sharing-economies
Peggy Bianco

How “shared economy” experiences are powering corporate travel

October 1, 2018

And how you can embrace the change with Travelport

Corporate travelers want the same range of accommodation choices they get for their personal vacations, including “shared economy” experiences like Airbnb and Uber. So how can you maximize their options, while also staying compliant with your corporate travel policies?

The sharing economy is making big business out of smart, disruptive ideas. Whether you want to park in someone else’s driveway, get someone to walk your dog, or hire someone to show you the vibrant nightlife in a tiny town that’s off the beaten track, there’s a business or service for precisely that. Customer choice, control and flexibility are the watchwords of this hugely popular way of doing business.

Of course, in the travel arena the most-talked about sharing economy businesses are the likes of Airbnb and Uber. These companies have made our leisure travel experiences more interesting, convenient and cost-effective. And all in a few taps of their very user-friendly apps.

But what impact is the sharing economy having on the corporate travel space?

Corporate travelers want new experiences

Today’s corporate travelers want experiences that are more akin to their personal vacations, especially in terms of the types of properties and locations they are looking to stay in.

In particular, leisure travelers are now used to an array of accommodation options, from chain hotels and smaller properties, to boutique hotels and even private homes such as those available on Airbnb. This limits their corporate experience, when their accommodation options are restricted to a few traditional chain hotels selected for the commercial benefits offered to their employer, rather than location, amenities or more general traveler benefits.

So the challenge for corporate travel managers and travel management companies (TMC) is how to maximize traveler choice and satisfaction by extending accommodation options as much as possible, whilst remaining within corporate policy and duty of care requirements.

Potential barriers to offering "shared-economy" experiences 

When it comes to offering shared-economy accommodation experiences to corporate travelers, perceived risk is a big factor. It’s a repeat of the low-cost-airlines experience in the 1990s, which were generally disregarded by corporate travel managers due to perceived risks. After all, business travelers need a guaranteed seat at a guaranteed time, with the assurance of a reliable quality experience, and the low-cost airlines were just too new to have proved themselves yet.

Of course, many of these airlines went on to work closely with the corporate travel industry to demonstrate their reliability and standards in order to meet duty of care requirements. Today, they are trusted brands that have strong relationships with businesses worldwide.

The lesson? Ensuring quality and duty of care is a primary goal for sharing economy businesses seeking success in the corporate travel market.

The truth is, though, it’s a challenge to meet the strict quality requirements of the corporate travel market. Homeowners aren’t typically constrained by the same rules and regulations as official hotel chains, for example. This is clearly no issue with many leisure travellers, who are prepared to take risks for a quirky or home-from-home experience. However, for corporate travel bookers, having safeguards in place is essential.

New hotel brands that bridge the gap

To overcome the challenges and offer shared-economy-type experiences to corporate travelers, many established hotel brands are creating entirely new accommodation offerings. These include Aloft by Starwood Hotels, Moxy by Marriott, and Canopy and Tru by Hilton. These offerings appeal to travelers looking for fun, quirky and boutique experiences. And they satisfy the demands of corporate travel managers and agencies, all because these brands already know how to meet corporates’ quality, consistency, and duty of care requirements.

And just as hotels are evolving to meet new demands for shared-economy-style accommodation, corporate travel agents must also modify their offerings and processes to stay relevant for customers. In particular, travel managers need new ways to deliver variety while avoiding or limiting out of policy bookings. Businesses also need ways to engage and connect with travelers throughout their trip, putting them in control with mobile solutions that can help them manage in-trip admin, while also protecting their safety and helping them to manage costs.

Deliver the best travel experiences with Travelport

At Travelport, we are constantly evolving our proposition to meet the needs of modern business travelers. For this reason, we are actively pursuing properties across many categories and types to ensure the greatest possible choice and value for your people.

As well as offering all of the large chain hotels on our platform – including their new brands, designed to deliver unique experiences – we also offer thousands of independently owned and boutique hotels in locations around the world. All of these can be booked within agents’ normal workflows in a way that’s fully auditable and totally compliant with organization’s corporate travel policies. 

 

Please email us to learn more about Travelport’s varied and constantly expanding property portfolio and policy compliant booking experiences for shared-economy-type accommodations.