Biz travelers flock to sharing services
Growing numbers of business travelers are using Uber, Airbnb and other shared economy services—and expensing them.
Concur reported that Airbnb transactions in employee expense reports jumped 2,700% in 2014. Uber now accounts for 41% of ground transportation expensed through Concur. In some cities, Uber tops taxis and traditional black car services for business travelers.
“Airbnb, in terms of inventory, has become the largest hotel chain in the world,” said April Bridgeman, managing director and senior vice president of Advito, the travel information arm of BCD Travel. “BlabaCar carries more passengers in Europe than Eurostar. The sharing economy is changing managed travel and cannot be ignored.”
About 10% of Airbnb bookings come from business travelers. That was enough for the San Francisco-based company to create a business travel department in early 2014 and integrate its reporting system into Concur’s TripLink last summer.
Sharing grows share
Uber also joined the TripLink network that allows travelers to book direct through mobile apps, while conforming to corporate travel policy and getting automatic receipts for expense reports.
“Companies should not ignore the sharing economy,” reads a recent white paper from the CWT Travel Management Institute. “As brands adapt their offerings to the managed travel market, barriers to use in managed travel are coming down. This is a robust trend that is transforming society and business models, much like Facebook and Twitter before it.”
Shared services have popped up in almost every business travel service area, CWT noted. Uber, Lyft and Snapcar are eating into traditional taxi services. BlablaCar, RelayRides and Flightcar are taking share from rental car and train services.
Airbnb, BodyCasa and 9Flats.com are moving on the hotel market. Jetsmarer, BlackJet and FreshJets offer seats on private jets that compete with airline offerings. BirdOffice, Sharedesk and pivotdesk provide on-demand office and meeting space. VizEat and EatWith give travelers alternatives to traditional restaurants.