Airbnb, in its tenacious quest to engage with one billion guests by 2028, is ramping up its efforts to court the professional community by expanding its Airbnb for Work offerings.
Following last month’s news that bookings from 2016 to 2017 tripled (more than 700,000 companies have now used the corporate travel platform), Airbnb for Work is placing a “new strategic focus” on three key areas - teambuilding, offsites and relocations - to grow its reach beyond the core business travel market.
The idea is to help companies “attract, retain and motivate new talent by ultimately surfacing the best of Airbnb to the professional world,” says David Holyoke, Airbnb for Work's global head.
Meaning, existing teambuilding activities (offered through Experiences), offsite and meeting locations (offered through Homes) and longer-term rentals for relocations (also through Homes) will now be promoted to the corporate community alongside Airbnb for Work’s existing product.
“When you think about the business travel use case, it’s a massive industry,” Holyoke says. “But within companies, typically 25% of employees travel for work. With our new expansion, we believe we now have an opportunity to bring the additional 75% that may not travel onto the Airbnb platform and into our community.”
As with its core Experiences product, Airbnb’s teambuilding options for corporate groups include unique activities - such as sailing or cooking classes - not typically offered by traditional providers.
Holyoke says the professional experiences are available in 800 cities, and many are tailored to match company values around themes like wellness or social impact. “There’s tremendous value [in these kinds of experiences],” he says. “They’re unique experiences in unique environments that we believe allow for a deeper connection [among employees].”
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For companies, Holyoke says offering teambuilding activities ultimately assists their bottom line and drives higher retention rates, with studies showing companies with engaged employees make 2.5X the revenue and are 87% more likely to retain employees.
“When you think about the average cost to replace an employee, it’s about 3X their salary. We think teambuilding experiences bring new opportunity to the table and are a great area where we can help drive a deeper level of engagement on behalf of companies.”
For offsites and meetings, Airbnb for Work is now showcasing homes with work-friendly amenities as an antidote to boring conference spaces.
Although hosts could previously indicate if their homes were suitable for events, Airbnb is now surfacing the properties on Airbnb for Work for companies to more easily find “unique homes where teams can create and collaborate.”
Holyoke says Airbnb for Work is focused on showcasing “inspirational” homes for retreats, which include features like Wi-Fi and self check-in and are located everywhere from Napa Valley to the South of France.
Though Airbnb has opened up its platform to hotel room distribution, Holyoke says hotel meeting spaces will not be available to book.
In a bid to capitalize on an increasingly global and mobile workforce, Airbnb for Work is also now surfacing homes suitable for relocating individuals and families.
This wasn’t us necessarily saying we’re going to reinvent this space; we saw this already happening.
David Holyoke - Airbnb
Holyoke says relocation has been Airbnb’s easiest entry point into starting a conversation with large multinational companies, and it’s something employees want - particularly those looking to get a sense of community and neighborhood before establishing permanent roots.
Although 20% of employees say they’re eager to relocate, every four out of 10 international assignments fails, Holyoke says, typically due to acclamation issues, which Airbnb could help fix.
“When you think of the relocation market and where there’s supply, in many cases I would say it’s very sterile, one- or two-bedroom units. That may not fit in terms of what a relocating family or individual needs,” he says.
“When Airbnb is in 65,000 cities and you look at our footprint in any market around the world … it’s not concentrated in one area. It’s very spread out and diverse. That provides options, and the more options you can provide allows you to ultimately deliver the ultimate experience for someone.”
Is Airbnb the new TMC?
Holyoke says the decision to surface new offerings on Airbnb for Work was natural, as many companies were already using the platform to book teambuilding activities, offsites and relocations organically.
“The market very much drove the decision to get there,” he says. “This wasn’t us necessarily saying we’re going to reinvent this space; we saw this already happening.”
As Airbnb inches ever closer to establishing itself as a one-stop shop for travel, does full-blown travel management company become a part of that picture?
“That’s not a focus of ours today,” Holyoke says, also ruling out transportation or flight offerings coming to the platform in the near future.
But Airbnb for Work is more than just travel, he says. “That’s the key takeaway. We’re more than just business travel.
“There’s now a broader product offering to be able to unlock more opportunities within companies and help companies create more opportunities to drive engagement and collaboration. I think that’s very different than when you look at people that just focus on the travel element of it.”
That said: “We have a lot of momentum, and we have a lot of unfinished work to do in the business travel space and it will continue to be a priority area for our business,” he continues.
“Overall, if Airbnb is trying to bring a billion people by 2028, we’re confident Airbnb for Work is a significant growth driver to doing that.”
Hear more from Airbnb at The Phocuswright Conference
David Holyoke will speak at the November event in Los Angeles. REGISTER NOW!