Asia-Pacific is Airbnb’s fastest growing business travel market, a thriving sector that the hospitality brand is looking to make serious inroads into.
The brand has seen corporate travel bookings in APAC grow 5x year-on-year between 2016 and 2017, compared to Airbnb’s global average of 4.3x. Around 53,000 companies in the region have used Airbnb for Work, the brand’s business travel platform.
Airbnb for Work provides a host of travel management tools to consolidate a company’s business travel plans, from employee itineraries, to billing and third party booking.
David Holyoke, Airbnb global head of business travel, said the growth was being driven by the changing attitudes of millennials in the workforce, and the growth in freelancers or so-called “nomadic employees”.
“Millennials are half of the workforce today, and they are powered by life experiences over, say, possessions,” he said. “We’re seeing more and more business travellers looking for unique accommodations that match their lifestyles, similar to the authentic experiences that come from leisure travel.”
Holyoke added that cost-saving was also a factor in business travellers using Airbnb, with internal research suggesting consumers could save up to 49 percent compared to hotels in key cities in APAC.
Business travel currently makes up 15 percent of Airbnb’s overall business. By 2020, the company predicts it will account for 30 percent. According to the Global Business Travel Association, APAC account for the largest proportion – 40 percent – of the US$1.2 trillion global business travel market.
Holyoke said Airbnb sees huge growth in the APAC business travel sector, as 75 percent of all business travel in the region occurs within it. He said the brand is focused more on outbound travel rather than inbound, particularly in China.
In Singapore, he said Airbnb is “working with the government” on home-sharing regulations, and has “a desire to work with local communities”. India is also a priority, with Holyoke estimating that it would be in the top five Airbnb business travel markets within the next five years.
A central part of the growth strategy for Airbnb for Work is signing partnerships with APAC brands, Holyoke. To that end, the company has agreed deals with Flight Centre and Hyudai, with more in the works.