Have you ever used Airbnb for business travel? The home-sharing company is making a major push to attract business travelers this summer. The company recently added features that make it easier for small business owners and their employees to manage travel, search business-travel-friendly locations, and generate expense-report-friendly receipts.
Should you choose a hotel or Airbnb for your next business trip?
Here are some questions—and answers to help you make the decision on where to stay for your next business trip.
What amenities do you need?
Business-travel-ready homes on Airbnb must have reliable Wi-Fi, 24-hour check-in, and space to work. However, if you want additional services and amenities, such as maid service, room service, and an on-premises fitness center or pool, a hotel is probably a better bet.
How many are traveling?
In order to be listed as business-travel-ready homes, Airbnb requires homeowners to list the entire home for rental (not just a room). This can be a good option if you have a close team that’s taking a trip together. You’ll have a built-in, comfortable meeting place instead of having to meet in the lobby of a hotel or find a conference room. Depending on your group, renting a home could offer a great bonding experience—or a little too much togetherness.
Are you mixing business and pleasure?
If you're taking your family along on a business trip so you can spend some time sightseeing before or after business is done, an Airbnb home can be a great solution. Your family can spread out and feel comfortable while you're working. Since you'll have access to a kitchen, you'll save money on dining out. This can be a really good alternative for families with young children.
How independent are you?
Airbnb business-travel hosts are required to have a 90 percent-plus response rate within 24 hours. That means if something goes wrong, you should be able to get help fairly quickly. However, if you want to be absolutely certain you can get 24-7 assistance, you might not feel comfortable staying in a home where you don’t have help at your beck and call.
What type of experience do you prefer?
On some business trips, you may want to experience the flavor of the city. Perhaps you have more downtime than usual or you're going someplace you've never been and always wanted to visit. On the other hand, if you're going to be working 18-hour days, you might prefer a hotel where you can get room service, send clothes out for dry cleaning, and don't have to think about anything except falling into bed at the end of the day.
Where will you be meeting with prospects or clients?
A business hotel offers the convenience of multiple options for client meetings. There’s the hotel bar for a drink after the convention or the hotel restaurant for a breakfast or dinner meeting. If you choose Airbnb, you’ll need to do a little extra homework to find suitable locations for meeting outside of the client’s office.
Will you actually save money?
Renting a home might sound like it will automatically save you money compared to a hotel. However, be sure to consider hidden costs. For instance, if the rental isn’t close to the business district, you might spend more on transportation to get to meetings. Hotels have hidden fees such as taxes and parking charges, but also offer the chance to earn frequent traveler points or other perks. Read the fine print of both options carefully before making your decision.
If you do decide to test the waters of Airbnb business travel, be sure to read listings and reviews carefully. Never assume a home has an amenity if it isn't listed. (For example, that seemingly perfect apartment might not have a coffee maker, which can really throw your morning off.) Ask plenty of questions to ensure the location has everything you'll need to make your business trip go smoothly.
Speaking of sharing, SCORE mentors love to share their business experience and advice with small business owners. Find your SCORE mentor today.