Airbnb sets its eyes on working millennials in Asia-Pac as key growth drivers

When it comes to holidays, it’s common to hear of people scoping listings on Airbnb for that perfect getaway home away from home.

But these days, it’s also a rising trend for millennial employees in the Asia-Pacific (APAC) region to be doing the same when they go on work trips.

Airbnb launched its “Airbnb for Work” programme in 2015, which allows business travellers to book Airbnb accommodations and automatically bill their employers for it.

They have the option of searching for “Business Travel Ready” listings on the website, and can have agents book their travel accommodations on their behalf.

“What a lot of people don’t realise is that the first guests of Airbnb were actually business travellers.”

“We took off really fast from the leisure side, but obviously we started off from the business side”, says David Holyoke, Airbnb’s Global Head of Business Travel at a media event held at Airbnb Singapore’s office at Cecil Street on Tuesday (Sept 12).

Today, 15% of all Airbnb listings booked are for business purposes, and the company predicts that it will hit 30% by 2020.

What it takes to be an “Airbnb for Work” accommodation 

To be classified as “Business Travel Ready”, the homes have to meet certain requirements.

This includes having a 24/7 check-in option, basic necessities that all business travellers would look for (like shampoo and hangers), being laptop-ready with strong WiFi connectivity, and other various safety features.

“We understand that the business traveler’s mindset is different from those who are travelling for leisure. When you travel for business you start with a laser focus, and then expand your horizons”, says Holyoke.

To access these additional features, all you have to do is log onto Airbnb with a company email address.

Airbnb for Work also includes a suite of management tools that provides travel managers with visibility into financial reporting data and employee itineraries.

However, to access these tools, the company has to be a partner of Airbnb.

The rise of the “bleisure” traveller

“Bleisure” travellers are business travellers who add on leisure time to their work trips, and they are the targets of Airbnb’s programme.

After all, who wouldn’t want to add a few extra days to explore a city after a tiring conference?

Airbnb found that millennials in the APAC region are twice as likely to extend their business trips as compared to their global counterparts.

This highlights a huge potential for growth in the region, as millennials are expected to make up 75% of the workforce by 2020.

With 75% of all Airbnb listings located in places outside traditional hotel districts, it gives these travellers a chance to explore various neighbourhoods over the weekend.

This is especially suited to travellers staying for more than a few days.

It was found that millennials are more likely to go on longer trips (about six nights) as compared to Generation X business travellers, who typically go on trips averaging three to four nights.

Growth in business travellers in APAC

Between 2016 and 2017, Airbnb has seen a 5 times year-on-year growth in corporate travel bookings in APAC, outpacing the global average of 4.3 times over the same period.

Holyoke attributes the faster growth rates in the region to factors such as an increase in investment in research, personnel, and partnerships.

Airbnb is actively pursuing partnerships with companies adding about 18,000 new business partners monthly.

Today, Airbnb has about 250,000 companies working with them, with approximately 53,000 based in the APAC region.

Some of these partners include Flight Center, American Express, and BCD Travel.

Listings are also more cost effective in APAC (49%) as compared to the global scale of 45%.

However, Airbnb intends to focus more on outbound instead of inbound travellers from countries like China and Singapore for the time being, due to the strength of its partnerships across the world.

That being said, China remains as the largest business travel market in the world.

The other key markets in the region include Japan, Korea, India and Australia.