View of Stockholm: SHOULD YOUR BUSINESS USE AIRBNB FOR BUSINESS TRAVEL?

Photo by Henrik Trygg                     Image obtained from:  https://www.stockholmbusinessregion.com/press/media-bank/

 

More and more businesses are using Airbnb for work trips/relocations, team building experiences, and places to collaborate.

 

Airbnb For Work mentions that, according to The 2018 Corporate Travel Index. American companies saved on average 30% per night compared to traditional hotels. Internationally, companies can save an average of 54% a night compared to traditional hotels.

 

In August of 2018, Airbnb stated that 700,000 companies have signed up and booked through their platform. Growth in bookings tripled each year from 2015-2016 and again from 2016-2017.

 

Are you using the traditional hotel model and wonder about the pros and cons of using Airbnb for your business?  Here are our thoughts on the topic:

 

PROS

 

1. Airbnb is generally cheaper as long as everything works out and your traveler finds the accommodations suited to their needs. This allows  cost savings for your traveler or your company. That said, it is helpful to have a local relocation partner or business partner who can confirm the local area and home are safe, secure and quiet, and the insurance compliance is within the law. In addition, a local partner will know if there are any construction jobs or big events planned in the area that might change the atmosphere of the neighborhood.

 

2. In an attempt to gain more business customers, Airbnb has new offerings for travel managers including a user-friendly dashboard that allows a company to do the following:

 

  • Integrate company Airbnb for Work account with a travel management company or duty of care partner
  • Track spending on all employee work trips
  • Export travel data from the dashboard to measure your expense and savings.
  • Eliminate expense reports by adding a shared credit card for your business travelers as employees prefer not to go out of pocket for business travel expenses.
  • Organize travelers by departments or teams with distinct payment methods to streamline spending.
  • Airbnb offers integrations, partnerships and data-sharing agreements with iJET, United Healthcare, International SOS and Concur TripLink.

 

3. Destinations can be unique and tailored to a specific company brand sense and employee personalities, needs and desired outcomes. Airbnb offers a huge variety of offerings in most cities.

 

CONS

 

1. There may be inconsistency of quality and customer service. Hotels are generally very dependable with quality of care. There may be the challenge of keeping up consistent quality control with an Airbnb.

 

2. Some employees may prefer full-service options such as room service meal delivery, full service laundry, and other hotel amenities that many Airbnb sites are not set up to accommodate.

 

3. Does the Airbnb lifestyle brand fit in with your business culture? There are employees and businesses that prefer a high-quality, dependable hotel rather than a hip Airbnb, unless the property is used on a regular basis. If you are in the HR role, it would be important to decide what matches offering best matches with your Corporate Brand. Keep this in mind when updating your travel policies.

 

4. It could be easy for HR or an employee to make a mistake when booking a remotely located rental. We have heard of people finding great deals only to discover that the apartment is in an area of construction and the plan to work from home isn’t doable due to the noise. There have been other times in our experience when the needed permit to sublet wasn’t in place and this results in delays and often cancellations.

 

5. Lastly, If a property isn’t to the liking of the employee due to inaccurate photos, this may cause emergency changes that are not only costly but time consuming for all involved.

 

Thatcher Law  brings up some good points in their article on company Airbnb policies as follows:

  1. Because Airbnb listings are not commercial properties, they are not regulated in the same way as a hotel. As a result, the lodgings may not have the same security and safety precautions in place.  
  2. Airbnb’s may not always be fully accessible to those with disabilities.
  3. Injury insurance claims could be more complicated if an accident or damage happens in an Airbnb versus a Hotel.
  4. At a hotel there would be security and on the spot assistance if your employee were to need it due to accident or injury.

 

Would Airbnb be appropriate for intermediate housing while your new hire is looking for a place to live?

 

As relocation specialists, we would suggest to proceed with caution for the reasons listed in the CONS section. While we think that Airbnb (certified through Airbnb At Work) can be appropriate, cost-effective and enjoyable for corporate retreats, workshops and business trips there may risks involved when used for interim housing specifically.  This would especially be true if sourced independently by your new hire or someone out of the country if they have not spent much time on the ground here in Stockholm.

That said, it's always a matter of personal judgement as sometimes these situations may depend on your particular city, the local housing market, and how well your team knows the area. If you are a company that has a relaxed policy on travel and short term stays, you may not be concerned about being somewhat more lenient with possible risks.

Our opinion is that travel/relocation policies should be standardized and formalized as much as possible in advance, with the necessary insurances and precautions. We recommend giving your new hires generous relocation packages and not cutting corners, especially on housing in Sweden. In Stockholm, where apartments are hard to find, companies do best following protocols that have been built up over time because they work and provide the most streamlined success without the last minute headaches falling on the desks of the HR team.

 

 

If you would like to learn more about these topics regarding relocation to Sweden, you might be interested in this Relocation Guide on our website with more detail on the subject. You can also download our handy Global Mobility Policy Ebook. 

 

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