Mixing Business with Leisure

Airbnb knows fluctuating travel demands better than most and has, in Northern Europe especially, capitalised in recent times on the growing swathes of business travellers looking to make their executive trips a bit more like a holiday

Airbnb’s presence in Northern Europe has become globally significant for the online hospitality operator since its inception almost one decade ago, with the likes of France, Italy, UK and Germany establishing themselves as the top destinations across the world for inbound guest arrivals.

Cities including Paris, London and Rome have proved especially - if not unsurprisingly - popular over this duration, as the Company looked to capitalise on the constant influx of travellers gracing the region’s shores each year.

Among these consumer segments over the past nine years, the business traveller catchment has become increasingly familiar to Airbnb, with executives looking more and more for a home-from-home set-up upon arrival, as opposed to the traditional hotel lifestyle.

As such, Airbnb has become a key exponent of this market section, and Europe & Middle East Outlook spoke with the Company’s General Manager for Northern Europe, James McClure about not just the growing trend, but how the Group has modified its offering to meet this particular target audience.

“Within Northern Europe, we have a variety of accommodation styles authentic to each region,” McClure introduces. “Whether it’s a houseboat in Amsterdam or an industrial loft in Berlin; by virtue of having a diverse range of cultures and styles across Europe, we have homes local to each region that are particularly appealing for business travellers looking for a home away from home.” 

Europe & Middle East Outlook (EME): What are the most common preferences sought after by visitors using Airbnb in Northern Europe - perhaps via the filters of preferences - and how do these differ from other regions?

James McClure (JM): To help travellers feel at home when they are on the road, business travellers can choose from thousands of Business Travel Ready listings. With all the essential amenities and services a business traveller needs like free WiFi, laptop ­friendly workspaces and 24-hour check-­in, we’re finding that visitors across the board are seeking Business Travel Ready listings.

To date, more than 150,000 companies have completed a booking through the Airbnb for Business Product Suite. Companies like Amazon, Google, Vox Media, and Twilio are a part of the Airbnb for Business programme and give their employees options when traveling, especially for group travel or longer stays.

EME: Are you aware of a customer’s reasons for visiting upon a booking - i.e. for leisure, business, etc - and if so, what specific requirements or trends have you noticed among the business travel community?

JM: Nearly 10 percent of all Airbnb customers travel for business. Airbnb for Business is enjoying rapid growth with more and more companies embracing the sharing economy, but this new trend is just one of many in the corporate travel space.

Thanks in large part to technological advances, the world of business travel is an ever-evolving landscape full of exciting new opportunities. For example, ‘bizcations’ or the opportunity to combine business travel with a holiday, is booming.

The average length of a business traveller’s stay on Airbnb is twice as long as stays in traditional accommodations, at 6.8 days per trip, indicating a rise in business travellers staying the weekend to mix business with pleasure, and getting to know a new city or neighbourhood they’ve never visited.

EME: To this end then, what is Airbnb doing to ensure that it is an attractive proposition to the business traveller in Northern Europe?

JM: Airbnb for Business offers people an affordable option, giving employees the flexibility and control over their stay. Employees can choose more space, stay in a neighborhood that interests them, choose a listing with a kitchen they’d love to cook dinner in, or even a place that has a washing machine so they can pack light.   

In addition, Airbnb for Business makes it easy to travel for work without sacrificing the comforts of home. By choosing to stay with Airbnb, this allows travellers to feel like they get a chance to live in a city, even if it’s just for one night.

The Airbnb platform has grown to more than three million listings in more than 191 countries. To date, more than 150 million guests have spent the night in listings spread across more than 65,000 cities. Having opened the doors to homes around the world, Airbnb for Business is again changing the way people experience the world when they travel.

EME: What is Airbnb’s general strategy for growth in Northern Europe moving forward, what specific trends are these in response to, and how does the business travel aspect fit into this?

JM: For Airbnb, business travel is an untapped market - a growth accelerator - and we knew people were already using Airbnb for business travel, so we want to find ways to help improve travellers’ experiences. With more and more freelancers in the jobs market and new advances in communication technology, there is likely to be a shift towards ‘remote first’ companies and ‘digital nomads’ over the coming years. As a growing number of people learn how to combine a successful career with the freedom to travel on their own schedule, they are increasingly turning to new forms of accommodation that cater to different needs.

At the same time, business travel is becoming less about being a road warrior and more about mixing business with leisure. People are combining business trips with weekend stays, and in this ever-connected world, are finding ways to create unique experiences even if they are on the road for work.

Choosing to stay with Airbnb allows travellers to feel like they get a chance to live in a city, even if it’s just for one night.