Corporate travelers wary about booking home-sharing properties
A RECENT study by the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) revealed business travelers largely shy away from home-sharing properties because of lack of support in travel policies.
Only one out of every six travel policies cover home-sharing properties under companies like Airbnb and HomeAway.
GBTA research director Kate Vasiloff said, “A travel professional must simultaneously balance his or her obligation to keep travelers safe with a need to make cost-effective decisions and select suppliers and services that foster productivity, while not compromising the traveler’s well-being.
“Allowing home-sharing services into a traveler program may not be the right option for every company, but it should be an informed decision.”
Despite the lack of coverage, the study points out some employees have booked home-sharing properties without knowledge of company policy.
This means many travelers are booking and staying in properties unsupported by their travel policy – a serious duty of care issue.
Based on the study, 87 percent of agents and travel professionals are hesitant to book home-sharing properties due to safety and security concerns. Meanwhile, 55 percent of professionals have similar concerns about traditional hotels.
Other issues that bother professionals about home-sharing properties are non-refundable deposits, last-minute cancellations on reservations, and strict cancellation policies.
To a lesser extent, they are also concerned about unstable Wi-Fi connection, inflexible check-in and check-out options, as well as lack of ancillaries.
To lure business travelers, some home-sharing companies have begun to tailor their offerings to appeal to both travelers and professionals.
This could include not allowing hosts that list their properties for business travel to cancel a reservation within seven days of check-in and requiring frequently-needed business travel essentials, such as Wi-Fi and a laptop-friendly workspace as well as irons and hangers, to be provided.
In the case of Airbnb, their business-friendly listings – under Airbnb for Business – address some of these needs.
Hosts who qualify to put up corporate travelers are run though a stricter set of guidelines that comply to the needs of such travelers. For instance, units need to be equipped with carbon monoxide and smoke detectors, hosts must allow 24-hour check-in and rooms must have laptop-friendly working desks.
Hosts must also have had a minimum of ten bookings – 60 percent of which must be five-star reviews. They must also have fast response rates, quality hospitality and low cancellation rates.
With regards to safety, Airbnb’s head of business travel in the Asia-Pacific region Kevin Hoong said at the 2016 edition of the ITB Asia conference: “Last year, 17 million guests stayed in an Airbnb unit over the span of three months. Out of the 17 million, less than 300 cases were considered high-risk or high threats.”
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He said Airbnb had a team of trust and safety teams around the world to handle SOS calls. “Whenever [the team] sees reviews that use words considered high-risk, they investigate them on a case-by-case basis,” he said.
The company also has Host Protection Insurance, which covers guests who trip or fall in a booked rental during their stay.