How The Sharing Economy Will Impact Corporate Travel in 2018
What role will peer-to-peer services play in the future of corporate travel?
When the sharing economy was first starting to take off a few years ago, corporate travel managers were suspicious. According to a white paper released in 2015 by the Association of Corporate Travel Executives, the majority of travel managers didn’t have plans to introduce sharing services. The concept was unfamiliar to them, so they weren’t quick to adopt it.
The main concern was safety. They were concerned that options such as AirBnB and Uber were less secure. Perhaps anxious corporate lawyers were worried about business travelers using new and “risky” forms of transport when the company was liable for their wellbeing.
Fast forward to today. The sharing economy is finally becoming mainstream in all areas of travel, including in corporate travel. The latest research from a Global Business Travel Association Report found that 50% of corporate travel policies now allow ride-sharing services such as Lyft or Uber. What a difference a few years has made!
Also, permission within corporate travel policies to book through AirBnB or other lodging services has increased by 20% since June of 2016. According to data from Tnooz, 26% of travel managers are even planning to implement a policy in regards to sharing economy transportation.
In fact, Airbnb and Uber have created partnerships with corporate travel expense management apps such as Concur. This has allowed them to break into the mainstream corporate travel sector even more. Take a look at the Airbnb dashboard that is designed for business travel – helping employees to book their stay.
Will your company be using sharing economy travel services in 2018? If not, why not? Let’s take a deeper look into how corporate travel and the sharing economy will interact in 2018. What are the advantages of using sharing economy services, and what is still holding some companies back?
The Corporate Sharing Culture
Corporate travelers can benefit enormously from using shared accommodations such as Airbnb. These accommodations are actually more suited to corporate travel than a hotel room.
By booking through shared sites and apps like Airbnb, corporate travelers have the convenience of a kitchen. This means they don’t have to eat out in restaurants for every meal. They will also have more room for working on projects, as most Airbnb units have a desk or a workspace with WiFi.
Another main advantage of Airbnb is the cost savings. Often, renting an apartment this way is much cheaper than a hotel room. There are also a lot more options to choose from, so each business traveler can find accommodations that suit their needs.
One disadvantage is that an Airbnb won’t have always the same amenities that a hotel can offer – such as late check-in, an on-site fitness center and a concierge. Some corporate travelers still prefer this aspect of hotels, and many Airbnb owners are looking for ways to adjust their amenities to make stays more luxurious, uniform, convenient and hotel-like for corporate travelers. We expect to see more of this in 2018.
The Legal Considerations
As corporate travelers start to use sharing economy services more, they will need to consider the legal aspect. In some areas, sharing economy services exist in a legal gray area. When this is the case, employers need to understand the laws in their destination country. This is something to consider if you plan on using sharing economy services in 2018.
Companies should consider a number of other important factors when determining whether or not they should use this type of accommodation as well. Are the security standards appropriate to the risks that are present in that destination? Is the sharing service actually lawful within that particular country? What support services are available – such as medical assistance? Are there formal background checks to vet the drivers and the host?
In some locations, the local government is challenging the legality of services such as Uber and Airbnb. For example, San Francisco and New York have created laws restricting the use of Airbnb. In most of New York City, it is currently illegal to rent an entire apartment for less than 30 days unless the host is present and there are less than two guests.
The Safety Considerations
Of course, one of the main aspects of the sharing economy is that companies have to keep their corporate travelers safe. Whenever sharing economy travel options are used, this becomes slightly more complicated. The screening process and quality control that exists within large hotel chains simply doesn’t exist.
The staff working at a top hotel and the drivers of a trusted, well-established taxi firm have been formally approved with a system of interviews and background checks. Of course, sharing economy services vet their participants as well. They also allow customers to rate them. However, the process might not be as thorough as more reputable companies.
In some situations, especially in high risk locations, travelers might prefer the safety protocols and support that established hotels and car services can offer. It really depends on the infrastructure of the destination. This will be an important issue that travel planners in 2018 will need to address when developing their corporate travel policies.
What Will the Sharing Economy Bring for the Future of Corporate Travel?
The sharing economy is making a big impact on the corporate travel world. Many forward-thinking companies are considering how they can implement policies to accommodate this new style of travel. In the next few years, we will see the sharing economy evolve and grow even more. It will likely become a major part of the corporate travel scene.
Will your company be using sharing economy travel services this year? If so, what apps or websites are your favorite and why?
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