Airbnb Tackles The Business Travel Market

airbnb business
Airbnb has launched digital tools and a marketing campaign aimed at attracting more business travelers. Source: Google Images

Just as its slogan boasts, Airbnb lets travelers “live like a local” by renting unique accommodations from individual hosts, instead of choosing the traditional hotel accommodations. Now, more than ever, “living like local” can include working like a local, as Airbnb has launched new digital tools and a marketing campaign to appeal more to business travelers.

The Airbnb app now has a search filter that allows business travelers to search through only “business travel ready” homes, by simply registering for an account with a work e-mail address. These are listings that are top-rated, have more responsive hosts, and have 24-hour premium support. The homes are also usually located near business districts, are Wi-Fi enabled, and are “entire-home” rentals. Airbnb now also allows companies to enroll in Airbnb’s corporate travel program, which allows travel charges to be made directly to the company – making corporate travel expensing and overall travel management more convenient. According to Airbnb, over 250,000 companies are already enrolled in corporate travel management. According to a CWT Solutions Group study referenced by Business Insider, companies save an average of 30% when employees use Airbnb as opposed to a hotel.

The marketing campaign to support this was created with the help of creative agency TBWA\Chiat\Day and media agency Starcom, according to a recent AdWeek article. The campaign is scheduled to run until June 25, 2017, and includes the use of various channels, both digital and out-of-home. On the digital side, this marketing campaign includes videos and display ads on some of the most well-known news and lifestyle sites, such as the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, Time, Fast Company, Chicago Tribune, and several others. The campaign also includes print advertising in outlets such as Fortune, Forbes, The New Yorker, Entrepreneur, Bloomberg Business Week, and Money Magazine – all of which are sure to appeal to business professionals. Furthermore, Airbnb is currently running a promotion in which business travelers get a $50 credit for use towards their next trip.

In February of this year, 10% of Airbnb bookings came from business travelers, according to Business Insider. Furthermore, according to the Telegraph, the $1.2 trillion business travel sector is expected to grow by 3.7% within the next 10 years. With so much opportunity for growth, Airbnb’s new digital tools and marketing efforts come at a perfect time, and the company is setting up to capture a larger percentage of the sector. To support this expected growth, Airbnb is also trying to increase its number of “business travel ready” listings. Last year, the company already had 150,000 such listings around the world, according to the recent Telegraph article. Already a fierce competitor in the travel industry, Airbnb hopes its growth in the business travel industry will give it just another boost above traditional hotels.

From a marketing management perspective, here are some questions to consider:

  • How does Airbnb’s offering compare to its competitors’ in the traditional hotel industry?
  • What hurdles might Airbnb encounter as it tries to steal market share from the hotel industry?
  • What are some additional marketing tactics that might be effective in attracting business travelers to Airbnb?