Milan Airbnb Studio

10 Reasons Airbnb for Business Travel Isn’t Good

Posted on Posted in Airbnb, Business Travel

Here’s an email I never received at work “I want to use an Airbnb property instead of the luxury Ritz Carlton, Starwood or Marriott property for my business travel happily forgoing my loyalty status and points”.  In my former role as a Corporate Travel and Finance Manager, I managed business travel full cycle from writing T&E policy, managing third party vendors and ensuring compliance for reimbursement.  I loved to research hotel properties and do site visits (inspections) for our recommended lists, however, Airbnb was not an option. For a variety of reasons I wasn’t a fan of Airbnb for business travel, first and foremost was risk management, second they were high touch premium travelers and third, I wasn’t able to vet the properties.

Venice Canal Luxury Flat Fenice
A great find in Venice and managed professionally as a business

 

I was curious about the “sharing economy” (which I think actually enables more people to travel which is a good thing) and on my recent travel sabbatical, I had the opportunity to try six different Airbnb properties as a leisure traveler in Europe.  My inner hotel inspector is always on so here is why I don’t think Airbnb (similar to a dating service in my opinion) is a good option for the business traveler (some of these are cautionary for the leisure traveler) based on my European experiences.

10 Reasons Airbnb for Business Travel isn’t Good

1. Safety/Security – Risk management is the most important business travel item as the firm is responsible for you. Is the neighborhood safe? Is the building safe? Is the apartment, house, room, clean? What happens in a fire?  Where do you go? Is the employee sharing with the host or are solo?

Staying in an apartment building in Milan, I had no idea what the evacuation procedures were – I missed my hotel door map. At another property, I fell down the uneven stairs outside of the bedroom and fractured my foot ending up at the hospital for an X-ray.

Milan Studio Airbnb for Business Travel isn't good
Studio at the end of the hallway, what is the escape plan?

2.Research/Review Time – Time searching for a property by the employee is wasted company time. I spent untold hours researching, reading the reviews of the property and host, cross checking other rental/review sites and looking through calendars for availability and price sorting and I still ended up with a few duds. Is the location desirable to the work location? Add in the communication email time between you and the host and the possibility of being told “no” and starting over.

Plus you need to leave a review of the property and host after the stay, which means you need to set up a profile. Lost time working on actual business.

Antica Dimora Piano di Sorrento flat
Apartment within a larger apartment – the host family lives on site and shares the hallway/front door

3. Perceived Savings – The rate is nice but then the added cleaning costs, Airbnb fees and other costs add up quickly. You’d be surprised to see that the hotel might be cheaper. If the property is not central to the business meeting/client location, then add costs for taxi or rental car. One flat was €20 taxi ride each way (or public transit and walk with luggage) from the train station and central business district. Additional Costs/Lost time

NYC yellow cabs at night
Classic NYC yellow cabs – added business transit costs

4. Delays – Travel delays are par for the course. With my London Airbnb rental, I was delayed due to a Eurostar disruption (I had to instead fly from Paris). I missed the 4pm key exchange with the cleaning lady who I was told spoke no English, so the keys were left at a local shop that closed at 8 p.m. I would miss that too but luckily had a friend in London pick up the keys for me. The alternative? Booking a hotel room for the night and retrieving the keys in the morning. Added costs. High stress.

Basement flat London keys
Key Pickup for an Airbnb flat is very important – what, if like me, you are delayed?

 

5. Cleanliness – My idea of clean and the host’s idea of clean? Very different. With mold, dust, rusty nails, trash behind the couch and broken steps to name just a few of the many issues at one property, I had to contact Airbnb to resolve (always take photos). The photos online were great but didn’t show the details that matter. I left the property early but the host trashed me on the review which was libelous and against the Airbnb rules (who wants that showing up in their Google reputation/character search).

Dirty kitchen pitcher airbnb
This was the supplied water pitcher in the freezer – YUCK!
Moldy furniture cushions
Moldy cushions to put on the rusted and broken furniture – would you use these?

 

6. Responsibility – Hotels are responsible for maintaining their property and ensuring the room functions properly. At the Airbnb rentals, I was shown how to use the circuit breaker box, given the trash/recycle schedule and told not to use the faucet as it was broken. The plant below growing inside the house was hazardous with many dead leaves and attracted bugs (how many plants will your rental have?). What business traveler wants those hassles/headaches?

