Home-sharing properties are allowed in one out of every six travel polices (17 per cent), according to a new study released by the GBTA Foundation, the research and education arm of the Global Business Travel Association. However, more than double the number of business travellers are under the same impression (37 per cent), meaning many travellers are booking and staying in properties unsupported by their travel policy – a serious duty of care issue.
The study, Home-Sharing and Travel Policies – A Shifting Landscape, conducted in partnership with AccorHotels, also revealed many companies are making an effort to review home-sharing options before making a decision to include or exclude them from travel policies. At organizations deciding not to allow these options, two-thirds of travel professionals either looked at these options before deciding not to include them (52 per cent) or are currently reviewing them (13 per cent).
“A travel professional must simultaneously balance his or her obligation to keep travellers safe with a need to make cost-effective decisions and select suppliers and services that foster productivity, while not compromising the well-being of the traveller,” said Kate Vasiloff, GBTA research director. “Allowing home-sharing services into a traveller program may not be the right option for every company, but it should be an informed decision.”
Travel professionals express home-sharing concerns
Travel professionals are most worried about the safety and security of home-share properties (87 per cent) as they have a responsibility to maintain duty of care for all travellers, compared to 55 per cent who have this same concern for traditional hotels. Similarly, three in five (61 per cent) travel professionals are very concerned about the unpredictability of home-share property conditions, while about half as many say the same about hotels (33 per cent).
Concerns over financial policies and reservation stability are next in line after duty of care issues. Travel professionals expressed concerned about home-sharing properties having non-refundable deposits (58 per cent, compared to 44 per cent for traditional hotels), canceling reservations at the last minute (51 per cent, compared to 36 per cent) and enforcing strict cancellation policies (44 per cent, compared to 35 per cent). Ancillary but important offerings to business travellers, like reliable Wi-Fi (33 per cent), inflexibility with check-in and check-out (28 per cent) and lack of amenities (18 per cent), are less of a concern to travel professionals.
How home-sharing companies can address business travel concerns
Some home-sharing companies have begun tailoring their offerings to appeal to both concerns expressed by travel professionals and business traveller desires. This includes not allowing hosts listing their properties for business travel to cancel a reservation within seven days of check-in and requiring frequently-needed business travel essentials to be provided, like Wi-Fi, a laptop-friendly workspace and even an iron and hangers.
Two-thirds (61 per cent) of travel professionals are very concerned about the current inability to collect traveller information during booking with home-shares. If home-sharing options were integrated into the GDS so traveller bookings could be tracked, one-half of travel managers (52 per cent) say this would increase the likelihood of including these options in their travel policy.
The report, Home-Sharing and Travel Policies – A Shifting Landscape, is available exclusively to GBTA members by clicking here and non-members may purchase the report through the GBTA Foundation by emailing [email protected]. The GBTA Foundation will host a webinar, in partnership with AccorHotels, on April 18, 2017 at 2pm ET to explore current travel policies, concerns about home-sharing inclusion, and current traveller demand as well as other alternative models to traditional hotels. Register today: Home-sharing for Business Travel– A Shifting Landscape.
The GBTA Foundation conducted an online survey of 147 travel professionals in the United States and Canada. The survey was fielded January 31 – February 10, 2017.