Interview: Airbnb Business Travel Lead Marc McCabe
Airbnb’s rapid conquest of the guest accommodation market shows no sign of abating, and that even includes winning the business of corporate travelers, whether their employers know or not. Even so, Airbnb in 2014 launched a strategy to engage with corporate buyers. BTN contributing editor Amon Cohen caught up with the company’s business travel lead, Marc McCabe, during the Business Travel Show in London last month for an update.
What have you been doing to make Airbnb more attractive for the corporate market?
We started by having conversations with travel managers. Ralph Colunga [then senior director of global travel, meetings and expense for Salesforce.com, now senior director of global travel for Concur] told us he needed four things: tracking and visibility; integration with corporate travel processes; compatibility with the business’ profile, such as groups, long-term assignments and short-term assignments; and duty of care.
To give corporate clients visibility, we have created corporate account codes that businesses pass on to employees to use at the Airbnb checkout page. That means we can share the data back to the customer. We have also created a business search portal to weed out inappropriate properties so they only have entire properties and houses with Wi-Fi.
Tell us about the integration with Concur.
It’s a huge leap forward. We are in the TripLink app center, so the booking itinerary and expense report are all baked in together. That makes it much easier for the traveler. Now we want to start automating for companies that don’t use Concur so that there is a way for travelers not to have to input a corporate ID on our site. We are very close to launching this.
So you are looking to work with more partners in travel distribution?
Yes, we’re exploring other partners. We want to play well in the ecosystem and get the data into the right places.
Are you talking about working with global distribution systems or online booking tools?
Online booking tools. That’s more probable. In fact, there’s a range of booking tools, travel management companies and security companies. We’re providing booking data to International SOS for certain companies. Duty of care and tracking are overlapping. What we offer means companies know where their employees are and that we are filtering out inappropriate properties.
What about companies that don’t want their travelers using Airbnb properties?
It’s better to track bookings with us than not to. Leakage is 50 percent when it comes to hotel policy, and a lot of that comes to us. We want to get the data back to the companies. They are hearing from employees that this is what they want. Of all the corporate customers who have signed up with us, not a single one has pulled out.