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Airbnb for Work has touted strong growth since its launch a few years ago, when it was originally known as Airbnb for Business, providing better tools for companies to manage their spending and track where their travelers are.
A partnership announced late last year with WeWork allowing Airbnb customers to buy a day pass to a workspace seemed to show Airbnb is looking to a partnership model to help flesh out its business travel offerings beyond homes.
Starting today, though, Airbnb will add its Airbnb Experience products into the booking process for both travelers and those booking travel for others. It will also curate appropriate home listings into “playlists” of spaces ready for meetings outside global city centers.
The meeting space options will be pulled from the more unique properties listed on Airbnb, instead of offering a more standardized meeting experience provided by Breather or WeWork in big cities. The intention is to facilitate more creative offsite events on the Airbnb platform, and if you happen to book an Airbnb Experiences product as a team-building exercise as well, all the better.
Now that Airbnb Experiences operates in 800 global markets, the timing is good to create an offering for business travelers, who are tacking on leisure elements when traveling for work.
Airbnb is trying to split the difference between empowering travel organizers to mainstream their homeshares and experiences while selling to individual business travelers who want to escape from their work travel grind.
“When you look at business travel generally there’s that ecosystem where you focus with travel managers and maybe travel planners or arrangers in how you approach that side of the market,” said David Holyoke, global head of Airbnb for Work. “When you think about experiences, anyone in the company could be facilitating that. That could be a team leader for the sales team or the marketing team, it could be a team coordinator, it could just be an individual in the area of the business bringing other colleagues together whether it’s around a project. So lots of different opportunities, and this is very much more of a direct [offer] to the professional community.”
The logic makes a lot of sense: companies have embraced more experiential off sites and internal events, while business travelers themselves want their work travel to more closely reflect their personal travel.
Combined, these improvements to the platform represent Airbnb’s strongest push yet into the meeting space after allowing meeting organizers to embed a map featuring Airbnb listings onto their website earlier this year. Airbnb for Work, though, really has two components; the effort to attract travel managers or office managers to the platform, and the business traveler-facing booking site.
“We have AirbnbforWork.com, that’s where a lot of our content marketing exists, where we talk about the value proposition to the company, and then Airbnb.com/work speaks more to the professional, the traveler, the employee,” said Holyoke. “In both cases, all of these use cases will be highlighted, and then there will be easy entry points in to what we call playlists where we will be surfacing these use cases forward so people can then just dive right into seeing the available supply and being able to book that for the appropriate use case.”
The company’s long-gestating loyalty program, which has yet to be detailed in full, will inevitably create cohesion between the two sides much like a traditional hospitality loyalty program.
Questions remain, however, whether this approach will catch on with larger companies with entrenched methods of planning internal events. Maybe it doesn’t have to, though, in order to be valuable to companies and travelers looking for something different.