The sharing economy –more specifically home-sharing– has become an increasingly popular means for leisure travellers, however it hasn’t quite fully taken over the business travel world. If you’ve haven’t heard of it, home-sharing, simply put, enables people to rent out their apartment, home, spare bedroom, villa, castle, and much more, to other people. Companies such as Airbnb and HomeAway have streamlined the home-sharing process and made it possible to easily acquire such accommodations, though they have sparked differing opinions among Travel Managers, Business Travellers and Travel Management Companies (TMC) alike.

Only 17% of travel policies allow the use of home-sharing accommodations. Click To Tweet

The Global Business Travel Association surveyed 147 travel professionals in North America on the use of home-sharing while on business. The GBTA compiled their data into a report called Home-Sharing and Travel Policies –A Shifting Landscape. The report showed that only 17 percent of travel policies allow the use of home-sharing accommodations. Though only 17 percent allowed for it, 37 percent of travellers were under the impression that their travel policy allowed this. This misinformation means that many travellers are booking and staying in accommodations that are not approved by their company’s travel policy which creates serious duty of care and compliance concerns.

“Allowing home-sharing services into a traveller program may not be the right option for every company, but it should be an informed decision,” said Kate Vasiloff, GBTA research director. Of the remaining 83 percent of companies that did not allow for home-sharing accommodations, 52 percent stated that they had assessed the option before deciding against it and 13 percent were in the process of reviewing the possibility of including it in their travel policy.

In light of this, we at Encore Travel decided to put together a list of the pros and cons regarding the addition of home-sharing in business travel policies.

 

PROS

 

Cost

One of the major pros of using home-sharing accommodations is their capacity to create savings for companies. The very fact that an arranger can rent out a house or villa for a team of business travellers means that the cost of travel decreases significantly –it also means that the team can maintain their productivity while staying in one central location. The fact that travellers also have access to a kitchen and can cook for themselves is another contributing factor to company savings.

 

Comfort and Familiarity

It’s a known fact that we’re all creatures of habit –therefore SUPPLY that many of us are used to, such as: a kitchen, a washer and dryer, and a parking spot. These comforts can make travelling less disruptive and can help business travellers maintain efficiency –it also doesn’t hurt to be able to spread out in a space and ultimately rely on oneself to cook and do laundry. 

 

Supply 

A surplus of booking options is one of the major perks of home-sharing. If a traveller is looking to make a last-minute booking during a busy weekend, home-sharing offers a variety of options whereas hotels tend to fill up quickly. With the knowledge that you’re more likely to find accommodations, home-sharing makes the booking process much easier and overall less stressful.

 

CONS

 

Safety

Probably the biggest con of home-sharing is safety. Home-sharing lacks a certain standardization that hotels often have –hotels have established security measures and have round the clock staff that are always there in the case of an emergency. Simply put, companies can’t guarantee their travellers safety when it comes to home-sharing, which is a big problem in terms of duty of care.

Companies can’t guarantee their travellers safety when it comes to home-sharing Click To Tweet

 

Points

Home-sharing lacks a loyalty program which can impede its inclusion in many business travel policies. Many hotel chains offer points which, when accumulated, can amount to cost savings, free-nights, minibar credits, and more. These perks can be a huge incentive and companies will sometimes favor these hotels and include them in their preferred programs because of them.

 

Consistency

Home-sharing lacks consistency –what this basically means is: they don’t have an established brand. A hotel’s main goal is to provide an excellent customer experience and they do this through consistency in their hotel’s: color scheme, design, artwork, personnel uniform, and much more. These elements allow travellers to know exactly what to expect when they’re staying at any given hotel. Home-sharing also lacks the staff to ensure that a traveller’s needs are met, as well as on-premise amenities that they’ve come to expect and rely upon when staying in a hotel, such as a pool, a gym, a restaurant, etc.

 

Legality

At the end of the day, home-sharing is only somewhat legal. Certain cities have laws that restrict people from hosting paying guests for short periods of time. While in other countries, only a permit or license might be needed before being able to list a property or receive guests. And in some cities, home-sharing is just outright illegal. Of course, the enforcement of these laws varies, depending on the local governments, and can result in fines or other penalties. In Montreal, the law requires a person to have a permit, insurance, and pay a nightly hotel tax, on top of being subject to inspections, in order to list their home. However, some home-sharing companies, like Airbnb, are being proactive and are attempting to work with governments around the world in order to clarify the rules and create a clear understanding of what the laws are for people looking to list their homes on such sites.

So where does this leave home-sharing in business travel? For Encore Travel, the answer is: not just yet. With the high number of risks surrounding safety and legality, it doesn’t feel like the right move for business travel at the moment. However, as home-sharing moves forward and continues to change and grow, we remain open to the possibility (and probability) of one day including it in our clients travel management policies.

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