Sharing Economy: Growth in Managed Travel Programs

Sharing economy suppliers are frequently described as “disruptors” due to the impact intended on conventional ground transportation and hotel suppliers. With the expansion of sharing economy providers into the business travel market, it is timely for travel managers to begin discussions with travelers and program stakeholders. The sharing economy involves peer-to-peer products and services and the top suppliers for business travel are Uber, Airbnb, and Lyft.

The Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) stated that ride-sharing services are presently permitted by 50 percent of corporate travel policies, which advanced from 44 percent in June 2016. However, home-sharing market has quickly transformed that many travel managers have not been able to evaluate advantages and challenges that are involved with having these properties included in a travel policy.

According to GBTA, 17 percent of travel managers allow home-sharing in their policy, while 37 percent business travelers had a similar idea. This detachment means travelers are using home-sharing properties that are not approved by their employer, which can negatively impact compliance and duty of care. A crucial aspect for corporations is training for risk and traveler tracking services, while acknowledging what your business travelers require for a better experience.

For travelers that stay in a home-sharing property that is not supported by the policy, a corporation should have ongoing discussions especially in this rapidly changing environment. In addition, relevant teams such as legal, risk and security should be involved to comprehend the reasons for choosing home-sharing properties, as well as adjustments required to the existing policy to confirm traveler satisfaction. For businesses that add home-sharing to its programs, will benefit from increased selections once hotels are sold out or while a traveler is required in a location where a home might be securer than a hotel.

In addition, Airbnb recently partnered with Concur Travel to allow home-sharing properties to be integrated. However, the traveler will need to leave the Concur site and click onto Airbnb directly to book and this capability is not currently available via the Airbnb mobile app. Airbnb enabled crisis management resources and travel manager tools to aid the corporate travel booking experience.

Uber just announced an updated version of Uber for Business, which includes enhanced controls for travel buyers such as creating rules based on classes of service, times of day, exact locations, and spending thresholds. Another new feature of Uber for Business is managing the travel policy. When a traveler tries to make an Uber reservation that is not compliant, the traveler will not be able to complete the reservation without using a personal credit card.

There are five significant concerns to assess, which will aid a company in determining how the sharing economy fits into its program. For these problems, there are strengths and weaknesses of incorporating sharing economy suppliers into a managed program. We outlined several issues to consider, as well as benefits and risks of utilizing shared services in a managed program.

After absorbing the strengths and weaknesses of incorporating sharing economy suppliers into a managed travel program, a company may decide that now, an impartial view of shared services is best for it’s program. To assist corporations even further with the evaluation of shared services, we created a guideline that provides the subsequent phases in the process. Click the link below to download our white paper on Roadmap to Sharing Economy in Managed Travel Programs.