Safety and security
Pros: Airbnb’s Verified ID program adds a visible layer of identity assurance to both hosts and travelers. That, along with verified photos of spaces, as well as a by-stay-only review system, provides Airbnb guests with a layer of security. As far the spaces themselves are concerned, all hosts will be required to have a working smoke and CO detector by the end of 2014. Airbnb also goes to great lengths to advise hosts on home safety.
Cons: While Airbnb has verification tools in place, they’re not required for all listings. As you evaluate places to stay, be sure to check that the host is verified, along with the room photography (look for “verified photo” next to listing pics). Also, keep in mind that Airbnb spaces aren’t subject to the same regulation and inspection as traditional hotels. Airbnb self-polices through their corporate office and reviewers, but the differences in minimum requirements between a hotel and a private space are something to consider.
Consistency and service
Pros: Beyond price, Airbnb’s biggest appeal is the unique nature of available rooms. A quick search will turn up spaces from utilitarian to luxurious, antique to modern. Each space is to the taste of the host, as well as the services and amenities provided – some even offering breakfast á la a traditional bed and breakfast.
Cons: What’s granted in distinctiveness is given up in consistency. Quality can vary wildly from room to room, as well as the amenities offered. Unless listed, don’t expect housekeeping, linen service or toiletries—an advantage that traditional hotels have over the majority of Airbnb listings. Be sure to check each listing’s amenities for what to expect.
Your company’s travel policy
Pros: Many companies are currently evaluating Airbnb as a consideration for their program, while a few have even adopted them as a supplier within the program. Airbnb provides an excellent “Plan B” in the case that traditional hotels are at capacity or prohibitively expensive due to a convention or event.
Cons: Many companies are still waiting on the sidelines for Airbnb to firmly establish themselves before making any major policy decisions. For business travelers, the best thing to do is to follow your company’s travel policy and book with preferred suppliers. If traditional hotel rooms are either too scarce or too pricey on an upcoming trip, work directly with your travel manager to evaluate additional options, and to see if an Airbnb stay can be negotiated within policy. If it can, be sure to brief your travel manager with as much information as possible about where you will be staying.
The sharing economy is undergoing a rapid state of evolution as businesses, governments and consumers work out the kinks in (seemingly) real time. At this point in Airbnb’s trajectory, our advice is work with your travel arranger/manager to stay within policy. If an Airbnb stay is possible, be informed about where you’re staying and stay with a host that is verified and whose room has the very basics in safety and amenities.
Booked an Airbnb space for business travel? Let us know your experience in the comments!