Business travellers are increasingly opting to rent Airbnb properties when abroad for work, with data representing $77 million in Airbnb spend and more than 320,000 Airbnb expenses over eight quarters, according to new research from Concur.
The findings show which industries and segments are driving Airbnb usage in business travel. Airbnb usage also shows strong growth over time, including the number of business travellers expensing Airbnb accommodations, which grew 44 per cent year-over-year in Q2 2016.
Chris Baker, managing director of UK enterprise at Concur believes that while hotel spend still accounts for the majority of business lodging spend, there’s an increase in business travellers exploring alternative lodging, especially during major conferences and events.
‘The study finds the number of organisations using Airbnb increased by 32 per cent and overall spend increased by 42 per cent year-over-year, from Q2 2015 to Q2 2016. The average Airbnb expense was $242, but average cost varied among major U.S. cities.’
Small and mid-sized businesses are among the fastest adopters, (up to 1,000 employees) increasing spending on Airbnb 38 per cent in Q2 2016 compared to Q2 2015.
On average, small and mid-sized companies spent $2,800 on Airbnb stays in Q2 2016, while a small number of organisations spent more than $20,000 in the same quarter.
Hotel usage and spend are still on the rise. Use of major hotel chains grew year-over-year, but at a substantially lower rate than Airbnb. In Q2 2016, total business travel spend on major hotels was more than 250 times greater than business spend on Airbnb.
Technology companies aren’t the only ones using Airbnb. As Airbnb adoption grows, the user base is diversifying. The academic sector is now a major driver of business travel spend on Airbnb stays.
In Q2 2016, six of the top 20 Airbnb spenders were universities while eight of the top 20 spenders on Airbnb were technology companies.
Business travellers may be blending work and exploration. From Q3 2014 through Q2 2016, more money was spent on Airbnb stays in San Francisco than in any other city.
Meanwhile, London held steady at number two in the two-year timeframe, followed by New York, Los Angeles, Paris, Austin, Seattle, Washington, D.C., Chicago, and Sydney, illustrating a growing shift in how employees approach business travel.
Business travellers might see Airbnb as a cost-effective opportunity to explore a city’s scenic neighbourhoods that are beyond walking distance from major hotels.