Two of the world’s most valuable technology startups are teaming up in the hopes of luring young business travelers away from hotels. Airbnb Inc. plans to begin a pilot program Thursday with WeWork Cos. to provide travelers with amenities commonly found in hotel business centers, such as a work desk, Wi-Fi, printers and meeting rooms, said people familiar with the project.
The companies will start with six cities: Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, Washington, London and Sydney, said the people, who asked not to be identified discussing an unreleased program. When renting a room on Airbnb’s site, corporate customers will be able to save a spot at a WeWork office nearest to where they’re staying. Airbnb and WeWork confirmed the partnership but declined to provide specifics on the program or future plans.
Business travel could be a lucrative opportunity for both companies. Airbnb rolled out a search tool in April for “Business Travel Ready” homes with a desk and high-speed internet. The San Francisco upstart said it expected corporate travel on its site to quadruple this year. But it may struggle to convince executives to trade turn-down service and conference rooms downstairs for a shared office space several blocks away.
WeWork, valued at about $20 billion, is the world’s largest provider of shared work spaces, renting desks to freelance workers, startups and larger companies that don’t want to sign an office lease. Airbnb, with a valuation of $31 billion, is the largest provider of home rentals. Both companies cater to a wave of younger consumers with an appreciation for modern design who are comfortable staying in strangers’ homes or working next to them.
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