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Airbnb will roll out enhanced functionality for business travelers today, allowing coworkers to book Airbnb stays for each other.
The new functionality, however, won’t be available to travel agents, external travel managers, or travel management companies.
“We’re responding to our customers,” said Lex Bayer, Airbnb’s head of payments and business development. “[Our early business travel partner] companies like Google and Salesforce have really been instrumental in having their travel managers tell us what features they’d like to see on our platforms.”
Whoever is booking corporate travel will be able to select the person they’re booking for though a drop-down menu during the final booking stage.
After the booking is made, the third-party who booked the stay will be able to send messages to the host and make additional changes to the itinerary. Nothing will change from the traveler perspective.
The vast majority of Airbnb’s 50,000 business travel partners will receive the enhanced functionality today, according to Bayer, while the feature will roll out to the rest over the course of the year.
Airbnb has gradually added new functionality to its program for business travel over the past few years, slowly testing the waters when it comes to becoming more integrated into the world of managed travel. Bayer told Skift that the company’s business travel bookings have tripled over the last year.
The company introduced a Business Travel Ready standard last year in order to provide a set of standards to hosts and simplify search for business travelers. It also improved its Airbnb for Business program midway through 2015 to provide better expense tools to those who book business travel.
“We’re trying to create a really healthy ecosystem and offering around business travel,” said Bayer. “The feature we’re rolling out today is about making bookings easier. The Business Travel Ready designation was for making search easier.”
While Bayer wouldn’t guarantee similar functionality would ever be made available to the travel agent community, he conceded that some Airbnb customers do indeed use agents.
“We’re always looking at ways to service our customers,” said Bayer. “We realize some customers use agents. I have nothing to talk about, but I wouldn’t exclude it as a possibility. We’re really doing this in conjunction with companies already on our platform.”