Oh, the infamous Airbnb. For years, major hotels have taken comfort that it’s left alone their most valuable travelers.
Since its birth (and near-failure) in 2008, the home-sharing startup has targeted leisure travelers with the promise of authentic local travel experiences. But no more. Now valued at $30 billion — more than any major hotel brand — it has set its sights on business travelers.
It announced in July that it had inked a partnership with a trio of travel management companies: American Express Global Business Travel, BCD Travel, and Carlson Wagonlit Travel.
Will business travelers bite? Some, like Tad Milbourn, CEO of San Francisco tech startup Payable, already have.
Business travel spending on Airbnb grew by 249 percent internationally during 2015 alone, beating out every major hotel company, according to a report from Certify. Our unassuming thinking — that corporate travelers need the services, security, and safety of a traditional hotel — has allowed Airbnb to gain the upper hand.
A few hotel brands have already snapped up similar sites to avoid being frozen out. French multinational hotel group AccorHotels, for instance, recently acquired Airbnb competitors onefinestay, Squarebreak, and Oasis.
“It would be absolutely foolish and irresponsible to fight against any new concept, offer, or services like this, let alone fighting against the sharing economy,” AccorHotels CEO Sébastien Bazin says. “This is where the world is leading us. All of those new services are very powerful and very well implemented and executed. You need to embrace it.”
While most hotel brands aren’t about to remodel their prized properties to enter the sharing economy, they can learn from Airbnb’s marketing prowess.
Wake Up to Airbnb’s Marketing Brilliance
Airbnb has excelled at digital marketing because of its dedication to getting the basics right. By leveraging hosts’ and guests’ feedback, Airbnb communicates the authentic experiences it can deliver to travelers of all stripes.