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Safety and reliability fears are Airbnb turnoffs, say planners

Event managers have 'trust issues' with the short term letting website, M&IT survey reveals
17/03/2016

Almost half of agency and corporate event planners polled said no when asked if they were planning to use Airbnb for a corporate group this year

Event managers remain uneasy about using Airbnb for delegate accommodation, a Meetings & Incentive Travel survey has revealed.

The sharing economy website, which enables short term lets of private accommodation, has made a concerted effort to tap into the business travel market, with more than 5,000 companies register for its services. Yet, for corporate event managers, it appears too risky.

In the poll, published in the March issue of M&IT, half of the respondents said they would not consider using Airbnb for delegates, another 38 per cent said they were still deciding, and of the 12 per cent of respondents who said they plan to use Airbnb, only 3 per cent said they had already used it for business travel. Reliability and unsuitability were cited as reasons to steer clear of Airbnb. Primary Live’s Becky Dempsey said: “I have a few trust issues with Airbnb as to whether they are reputable suppliers. We also tend to work with venues that we get commission from.” 

Alan Ip, from London Metropolitan University, added: “The quality of accommodation is not uniform. It’s much easier to deal with a hotel when there is a problem.”

Airbnb UK country manager James McClure says business trips are being combined with weekend stays. “The average stay on Airbnb for Business is 6.8 days and almost 15 per cent of stays in our business travel programme are for over 10 days. Also for relocations, especially with families, people want to stay someplace that feels like home, when everything else is unfamiliar. Airbnb offers that.” 

McClure says there has also been a trend for team building and away days. “For example, a company might send a team to Oxfordshire to bond and work for a week; they can rent a large cottage and all stay together with Airbnb,” he added.

The supplier says its review system addresses safety concerns. McClure said: “Like any company in the hospitality sector, things can go wrong and we have set in place more than 40 trust and safety features to help ensure both hosts and guests have a safe experience. These include our reviews system where both hosts and guests are reviewed after a stay, online and offline ID verification, a secure messaging and payments system, detailed user profiles and access to 24/7 customer care.”

  • Andrew Needham of HeadBox 18/03/2016

    As the CEO of HeadBox (www.headbox.com) the UK's first online market place for creative, inspiring and offsite spaces I have been following Airbnb's progress closely. For several reasons I think that over time the events and hospitality industry will start to use Airbnb more and more for delegate accommodation. First of all the average price for a room night on Airbnb is so much cheaper than it is for a comparable hotel room - it’s why in 2016 Airbnb is predicted to deliver 129 million room nights compared to the hotel industry’s 37 million. Secondly standards and quality across Airbnb room nights will continue to increase with its focus on customer service - as of April 2015 one third of Airbnb employees were in customer experience across 10 countries offering round the clock support. And finally Airbnb is becoming a more trusted brand every day - more and more apartments available on Airbnb are now averaging above US$1000 a night which means that people are prepared to trust them with larger amounts of money. It is also important to add some context around the number of times issues have occurred on Airbnb. In 2013 of the six million guests that stayed on 550,000 listings there were just 700 reports of property damage.


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