With a new appeal to business travelers, Airbnb aims to host 100M guests in 2017

Airbnb is targeting the business travel industry as it aims to serve more than 100 million customers in 2017. (Airbnb)

Short-term accommodation rental site Airbnb hosted about 80 million guests in 2016, but it is aiming for 100 million this year, according to a July 21 report by the San Francisco Business Times. The company intends to add higher-end services for premium customers, coupled with a more focused approach to business travelers.

Deploying a program originally tested two years ago called Business Travel Ready, Airbnb will offer “appropriate accommodations for the [commercial sector], as well as a range of tools for corporate travel managers," according to a report by travel technology newsletter Tnooz.

Among the key features of the program, Airbnb said on its site, are:

  • Business travel-ready listings: Homes that offer the amenities that a business traveler wants and needs, like Wi-Fi and laptop-friendly workspaces;

  • A third-party booking tool that both the employee who is managing travel and the traveler can use to make changes to the reservation and message the Airbnb host with questions about the listing or neighborhood;

  • The ability to filter search results to highlight listings with self check-in—enabling guests to access listings using a key lockbox, smartlock, keypad, or doorman at any time after the designated check-in time on their arrival dates; and

  • Business-friendly receipts, to streamline the accounting process.

To sweeten the deal, Airbnb is currently offering business travelers the opportunity to take a work trip and get a $50 credit to use on their next jaunt—whether it’s for work or pleasure.

But before you book, check your company’s policy. According to study results released by the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) in April, home-sharing properties are allowed by just one out of every six travel polices (17%); however, more than double that number of business travelers (37%) believe they can use such accommodations.

The study, Home-Sharing and Travel Policies—A Shifting Landscape, conducted in partnership with Accor Hotels, also revealed that many firms are making an effort to evaluate home-sharing options before making a decision to include or exclude them from travel policies.

“A travel professional must simultaneously balance his or her obligation to keep travelers safe with a need to make cost-effective decisions and select suppliers and services that foster productivity, while not compromising the well-being of the traveler,” explained GBTA Research Director Kate Vasiloff in a release, adding, “Allowing home-sharing services into a traveler program may not be the right option for every company, but it should be an informed decision."