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Can AirBnB crack the corporate market?


AirBnB have made an undoubted splash in the travel market, with millions of people using the service to find accommodation with other people from around the world.  It’s probably fair to say that the vast majority of usage has been in the consumer travel market however, which is something the company are looking into changing.

The site recently announced the release of some new tools that are squarely aimed at the business market.  The tools will offer business travelers the opportunity to book their accommodation as per normal, but an expense report will automatically be generated using software from TripLink.  The aim is for the new functionality to be rolled out in full later this year.

Alongside the launch of the new tools is a new website catering specifically for business travelers.  Alongside the launch, the company announced that around 30 companies were already using the service for corporate travel.

The lodgings available on the business site were fitted with the kind of functionality one would expect from corporate accommodation.  For instance, wi-fi would be a pre-requisite, whilst some would advertise space for meetings or collaborative activity.

“We know Airbnb isn’t for every road warrior, but for larger groups, longer stays, and relocations, Airbnb offers inspired spaces in memorable places to make the most of any type of travel,” company head of global hospitality Chip Conley said in a release.

“Nearly ten percent of Airbnb’s customers travel for business already and we’ve heard from customers that this type of offering is high on their wish list.”

Obviously, the original website was launched as a means of offering people the chance to stay in a spare room, or even on the sofa, of a friendly local resident.  It’s fair to say that the site has grown substantially from those early days, and the shift from its more amateur ethos to an altogether more professional one was reflected in a new site design.

Will this be enough to prompt people to use the site for commercial purposes?  Will the shift towards a more professional approach see the site move away from what made it popular in the first place and towards being just another travel website?

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