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Are Business Travelers Entrenched in the Sharing Economy?

Posted August 1, 2016

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What’s “new” in corporate travel circles? At least for some people, it’s the addition of peer-to-peer services to their corporate travel policies. The most recent GBTA Business Traveler Sentiment reveals that while 44% of companies have policies that allow employees to use sharing economy services, such as taking a ride from an Uber driver or booking a night at a private residence via Airbnb, a full 20% of travelers are not sure if they have the option. (See this article on TNooz.com for more insights into the report.)

Perhaps corporate travel managers have some work to do when it comes down to communicating changes in their policies, but travelers themselves are aware of alternative service providers. 88% of Business Travel News survey respondents have used at least one sharing economy service when traveling on behalf of their companies. Let’s take a look at what else is new and noteworthy in the sharing economy.

Making it Easier for Companies to Get There

Airbnb recently introduced a new feature enabling travel managers or designated employees to book accommodations for colleagues and access other trip details to help them plan and manage their trips (previously travelers needed to book their own accommodation). And according to Skift’s most recent Corporate Travel Innovation Report, Lyft is experimenting with the integration of scheduled pickups to better serve businesses who need such capabilities. Service enhancements and tools like these will make it simpler for companies to adopt peer-to-peer vendors and incorporate them into their policies. That’s the expectation, in any case.

Serving Business Customers in an On-Demand World

If the sharing economy has signaled anything to the business travel marketplace, it’s that many people (especially Millennials) value on-demand, self service and flexibility when carrying out their work on the road. That goes for eating as well riding and resting. As a result, many companies are taking a new approach to providing their services to the business traveler community.

Take, for example, restaurant delivery leader GrubHub. In a partnership with Hyatt Centric, they’re piloting a new program called Restaurant To Go offering on-demand room service to guests (See this article on Skift for more details). And WeWork, which provides shared workspaces, is getting in on the business traveler market, appealing to travelers’ potential need for a comfortable away-from-the-office work environment.

For more, Business Travel News explores the phenomenon in Sharing Economy Is More Than Uber, Lyft & Airbnb.

Taking Business Travelers By Storm

At this point in time, the sharing economy has started to develop a strong foothold in the business travel marketplace and companies are thinking outside-of-the-box to serve customers in new (and profitable) ways. It might be too soon to say that business travelers are entrenched in the use of peer-to-peer and on-demand services, but if the trends continue they will be. Corporate travel managers need to buy-in and find ways to update their travel and expense policies. We will continue to share insights as the headlines evolve, so stay tuned. In the meantime, you might enjoy reading:

Why Travel Sharing Services Are Here To Stay

Trend Watch: Innovative Lodging Option Redefines Business Travel

Ride-Sharing in Corporate Travel Slowly Accelerates

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