Airbnb is moving beyond the consumer market and into the business travel sphere, with a new portion of the website that only shows properties appropriate for a business traveler. The places that appear in the new section, which launched Monday, are those with Wi-Fi, without shared rooms, and on the “Normal” end of the “Normal to Novel” spectrum.
Sorry worker bees, treehouse visits on the corporate dime likely aren’t in your future.
The business travel feature is an important step for Airbnb if it wants to hit its reported $10 billion valuation. After all, business people make up a huge chunk of the travel industry, spending a predicted $288.8 billion globally in 2014. Airbnb’s purported mission is to build a huge hospitality brand and this takes the company one step closer to attracting a user base for that vision. “Nearly ten percent of Airbnb’s customers travel for business already,” Chip Conley, Airbnb’s head of global hospitality, said in a press release.
To target business travelers, Airbnb has partnered with Concur, which runs TripLink, a system that streamlines the booking and expensing process for business travelers. TripLink serves 70 percent of Fortune 100 companies, so it’s an easy foot-in-the-door for Airbnb. To kick start the process, it has signed up some fellow friendly startups and tech companies, namely Lyft, Salesforce, Evernote, and Eventbrite.
The business launch is perhaps a welcome news distraction for Airbnb, which spent last week navigating a PR crisis out of Palm Springs. A man who rented a woman’s Palm Springs condo through Airbnb has decided to stay there permanently. Much to the renter’s horror, California law states that once someone lives in a home for 30 days, they’re officially a tenant and can only be kicked out through an official eviction process.