Airbnb has come a long way since its inception as a site to find a couch — or an air mattress — to crash on. Now that you can rent everything from a spare room to a vacant castle, it's time for the hospitality company to embrace its corporate future.
On Monday, Airbnb launched Business Travel on Airbnb, which winnows listings down by work-friendly amenities (and filters out shared rooms), and announced a partnership with expense management company Concur. The two companies will work together to integrate Concur's TripLink service with Airbnb listings, so business travelers can easily book an Airbnb and have the information show up on the expense report generated by Concur. That feature will be available this fall.
Airbnb is already working with about 30 companies to help their employees find lodging, including Facebook, Eventbrite, Evernote, Lyft, and Salesforce. Naturally, fellow tech startups have flocked to Airbnb, but Concur's appeal is broader. The company helps more than 70 percent of Fortune 100 companies manage their business travel expenses. The partnership helps Airbnb gain some legitimacy, so it doesn't look weird when you try to expense an apartment in San Francisco's bar-friendly Mission District for work purposes.
So why would you even want to use Airbnb when you could just choose a business-friendly hotel? Maybe you like a specific neighborhood, want a cheaper alternative, or would prefer to use a kitchen rather than eat out for every meal.
Airbnb said in a Monday blog post that almost 10 percent of Airbnb users are already using the site to book business travel, so the Business Travel on Airbnb initiative makes that process easier.
"We know Airbnb isn't for every road warrior, but for larger groups, longer stays, and relocations, Airbnb offers inspired spaces in memorable places to make the most of any type of travel," Chip Conley, Airbnb's head of global hospitality, said in a Monday statement.
Conley founded hotel chain Joie de Vivre and joined Airbnb last fall to help the startup become the global hospitality brand it wants to be. Airbnb may not own the rooms you book or employ the hosts that hand over their keys, but with initiatives like the business travel launch, the company is clearly aiming to compete against traditional hotel chains.
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