Airbnb Wants To Break Into Business Travel Market

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Airbnb's new business travel site caters to professionals seeking accommodations suited to their needs.

Airbnb isn’t just for vacationers anymore: The home-rental booking startup is hoping to capture the lucrative business travel market.

The company announced a partnership Monday with Concur, an expense-management company that creates trip and expense software, to allow business customers the ability to book accommodations through its website using Concur’s TripLink service, starting this fall.

“Nearly 10 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,” said Chip Conley, Airbnb’s head of global hospitality, in a statement. “Working with Concur, we’ve now made it even easier for people to make the most of their business travel.”

Through the new business travel section of its website, Airbnb will allow professionals to search listings that highlight homes and apartments particularly suitable for business travelers and offer key features such as Internet access. Single rooms in a shared apartment or house will be excluded from such business listings. Bookings made through the site will automatically connect to expense reports using Concur software.

More and more business travelers prefer to book travel on their own, said Tim MacDonald, executive vice president of platform and data services at Concur. Such activity can expose companies to risk, because it limits their ability to track expenses, comply with company travel policies or identify fraud, he told the Wall Street Journal.

“We’re able to bring those companies like Airbnb into a company’s travel program to meet their objectives and all those policies,” said MacDonald.

More than 30 companies, including Facebook, Evernote, Eventbrite and Lyft, are already signed up for the new Airbnb offering.

Airbnb’s announcement comes just two weeks after the company unveiled a rebranding of its logo and website, with the aim of helping travelers feel a greater sense of belonging when it comes to staying in Airbnb accommodations.

In April, the Wall Street Journal reported Airbnb raised more than $450 million in private-equity funds, which would value the company at $10 billion.

Airbnb’s entrance into the business travel market could increase scrutiny from regulators who are already examining the company and its policies when it comes to safety, tax collection and oversight. 

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