips. According to a 2018 online survey conducted by American Express Global Business Travel (GBT), 18 percent of American travelers said they had booked a home-share accommodation within the previous 12 months (from the time of the survey). In recent years, many companies are catering to employees’ travel preferences by offering these kinds of accommodations in their policy.
It makes sense, too. Alternative accommodations deliver on two key priorities employees consider when making their lodging selections for a business trip: price and experience. From a pricing standpoint, the sharing economy often offers cheaper lodging than hotels. From an experience perspective, it can be a more attractive choice for frequent travelers craving a personal touch as they often offer additional living and work space and fully equipped kitchens.
“It’s not a homey feeling — it’s not your home, it’s someone else’s — but it can help you feel a bit more comfortable than if it were any other sort of bland, beige hotel room,” Mark Haines, a consulting manager with Global Business Consulting, the advisory arm of American Express Global Business Travel (GBT), explained in an earlier Atlas article about the home-sharing experience.
For years, Airbnb has been one of the main leaders in the alternative accommodations space. While that still likely is the case (especially in light of its recent claim that the company has welcomed its 500 millionth guest), there is another option traveling employees have when seeking alternative accommodations: Booking.com.
According to a recent Skift article, Booking.com is now one of the major competitors of Airbnb, reaching more than $1 billion from its home-sharing bookings in the third quarter of 2018 alone. By comparison, Airbnb did “substantially over $1 billion” during that same quarter and $4.4 billion overall in revenue in 2018. (Airbnb also responded to the Skift report by noting it has more listings than Booking.com — 6 million as opposed to 5.7 million.)
Either way, we think some healthy competition in the home-sharing space is a positive for organizations who allow their employees to book such accommodations, as it opens up options and (hopefully) fosters competitive pricing.
It’s also fantastic news for clients of American Express GBT since we offer content with both Booking.com and Airbnb. But we should note that there are a few slight differences.
Because Booking.com has a direct partnership with American Express GBT, its property inventory (which just increased from 1 million to 2 million properties that represent more than 28 million total reported listings) is available through GBT channels. So no matter if your travelers are using our online booking tool, Neo™, or contacting one of our travel counselors, all trip itinerary and expense details automatically will be captured by our systems, giving companies greater visibility into their travelers’ whereabouts and spend. (We also have begun integrating Booking.com content into Amex GBT Mobile and currently some clients have access to its home-sharing content through the app.)
Meanwhile, Airbnb has made its platform more business-friendly with its Airbnb for Work listings, which include 24-hour check-in, reliable Wi-Fi connectivity and other amenities to make corporate travelers feel comfortable. However, because Airbnb bookings are made directly on its website and not through any American Express GBT channel, our clients’ travelers do not get to enjoy the same one-stop-shop booking experience that we can offer with Booking.com content. In addition, companies have to pay an additional fee for Airbnb data integration with American Express GBT.
One final note: When incorporating home-sharing rentals into a corporate travel policy — whether it’s through Booking.com, Airbnb or another supplier — we recommend that you revisit your travel risk management plan and properly update it with guidelines specific to these alternative accommodations.
To learn more about the new content available through our partnership with Booking.com, click here.