Worldwide phenomenon Airbnb (and others like VRBO and HomeAway), the website that allows people to rent out lodging spaces (typically privately-owned residences), has established itself as a disruptive force in the hospitality industry. It allows travelers to enjoy unprecedented flexibility at substantially reduced costs, and via a proven profile rating system has earned itself a reputation for reliability and security compared to traditional rental boards and sites like Craigslist. Despite these benefits, however, Airbnb is potentially a riskier lodging choice for business travelers than conventional hotels. The added regulations and de facto security features of a hotel mitigate some of the issues that Airbnb users may encounter; as a relatively new and unregulated sub-industry, Airbnb relies primarily on the professionalism of private hosts for quality control. Here are three things that employers and employees might consider before using Airbnb for business travel:
1. Accommodations may not meet reasonable health standards. While the reputation rating system on Airbnb appears to serve as a powerful deterrent to renting out unclean properties, it can still happen, and hosts typically aren’t required by law to meet the same standards of cleanliness as a hotel.
2. Accommodations may not meet reasonable safety standards. While hotels are required by law to install and maintain safety features like smoke detectors and fire escapes, many private residences—especially older ones—do not have these features.3. Accommodations may not meet reasonable security standards. Hotels almost universally control access to various parts of their building(s) and typically have at least basic security measures in place in parking lots and entry areas, while many houses and apartments do not.
Corporate Travel and Security managers would be well advised to use diligence in assessing the safety and security of these offerings just as they do the more traditional lodging community.
Originally published on Tuesday, August 26, 2014
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