Although business travelers are largely embracing service options available through the sharing economy, not all companies are equally as keen on the concept. In fact, a recent survey found a notable percentage of businesses outright prohibit the use of non-traditional lodging services, and car rentals still beat out ridesharing services when it comes to ground transportation options.
The survey, conducted by the corporate travel service of ExpertFlyer.com, looked at the preferences of 1,500 corporate travelers. While the sharing economy clearly had an impact on business travel in 2015, it remains to be seen how far and wide its impact will continue to be.
Business Traveler Ground Transportation
The survey did not report on corporate travel policies regarding ridesharing services, but it did note a significant number of business travelers opted for them over the last 12 months.
- 25 percent: Use ridesharing services, such as Uber or Lyft
- 17 percent: Use traditional taxi services
- 35 percent: Use car rentals
- 13 percent: Use public transportation
- 9 percent: Use private car service
Business Traveler Lodging
In the lodging category, the survey focused on corporate travel policies, asking how many companies allowed their employees to use non-traditional lodging options such as Airbnb.
- 40 percent: Corporate travel policy prohibits non-traditional lodging options
- 31 percent: Policy allows Airbnb rentals for corporate travel
- 30 percent: Employees not sure if policy allows it or not
The notable percentage of policies that prohibit non-traditional lodging options was interesting in light of the ongoing increase in hotel prices. Over the first six months of 2015, hotel prices in the US increased 2 percent, while global hotel rates rose 1 percent.
Last year also saw the expansion of Airbnb’s Business Travel program to a global level, with the services attractive to business travelers for a number of reasons. In addition to habitually lower rates than hotels in major cities, Airbnb rentals often come equipped with amenities that accommodate long-term stays. These can include things like a full kitchen and in-unit washer and dryer.
Convenience vs. Corporate Policy
A recent Global Business Travel Association report said corporate travelers are looking for more convenience in 2016. The main aim of travel managers is to enhance the travel experience while continuing to find ways to lower travel costs. An interesting item of note for the upcoming year will be keeping an eye on travel policies to see if they shift to include non-traditional lodging to meet those objectives or if companies devise alternate ways to improve travel management.
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We are excited to be able to enforce much more stringent compliance to our expense guidelines and significantly enhance our expense reporting and analytics. By automating these processes, we will be able to free up AP time formerly spent on manual administrative tasks, and enhance the role by being much more strategic.