The State of Shared Lodging in Corporate Travel

By Andrew Dyer Vice President of Global Supply, Egencia | August 19, 2018

The sharing economy is everywhere, and as more business travelers continue to use it on trips, companies are taking notice. According to a recent survey from Chrome River Technologies, nearly 7 out of 10 (68 percent) medium to large companies allow their employees to use home-sharing services.  Not only are companies incorporating shared lodging options in their travel policies, but alternative accommodation services are conversely expanding their amenities to specifically target business travelers, as well as through strategic brand relationships and alliances with TMCs and other business travel suppliers.

OTAs and travel providers alike, such as Expedia Group, are picking up on this growing trend by offering alternative accommodations on their sites. At Egencia, we began offering alternative accommodations in 2016. As a newer selection, alternative accommodations are growing at a rapid rate of nearly two times faster than traditional lodging on our platform.
 
What's the Appeal?

Although road warriors are commonly associated with hotels, alternative accommodations are becoming a popular lodging option for business travelers. In fact, over 40 percent of business travelers have expressed interest in staying in a home-share.  Shared lodging options have grown in popularity among business travelers as they continue to seek more authentic experiences and one-of-a-kind moments. Other factors for choosing alternative accommodations over hotels include location flexibility, competitive pricing and being able to retain a consistent schedule without disruption, which is an important factor especially for road warriors.

As millennials continue to enter the workforce, we can expect that shared lodging bookings will increase. According to research conducted by GBTA, millennial business travelers are the biggest adopters of sharing economy platforms, and are more likely to use room sharing services compared to their older counterparts.  Seeking both value and freedom of choice, millennial business travelers are more inclined to opt out on traditional accommodation options in favor of more unique experiences.

As booking alternative accommodations for business travel becomes more prevalent, it's important to keep in mind the perspectives of travel managers as well. The rise of alternative accommodations, as well as other sharing economy services, presents new duty of care challenges for corporate travel managers to address. Hoteliers have the upper-hand in this case as travel managers are able to easily collect traveler information from hotel bookings made within their program as opposed to home-sharing bookings made on third-party platforms. With this in mind, leverage and maintain your relationships with travel managers to ensure that your properties remain accessible to business travelers through their companies' travel programs.

Hotels and Alternative Accommodations: A Healthy Competition

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Mobile Technology: The Future is Now

Mobile Technology continues to advance at a relentless pace and the hotel industry continues to adapt. Hotel guests have shown a strong preference for mobile self-service - from checking-in/out at a hotel kiosk, to ordering room service, making dinner reservations, booking spa treatments, and managing laundry/dry cleaning services. And they also enjoy the convenience of paying for these services with smart phone mobile payments. In addition, some hotels have adopted a “concierge in your pocket” concept. Through a proprietary hotel app, guests can access useful information such as local entertainment venues, tourist attractions, event calendars, and medical facilities and services. In-room entertainment continues to be a key factor, as guests insist on the capacity to plug in their own mobile devices to customize their entertainment choices. Mobile technology also allows for greater marketing opportunities. For example, many hotels have adopted the use of “push notifications” - sending promotions, discounts and special event messages to guests based on their property location, purchase history, profiles, etc. Near field communication (NFC) technology is also being utilized to support applications such as opening room doors, earning loyalty points, renting a bike, accessing a rental car, and more. Finally, some hotels have adopted more futuristic technology. Robots are in use that have the ability to move between floors to deliver room service requests for all kinds of items - food, beverages, towels, toothbrushes, chargers and snacks. And infrared scanners are being used by housekeeping staff that can detect body heat within a room, alerting staff that the room is occupied and they should come back at a later time. The January Hotel Business Review will report on what some hotels are doing to maximize their opportunities in this exciting mobile technology space.