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Is Airbnb for Work Right for Your Small Business?

Is Airbnb for Work Right for Your Small Business?
Credit: Satori Studio/Shutterstock

Work often requires travel, and not always to the most glamorous destinations. Business trips are not vacations, and often, entrepreneurs experience loneliness and stress rather than excitement and serenity.

But booking a comfortable, clean and affordable property should ease most complications. To make the trip more pleasant, your business might consider using Airbnb for Work. Here are some pros and cons of this specialized service.

Like the consumer version, this online marketplace lets individuals rent out their properties or spare rooms to business travelers who either just need a place to sleep or need a place to work from while on the road. You can sign up as an individual business traveler, or you can sign up your whole company. It offers tracking and coordination through a dashboard that is unique to your company.

Airbnbs are known for their charm, while hotels often feel unadorned and even unsanitary to some. Because business travel can be taxing and isolating, keeping you away from loved ones, you might prefer a warmer place to stay – one that feels like home.

"We want our crew to feel as comfortable as possible when they are traveling for work, and in most cases, Airbnb will provide this," said Jon Brodsky, country manager (U.S.) at Finder.com. "There is more space for them to feel at home in. A full kitchen to prepare meals that allows them to tailor to their specific dietary requirements and save money on eating out."

These benefits will make all the difference to overwhelmed, homesick workers.

Airbnb prices are typically affordable, especially for groups of people. However, don't plan your trip at the last minute: hosts can take advantage of dynamic pricing by utilizing Airbnb's Smart Pricing tool, said Tim Rathschmidt of the Airbnb communications team.

It also charges based on the home rather than the number of people occupying it. Essentially, you rent the entire place per night and can share it with however many people it sleeps. This is great for SMBs with close teams. If you do want to add guests, some hosts allow you to then pay per extra guest, said Rathschmidt.

"It can be less expensive than two hotel rooms, while providing additional space to spread out (think living room and kitchen)," said Dan Shube, CMO of Labor Finders International Inc.

However, "beware of hidden costs," Shube added. "Service charges, insurance, cleaning fees and taxes can add up fast."

You won't show up to a house or apartment with no internet or an unreliable proprietor. To qualify for Airbnb's "Work Collection," Airbnb properties and hosts must offer:

  • Essentials
  • Wifi
  • Self check-in
  • Laptop-friendly workspace
  • Iron
  • Hangers
  • Hair dryer
  • Shampoo

Additionally, Airbnb commits to traveler safety with risk scoring, background checks, 24/7 global assistance, secure payments and account protection.

"While we ensure everyone gets their own room and privacy, Airbnb ensures there is ample space to work together rather than convening in a hotel bar, restaurant or ‘business center,’ which is usually just a couple of desks next to the lobby," said Brodsky.

Airbnb includes a "smart dashboard" that allows you to access your active trips, confirmed trips, completed trips and more. This information helps employers organize their rentals and the workers occupying them for each business trip.

Airbnbs can be located anywhere, from the middle of a city to a quiet place in the outskirts of town. You get to decide where you'd like to stay based on your preferences.

"I enjoy feeling like a local in a city, and Airbnb gives me that option, even if I am just there for business," said Danielle Berman, founder and CEO of DB Consulting.

Brodsky said that location is a big reason his company opts for Airbnb. "We like to minimize the time we'll have to spend commuting between other offices, meetings or function venues, so we'll often pick places within walking distance to where we'll be spending the most amount of time," he said.

Berman said that there are some liabilities associated with Airbnbs, like ending up with a home that's not up to par in terms of cleanliness and location. However, the company usually reimburses anyone experiencing issues, she added.

"The biggest cons come from a mix of liabilities for people traveling with expensive items or confidential information," added Jeffrey Walsh, co-founder of Nomo FOMO. "In these cases, you and your employer may feel more comfortable in a location that most likely has cameras and insurance that would cover any loss."

If you do have any concerns, Rathschmidt noted that they offer Trust and Safety and Customer Service teams that stand by around the clock and around the globe to help.

Walsh said that many large companies have trouble reimbursing Airbnb expenses because they are not always on their approved list of places to stay.

"I have also heard a few HR people mention that some companies find it hard to differentiate the difference between a legit rental and when you are staying with friends," he added. "This way, instead of having a free place to stay when traveling, your employees are paying their friends and family."

Some of your workers might not feel comfortable staying in the same house as the rest of your team, even if they have their own room. You should respect their wishes and make sure everyone is on board before booking an Airbnb – it's all about preference.

Sammi Caramela

Sammi Caramela has always loved words. When she isn't working as a Business News Daily and Business.com staff writer, she's writing (and furiously editing) her first novel, reading a YA book with a third cup of coffee, or attending local pop-punk concerts. The only time Sammi doesn't play it safe is when she's writing. Reach her by email, or check out her blog at sammisays.org.