Airbnb has made no secret of its strategy to widen the pool of travellers connecting with its hosts to secure accommodation.
The big slice of the accommodation pie that Airbnb wants to gobble up next is those travelling for business reasons.
The first official sign that it would target corporate travellers came in April 2014, when it signed an agreement with business travel technology company Concur so that customers could book Airbnb properties directly via their existing tools, such as TripLink.
The idea was that expense reports would be pre-populated and duty of care requirements met - two important elements from both a traveller safety perspective as well as for visibility on spend and management data.
Earlier this year, Airbnb's head of business travel, Marc McCabe, said there was a job to be done in making the process for corporate travellers better by making the tracking more automated, getting travellers to identify themselves and learning about their habits along the way.
Airbnb, he said, can then share information with companies on length of stay, dates and location so that travel managers can keep track of their travellers.
This data, or visibility on this data, is seen as the make or break for the site’s presence in the business travel segment.
Such moves are important, but what about how Airbnb is working behind the scenes to target corporate travellers in the first place?
There is a natural process, inevitably, as awareness of the so-called sharing economy increases and business travellers are granted permission from flexible employers to try the host-type experience, or just don't have a stringent accommodation policy.
But until now the Airbnb website has not differentiated its properties based on type of traveller searching for a host.
That could be about to change.
Airbnb has been quietly piloting a programme in the San Francisco Bay Area (city, North Bay, East Bay and South Bay) to "help hosts tailor their listings to business travelers".
To meet the requirements to be a "business ready" host, user properties must meet certain criteria:
- Room type is entire home
- 24-hour access to keys on check-in day
- No pets
- No smoking
- Minimum of three existing bookings
- Essentials (toilet paper, clean towels, fresh linens)
- Iron and ironing board
- Coffee and tea
- Fresh, filtered, or tap water
- Laptop-friendly work space
- Smoke detector
- Carbon monoxide detector
The hosts must also have the following "standards":
- No cancellations of confirmed listings within 7 days of reservation
- 90% response rate within 24 hours
- At least 60% of ratings for cleanliness should be 5 stars
- At least 60% of ratings for accuracy of a listing should be 5 stars
- At least 60% of ratings for reviews should be 5 stars
At this stage, there is still no functionality on the front-end for users to search for properties that are featuring on the "business first" programme.
The company says the hosts who apply for the new listing type will be notified if they have successfully passed the selection process.
Airbnb has yet to respond to a request for further information.