Airbnb has made numerous business traveler-centric improvements in the past year, and partnering with WeWork is the latest in that trend. WeWork offers shared workspace and private offices for rent by the day or month, and its partnership with Airbnb will allow business travelers to request an office space reservation in a nearby facility while booking a place to stay.
Airbnb and WeWork confirmed their partnership to Bloomberg, but didn't offer any specifics on pricing, rollout date, or other details. They did, however, mention that the program will only be available in six cities to start: Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, Washington, DC, London, and Sydney, Australia.
Airbnb moves further into the business sphere
Earlier this year Airbnb announced partnerships with Australian business travel company Flight Centre Travel Group and the addition of its business travel listings to Concur. Along with previously mentioned business travel improvements that came to the app in 2016, it's clear that Airbnb is trying to drive travelers away from hotels and into the homes of its hosts.
SEE: 10 tips for traveling IT workers (TechRepublic)
Add to that mix the ability to reserve office space, obviously aimed at capitalizing on the hotel business center, and you have a clear pattern: Airbnb isn't just for leisure travel anymore.
Airbnb claims that employees from over 250,000 businesses are using its platform while traveling for work—that's a lot of potential revenue that could be made even larger by offering temporary office space.
Is the sharing economy model in business travelers' favor?
Airbnb's partnership with WeWork may sound appealing to business travelers, but the hotel business center still has proximity and price in its favor.
Business travelers heading to one of the six cities initially covered in Airbnb and WeWork's partnership will still have to get to the We Work office space they rented, and there's no telling how close that is to available Airbnb space. If the main driver of having an office while on the road is to have access to a printer, Wi-Fi, and a desk, business travelers can be served just as well in the small facility offered by their hotel.
Without special partnership pricing available from Airbnb and WeWork it's difficult to know if booking a desk or office will be cost effective either.
The cheapest lump-sum WeWork option is a hot desk in a common space (that means first come, first served), which costs $220 for a month-long reservation. Printing and reservation of private workspace or a conference room still costs extra, using "credits" that cost $25 a piece (the plan comes with two credits/month).
WeWork spaces can also be rented by the day, but that requires a $45/month membership that only includes one day of workspace use. Want more than a day? It'll cost you $50 per after that.
Business travelers using Airbnb could easily book a space that offers free Wi-Fi, saving their company the costs associated with WeWork, and getting privacy while they're at it (private offices at a WeWork facility start at $400 for a month).
Those who want an experience that isn't the four walls of a hotel room may find Airbnb's partnership with WeWork to be a nice alternative, but until the companies release a pricing model, it may be cheaper to stick to the hotel business center or an OfficeMax print store.
The top three takeaways for TechRepublic readers:
- Airbnb and WeWork are partnering to offer business travelers the ability to reserve temporary office space in six cities.
- This partnership is the latest move by Airbnb to increase its share of revenue from business travelers. Other initiatives have included partnerships with Concur and Flight Centre Travel Group, as well as app features tailored toward finding business-friendly rentals.
- Hotel business centers still have advantages over booking with WeWork: The facilities are immediately accessible without having to travel, and additional fees are negligible compared to WeWork's pricing model.
- Ready to host your space on Airbnb? 6 tips (TechRepublic)
- Meet the 'average paperclip threat': Why Airbnb rentals are the next big attack surface (ZDNET)
- When using Airbnb makes sense for business travel: 6 things to consider (TechRepublic)
- Airbnb: Inside the mind of a site reliability engineer (ZDNET)
- Travel and business expense policy (Tech Pro Research)
Brandon Vigliarolo has nothing to disclose. He does not hold investments in the technology companies he covers.
Brandon writes about apps and software for TechRepublic. He's an award-winning feature writer who previously worked as an IT professional and served as an MP in the US Army.