What's on the Mind of Airbnb New Head of Business Travel

Airbnb is quickly carving a place for itself in the managed travel space. In the past two years, the company has launched tools geared toward travel managers, partnered with a corporate lodging provider, opened its business platform up to third-party bookings and inked deals with the three mega travel management companies.

According to Concur, another Airbnb partner, Airbnb’s initiatives are working, as use among corporate travelers increases. Now, Airbnb has tapped an executive from within the corporate travel industry to lead its business travel department. BTN lodging editor Julie Sickel spoke with Airbnb head of business travel David Holyoke. The former president of Travel Leaders Corporate joined Airbnb in November.

BTN: What’s the No. 1 item on your agenda?

Holyoke: We have some work to do on the education front. What I really mean is that Airbnb is a part of the managed travel ecosystem. We’re going to have to address that first through some good old consumer marketing to let the marketplace know. Then, what we’re doing on the sales front for engagement with travel managers and business leaderships is to talk about how we can be working together. Airbnb has had some good momentum over the last 18 months, but we’ve got a few more things to still do.

BTN: What is the company’s approach to sales?

Holyoke: We have a global sales team that continues to expand. We’ve got feet on the ground in the Asia/Pacific area and EMEA and then obviously in North America. That team’s focus is to talk directly with travel managers and other business stakeholders within organizations about how we can fit into a managed program. But this is a two-way conversation. We’ve got a lot of things we’re doing around content marketing and the sales team’s efforts to talk to business leadership that we are a cost-effective option, but we’re also asking how we can fit within their policies and compliance and controls. Then there’s a message to business travelers in general about where the experience side of business travel has gotten a lot tougher.

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