Is Airbnb Now Ready for Business Travelers?

 

By Robert McGarvey

I have hung back from booking with Airbnb –it all seemed too uncertain, from check-in vagaries to check out confusions and I definitely did not want roommates.

Maybe that has changed. Now Airbnb has rolled out a “Business Travel Ready” program that has me thinking anew.  Tnooz itemizes some of the characteristics of units that qualify: “All properties designated ‘Business Travel Ready’ must meet a list of criteria: At least 60% of their reviews must earn five stars. The whole home or apartment must be available, be smoke- and pet-free and include hotel-like amenities, including Wi-Fi, laptop-friendly workspace, iron, hangers, clean towels and fresh linens, hairdryer and shampoo.”

Airbnb also says 24/7 chck in, check out is available.

Is this enough to shove me out of my habits and into new digs?

Recently I got nudged into the sharing economy via American Express’s monthly $15 Uber credit for Platinum Card holders.  I’ve been very pleased with the rides – the cars, the drivers, the app – and that has prompted me to thinking more kindly about other sharing economy services.

Like Airbnb..

I’d thought for many months that what a business traveler needs – what I need – is predictability.   Whether I am staying at a Four Seasons or – more likely with my clients – a Holiday Inn Express, I know what I am getting and I get it.  No complaints.

But is there more? better? cheaper? to be had by booking in the “Business Travel Ready” program, which Airbnb has apparently had in pilots for a couple years?

I decided to look through the Airbnb site, for possible bookings with upcoming trips.

Note: reader comments on Airbnb are open.  Use the blog’s comment form.  Anonymity is possible.  

Ever more businesses are now reimbursing for Airbnb stays.  By now, just about any business will accept it if the argument can be made that using it saves money.  Does it?

I started by looking at San Francisco, where I usually stay in JDV’s Hotel Carlton, a Lower Nob Hill hotel with rates just about always under $300 per night and a very good location for my purposes – easy walks to Union Square, Market Street, and maybe a mile and a half from the Moscone Center.  

But I have also been eyeing the Tilden, a new hotel in the gritty but gentrifying Tenderloin, where rates are under $200 per night which is jaw dropping in Baghdad by the Bay.  And I really like the Tenderloin, the neighborhood where Dashiell Hammett probably lived when he wrote Maltese Falcon, etc.  

So what would prompt me to book via Arbnb instead?

How cool is this: Airbnb is showing multiple whole apartments (studios) for under $150 per night. At a glance I am seeing nothing actually in the ‘Loin but there’s plenty in true downtown, such as this $199 eye-popper.  At 205 sq. ft it actually is smaller than a typical hotel room but the price is appealing.  I’d put it on my list as a possibility for my next San Francisco trip.

Or I could go budget with this $125 studio.  

Color me interested.

A trip to Washington DC also looms and there I always stay at the Washington Plaza, a mid century hotel in Thomas Circle, a few blocks from the White House and across the street from a building where I lived years ago, when the neighborhood was, ahem, sketchier. It’s quite posh now.  But rooms at the Washington Plaza generally have been under $300 per night, typically well under.  

Here’s a one bedroom condo in Logan Circle for $155, a couple or three blocks from the Washington Plaza.  $119 gets this place.  

Jumping to where I live – Central Phoenix – $77 gets a converted shipping container in Roosevelt Row, very on trend.  

Probably I’d go for $150 for the one bedroom on artsy Roosevelt Row.  

There are plenty of places in Central Phoenix for under $150 per night on Airbnb.  Hotel rooms are typically upwards of $250 for a standard, anonymous chain accommodation.

What’s appealing is that all these places noted in this column are in the “Business Travel Ready” program – and that takes some uncertainty out of this, at least for me.

Is that good enough to separate me from the predictable comfort of a well-run chain’s hotel room?

On my next trip, I am thinking yes, that it’s time to explore the new.

How about for you?

 

1 Comment

  1. I have used Airbnb for business travel and probably will again with one hesitation – cancellation. It is much more difficult to either cancel or reschedule an Airbnb reservation that with a typical hotel. With Airbnb, you get into a loop with the property owner that can sometimes take days (literally) to confirm the cancellation. If you want to reschedule, the property may not be available. Getting your deposit back is also much more difficult, and you usually don’t get everything, as Airbnb keeps the service charge. So, I use them for dates I know won’t change, like conferences, but for meetings and trips that might change, I still with the hotels.

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