At first glance, booking an Airbnb might seem like a fair option to save on business travel costs, but taking a closer look tells a different story. Business travellers simply don’t have the bandwidth for being inconvenienced if their Airbnb doesn’t match up to expectations. Every business travel manager needs to consider these risks before deciding on accommodations from Airbnb and others in the sharing economy sector.
1. Your Options in Case of Inconvenience are Limited
To risk stating the obvious, Airbnbs are homes, not hotels. In the event something unexpected goes wrong, your travellers are completely dependent on their hosts for a quick response.
Do you have the time in your travel plans to wait for a plumbing issue to be resolved? If there are unexpected Wi-Fi connectivity problems or power outages, are you prepared to use up phone data because your host has nowhere to relocate you?
Whereas agencies such as FCBT can offer 24/7 emergency assistance, it’s unrealistic to expect an Airbnb host to provide solutions for anything that could interrupt your plans.
2. You’re Responsible for Your Own Safety
Airbnb accommodations are not evaluated in person for safety or accurate portrayal in descriptions and photos. Instead, Airbnb relies on travellers to report improper accommodations and to take their own safety measures. The company recommends guests go as far as bringing their own carbon monoxide detectors (really!), conducting their own safety audits upon check-in, and monitoring travel alerts while visiting their destinations.
When you trust your business travel plans to Flight Centre Business Travel, your team benefits from our expertise in international travel and from our longstanding high-quality supplier relationships. You can have peace of mind that your team remains safe and has access to our travel professionals anytime. No need to pack a back-up fire extinguisher.
3. Your Booking is Never Actually Set in Stone
Cancellation policies are one of the major drawbacks of booking a shared economy accommodation like Airbnb for business travel. Airbnb hosts can cancel accommodations anytime, even within hours of the confirmed check-in time. While in most cases, they face minor penalties for cancelling a confirmed booking, they are nevertheless not obligated to relocate their guests.
Will your travel manager be prepared to pick up the pieces of an itinerary and find new accommodations in the event an Airbnb host cancels with almost no notice or doesn’t show up at all? Will you have enough room in your budget to arrange new accommodations while you’re liaising with Airbnb representatives for a refund? Wasted time is wasted money, and your business travel program should be as seamless as possible to maximize savings.
4. Your Host Doesn’t Have Much Accountability
Although Airbnb scams are rare, unfortunately, they do happen. Airbnb advertises becoming a host as “easy”, and anyone can start hosting in just a few online steps with no in-person verification. The process is so easy in fact, that many top Airbnb “hosts” have recently been discovered to be aliases for international corporations that list hundreds of properties – not the attentive, local host you were expecting. Additionally, poor hosts who have been deleted from Airbnb’s database can easily create a new account under a pseudonym.
Instances of suspicious circumstances include fraudulent requests for money, accommodations that defy zoning laws, are operating without the property owner’s knowledge, or are being misrepresented in their descriptions and photos.
Anyone who books with Airbnb should take extra precautions against dangerous situations. Only communicate and conduct transactions through the Airbnb app. Moreover, it is imperative to read reviews with care. Avoid hosts and accommodations with fewer than 50 reviews in popular neighbourhoods, and pay special attention to mediocre reviews, which tend to list both pros and cons.
If you need to save on business travel (and who doesn’t?), there are smarter ways to do so than booking with Airbnb. Flight Centre Business Travel saves you both time and money, thanks to our negotiated rates with preferred partners, forward-thinking technologies, and 24/7 travel assistance. Call us for a free consultation at 1 866 940 0217 today!