Travel professionals are not exactly embracing home-sharing properties, but they aren’t rejecting them outright, either.
A recent study conducted by Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) of Alexandria, Virginia, found that businesses are paying close attention to the use of home-sharing properties for employee travel. The study, “Home-Sharing and Travel Policies—A Shifting Landscape,” found one out of six companies or associations has travel policies (17 percent) that permit the use of home-sharing properties.
The study—conducted in partnership with AccorHotels—also found more than twice as many travelers (37 percent) think their company or association permits them to stay at home-sharing properties during business trips. In other words, business travelers are booking stays at properties that aren’t officially approved by their company or association.
The sharing economy is prompting more businesses to review their policies toward home-sharing properties “before making a decision to include or exclude them from travel policies,” GBTA reported.
Kate Vasiloff, GBTA research director, 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 well-being of the traveler.”
The primary concern of travel professionals centers on personal safety. The study—conducted through an online survey of 147 travel professionals in the United States and Canada—found 87 percent of participants worried about safety and security at home-sharing properties, compared to 55 percent who have personal-safety concerns about traditional hotels.
Even more telling, 61 percent of respondents said they are very concerned about the unpredictability of home-sharing property conditions, compared to 33 percent who have similar worries about hotels, according to the study.
Other concerns, as revealed by GBTA’s survey of travel professionals:
- Non-refundable deposits (58% home sharing vs. 44% traditional hotels)
- Enforcing strict cancellation policies (44% home sharing vs. 35% traditional hotels)
Growth of a Sharing Economy
In her blog, Marianne Varkiani, GBTA’s social media & communications specialist, attributed the popularity of the home-sharing market to internet search tools. Today’s consumers are searching for affordable alternatives to traditional services. Although the rise of home sharing for personal use has skyrocketed through companies like Airbnb, business travelers remain cautious about booking stays with home-sharing venues.
“Travel managers have yet to assess the benefits and risks of allowing such properties in their travel policy,” Varkiani said in her GBTA blog.
She pointed to Salesforce and Oracle, two companies with slightly different approaches to home-sharing policies. During GBTA’s recent webinar on home sharing for business travel, a spokesperson for Salesforce said the San Francisco company currently is evaluating its policy for allowing employees to use home-sharing properties for official business travel, Varkiani said.
An Oracle spokesperson reported the Redwood City software company takes an “as-needed approach” to the use of home-sharing properties for business travel, according to Varkiani. She noted that Oracle “reaches out to the traveler to understand the driving factors behind their decision” to try home sharing for business travel.
As GBTA’s Vasiloff said, “Allowing home-sharing services into a traveler program may not be the right option for every company, but it should be an informed decision.”
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