According to The Australian Financial Review today, Airbnb, Uber and other sharing-economy enterprises are changing the face of business travel, forcing companies to examine whether they can adapt their policies to accommodate the demands of the next generation of corporate travellers.
Airbnb, which allows individuals to rent out their homes and private rooms to travellers, has 1.5 million rooms available globally. Other sharing-economy companies, such as car service Uber and dining conduit Eatwith, which allows chefs to open their private homes to bookings from locals and travellers, are also becoming sought after by corporate travellers who have already used them for leisure travel.
"The most disruptive thing occurring today is perhaps not the technology but the demands of the traveller," said Amadeus IT Pacific managing director Tony Carter. "It is demand that drives change. We are seeing what travellers want today being very, very different and changing rapidly."
National Australia Bank business travel specialist and supply sourcing expert David Crawford said the bank, which has active profiles for more than 16,000 travellers, does not allow employees to use Airbnb or Uber.
"We have negotiated contracts with hotels," he said. "We deliver volumes to properties to get discounts. We want to deliver to those vendors that we contract with. It is a matter of security and safety.
But Mr Crawford said both Uber and Airbnb would be considered in the future, subject to resolving potential safety, security and insurance issues. "Everything is on the table," he said. "It is not, no. It is not yes, yet, either."
ACE Insurance head of accident and health Australia and New Zealand Lesley Jacques said corporate insurance policies were generally broad enough that they would cover problems with services like Uber, whether or not they were approved under a company's corporate travel policy.
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