Airbnb is expanding its program for business travelers in a big way. The company opened its Business Travel program worldwide and added new tools for businesses to manage how their employees use Airbnb.
Airbnb had been testing its program for business travelers over the past year with a select group of organizations — more than 250 since last July, the company says — but now the program is open to all companies.
The expansion is the latest in a series of moves meant to attract more business travelers: Business travel spending in the U.S. alone is as much $300 billion annually.
In addition to offering the service to more companies, Airbnb has a new dashboard that travel managers can use in place of typical corporate booking systems. It offers an overview of how a company’s employees are using Airbnb, and it has billing and reporting tools that allow companies to keep track of how much they are spending on the service.
Airbnb’s work with businesses began last year and mostly included startups and tech companies. Expanding short-term rentals as an option for professionals requires two major trends to come together: Managers have to become comfortable with the idea of an apartment or home as an alternative to a hotel, and hosts have to offer the kinds of amenities that business travelers are used to.
Those two things seem to be happening; the company says its business offering grew 700% since its launch last year.
Airbnb doesn’t offer all its listings to business customers. Those booking rooms with a corporate account will only see listings for private rooms (not in a shared space) that have Wi-Fi and are available immediately, the company says. The listings also don’t include the site’s more offbeat accommodations, like boats and tents.
Mashable Travel Editor Jessica Plautz contributed to this report.