One of the most notable findings from our 2016 Business Travel Spending Report is that Airbnb has firmly established itself as a cost-effective alternative to traditional corporate hotels. Home sharing first gained adoption among leisure travelers, especially the young and budget-minded who wanted to experience a taste of local flavor during their stays. Increasingly, business travelers have embraced Airbnb for those same reasons.
In 2016, Airbnb accounted for 9% of Rocketrip travelers’ nights on the road. Compared to the year before, there was a 54% increase in the portion of Rocketrip clients with an employee who booked an Airbnb. Not only did more companies use Airbnb; individual companies used Airbnb more. Average bookings per company were also up 54% in 2016, and the average amount per company spent with Airbnb was up 39%.
Cost was the main factor driving Airbnb growth among the population of business travelers Rocketrip studied. Business travelers who stayed at an Airbnb instead of a hotel saved $108 on their nightly accommodation budgets, or 41%.
That’s huge. Based on the average trip duration of 2.9 nights, a company would save $316 if a traveler chose to stay in an Airbnb instead of a hotel - and this might be understating the impact. The nightly hotel budgets used in Rocketrip’s analysis were based on available rates at the time of a given booking and the traveling employee’s applicable travel policy, meaning the savings would likely be even greater if Airbnb spending were compared to observed hotel spending, which often exceeds the recommended guidelines contained in a travel policy.
Airbnb use is especially impactful in the cities with the highest nightly hotel rates. In top destinations with constrained hotel supply - San Francisco, New York, London - Airbnb seems to be filling a gap during times of peak demand.
It remains to be seen how the market will develop now that New York and San Francisco have both tightened their restrictions on short-term apartment rentals, the type of Airbnb listings most relevant for business travelers evaluating hotel alternatives. Similar laws have been on the books in New York for several years, with little discernible effect. Airbnb has reached a new settlement with the city that shields the company from fines, but allows for removal of listings found to violate regulations.
In the past, New York and other municipalities hungry for travel dollars have shown ambivalence about enforcing restrictions on Airbnb. But were this to change, aggressive regulations could constraint rental supply in 2017. In 2016 though, there can be no doubt about the effect Airbnb has had on business travel.
To find out more about how business travelers spent and saved this year, check out the infographic version of Rocketrip's 2016 Business Travel Spending Report.