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Airbnb pioneers ‘bleisure’ travel

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Johannesburg - The home-sharing pioneer Airbnb has announced the launch of a new feature that would cater specifically to business travellers.

The company has long focused on leisure travellers but has now adjusted its offering to cater to millennial bleisure - the new trendy term for combining business and leisure - travellers who want to explore offerings of a place beyond conference rooms.

Airbnb’s global head of business travel David Holyoke told Business Report last week that business travel did not have to be all about a road warrior but should be more about working the way you live.

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“Life shouldn’t stop because you’re travelling for work,” Holyoke said. “We know your first priority is to crush that pitch meeting, but you also want to explore a city. With Airbnb, you can do both.”

Airbnb is an online marketplace and hospitality that enables one to lease or rent for a short-term lodge including apartment rental, hotel rooms and vacation rentals.

The company does not own any lodging; it is merely a broker and receives commission from both guests and hosts in conjunction with every booking.

Holyoke said the new feature would give travellers a chance to live in a city when travelling for work.

Beyond business

More travellers were now looking for options beyond just business, he said.

“The lines between business and leisure travel are blurring; more and more of us are combining business trips with weekend stays,” he said. “So much so that more than 50percent of business trips on home sharing site Airbnb in 2016 included a Saturday night.”

Holyoke said last year the company made a number of improvements to make business travel easier and more convenient.

He said the number of business trips on Airbnb had tripled during the period and today nearly 10percent of trips on Airbnb were for work, adding that this had resulted in more than 250000 companies in more than 230 countries and ­territories had now signed to use Airbnb for work.

“With all this growth comes our continued commitment to making it easier to travel from work with Airbnb. Living and working like a local doesn’t have to come at the expense of convenience.”

Holyoke said Airbnb’s experience had in the past been designed primarily for leisure travellers. But he said that was no longer the case.

Read also: Airbnb has to tackle cultural issues

“We grew our number of business travel-ready listings - homes that have the essential amenities and services a business traveller needs, like WiFi, laptop-friendly workshops and self check-in - to more than 150 000 globally.

“Travellers want to have an opportunity to indulge in a little bleisure.

“With our new feature on desktop and mobile - business travellers can filter search results to only show business travel-ready listings. This makes it easier and faster to find and book the perfect Airbnb for work trip.”

He said over the last few years, Airbnb agreed to place limits on how long hosts could rent their homes to travellers in certain cities.

“Typically, leisure travellers come to Airbnb at a point of inspiration and discovery. They spend time researching neighbourhoods, browsing listings and toggling between photo after photo.”

Business travellers come to Airbnb already knowing where they want to stay and with less lead time. Travellers want speed, convenience and reliability. “We launched a third-party booking tool so both the employee who is managing travel and the employee who is taking the trip can book, make changes to the reservation, and message the Airbnb host with questions about the listing or neighbourhood.”

Holyoke said as the world of travel continued to change, Airbnb was positioning itself to be the leader in bringing the comfort and adventure back into business.

BUSINESS REPORT

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