Plant Hazard Airbnb
The plant hazard inside the house I had to duck under to get to the kitchen from the stairs
Split wood table rusty nails
Safety hazard split wood, rusted nails sticking up – the house is used by groups and families

 

7. Comfort – I won’t lie, I was missing my luxury hotel with Heavenly bed and air conditioning as I slept on futons, hard beds, pull out couches and a single twin bed. One host supplied one towel for three nights which was a bit stingy in my opinion. Another host took two days to supply a hair dryer (thankfully I was on vacation but what if this was a business trip?). I read a few reviews that said one host charged extra for additional rolls of toilet paper (I didn’t book that one). So you may need to go shop for basic items to have a level of comfort. Lost time/added cost.

Milan studio flat sleeps four not good Airbnb for business travel in Milan
I wasn’t keen on the loft bed so slept on the futon couch in Milan
Venice Margherita Guesthouse Single Room
The single bed room at the B&B guesthouse served as a place to sleep only

 

8. Spotty Wi-Fi/No business center – Wi-Fi was challenging at most properties with two having no service. That’s not good for business travelers. Need meeting materials shipped to you or sent back to the office? At a hotel, it’s easy, at a rental not so much. You’ll need to find the local FedEx office to help you ship items.

Portable Wifi device venice
The portable wifi was great outside the flat but not good inside

 

9. Food – You’re on your own to forage for food at an Airbnb rental (unless they offer a pre-stock option). At a hotel, room service makes it easy to be on that conference call or work in the room.

Food supplies airbnb
Stocking up on the basics in Italy
Venice Guesthouse breakfast
The B&B Guesthouse included breakfast – businesses can list on Airbnb

 

10. A good night’s sleep – While the reviews said the outside noise in Milan couldn’t be avoided, I didn’t expect it to last until 3 a.m. I had shut the double windows and both the inside and outside shutters but the air vent let me hear every music note and goodbyes of the bar nearby. Another property had noisy neighbors. If you have a morning meeting, sleep is essential.  Whereas, in Venice, the boats started delivering at 6 a.m. each day. No profile lists noise from neighbors or neighborhood.

Venice Canal view
In Venice a great view but at 6 a.m. the delivery and construction boats fill the canals with engine motors

Bonus #11: On the Airbnb site, they mention how easy it is to rent a house for the team to stay and work together. This, to me, is a HR nightmare scenario on so many levels.  Frankly, I wouldn’t want to share a house with my boss or co-workers and have to share the bathroom!  Would you?

Shower filled with wood
The shower hole was filled with wood at the Airbnb house
Dirty Bathroom
Dirty Bathroom at Airbnb house

So imagine, you’ve had a long flight cramped in coach, because your T&E policy mandates coach (sorry about that), you have an address of the property you spent hours researching hoping the Uber (another post on that) guy finds it and you meet your host, who seems really nice but isn’t a hotelier, to get the keys to your “room, flat, house” and open the door to your new place.  Was it worth forgoing the corporate hotel (and points!) to be part of the “sharing economy” and playing roulette with your lodging options? My former job was to make your corporate travel life easy – you flew in business class, had a car waiting to take you to the hotel and any disruptions along the way, I was here to help solve it as you continued your business.

For me, as a business traveler, I’m all about the hotels because I need it to be simple and easy so I can spend my time being productive on business as I enjoy my room service food, glass of wine and dessert.

Rosewood London Room Service Club Sandwich is not airbnb for business travel
Room Service looks yummy at the Rosewood London

Does your company allow you to use Airbnb for business travel?  If so, would you?  What has been your Airbnb for BUSINESS TRAVEL experience?

4 thoughts on “10 Reasons Airbnb for Business Travel Isn’t Good

  1. I never thought about that before, but realized a few of your points to be so valid when I looked at accommodation for the TBEX in Stockholm. Something I consider business travel for me, I realized that I didn’t want to deal with anything when I came home each night from the conference, I just wanted a hot shower (yes, clean!), a big comfy bed, TV, internet, and exactly the meal you are showing.

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