After establishing itself as a force to be reckoned with by the hospitality industry in general, Airbnb is increasingly targeting business travelers, including meeting groups.
Airbnb and meetings industry organizations are formalizing products and partnerships to enable planners to incorporate Airbnb listings into their programs. This is a significant development, because most planners and conference organizers have been reluctant to include Airbnb and other room-sharing companies due to concerns about billing and payments, security, insurance and room block managements, among other things.
While Airbnb often has been regarded as a secondary option for groups due to lack of available rooms in hotels and resorts, it now is positioning itself as a primary option, and is experiencing some success. The room-sharing company often imbeds its listings in conference websites and promotes its options in attendees’ convention materials.
Airbnb points to several reasons why it’s an excellent option for meeting groups:
• It provides attendees with an alternative, personalized travel experience.
• It’s often regarded as most suitable for young travelers, but many others use it; 33 percent of business travelers using Airbnb are 36 to 50 years old.
• Traditional hotels often can’t match its rates.
• Airbnb’s Business Travel Ready program, launched in November, uses a badge to identify listings that are suitable for business travelers. To earn the badge, units must provide items such as an ironing board, fire alarm and CO2 detector.
• It might create a meeting planner section on its website in the future.
Experient, Maritz Travel’s global meeting planning and event management company, is one of the main firms to begin including Airbnb listings in its room-listing offerings to meeting clients.
“We teamed up with Airbnb to really assist our customers, especially in major markets with condo and apartment dwellings downtown close to the convention center,” said Gary Schirmacher, senior vice president of industry presence and strategic development, in an interview with Skift. “It’s a really good option for our customers when there’s significant compression where the blocks are sold out. And then some customers are really looking at it when they have a segment of attendees who might want this kind of product. It’s been a good option for us to date.