Embracing the Sharing Economy
Exploring the shift towards sharing among corporate travel managers
As so-called sharing economy services such as Airbnb, Uber and Lyft become increasingly popular among corporate travellers, travel managers are having to quickly adapt to this new normal by drafting new policies, adapting expense account functions, and adding new platforms to employee travel booking search tools.
It’s no surprise that the exponential growth among shared service providers is driving significant investment in the professionalisation of shared economy services – now considered mainstream rather than niche disruptors, with dedicated teams seeking strategies and solutions to better integrate shared economy services with existing corporate travel platforms.
The issue now is how to integrate shared economy services into corporate travel tools and policies – and it’s well underway with Uber, Lyft and Airbnb already offering automatic expensing options for business users.
By establishing corporate accounts and having individual employees access approved shared service platforms on their own devices, with bills automatically credited to a corporate credit card which flow into an automatic expense report, both travelling employees and corporate travel managers can save a huge amount of time reconciling expenses and receipts and creating reports. A win-win for both parties.
Airbnb is responding to the growing number of business travellers using its platform to book work trips – more than a third of Millennial and Gen Z respondents to TripActions 2018 State of Business Travel survey are doing so, with its new Airbnb for Work platform, and Work Trip feature, which incorporates a dashboard to track employee travel bookings and spend.
Looking ahead, we can expect to see corporate travellers expanding their use of sharing economy services beyond accommodation and transport to co-working spaces, such as the partnership underway between Airbnb and WeWork.
The challenge for our industry will continue to be keeping pace with the rapid change and rising demand for sharing economy services. Employees who are not able to use the same consumer-friendly apps and services they’re accustomed to in their personal lives for corporate travel will likely become increasingly frustrated and potentially ignore corporate policies and use them anyway. It looks like it’s time to get on board – or be left behind…and none of us want that.