Gig Economy

Airbnb For Work Redefines The Offsite

Work isn’t what it used to be. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), workers born between 1960 and 1980 (the tail end of the baby boomers and Gen Xers) averaged two job changes by the time they were 32 years old, while their children and younger siblings in the workforce born after 1980, on average, have held 3.5 jobs by their early 30s.

While the majority of workers in all demographic categories report average job durations of shorter than five years, younger workers are the most likely to have short tenures in their posts. According to the BLS, 87 percent of workers under the age of 29 had an average job duration of less than five years, as compared to 76 percent of workers aged 35 to 39, and 69 percent of workers between the ages of 40 and 48.

Moreover, the nature of the work is changing. According to the latest edition of the PYMNTS Gig Economy Index, over a third of all American workers have participated in the gig economy in some way, and the gig economy is beginning to compete with regular full-time work. As of Q1 2018, 55 percent of gig economy workers reported having a regular nine-to-five full-time job. As of Q2, that number fell to 47 percent. The main reason workers — particularly younger workers — like the gig economy? Flexibility.

According to David Holyoke, global head of Airbnb for Work, in a PYMNTS interview, that is why employers need to start thinking differently about how they attract, retain and motivate their workforce. The race for talent is on in an environment where unemployment is below 4 percent, and the largest generation of American workers is incredibly willing to change jobs to pursue better opportunities, including the opportunity to work for themselves. That is why, he noted, Airbnb is expanding the part of its business that targets business travelers, Airbnb for Work, and thinking about how it can help workers even when they aren’t actually traveling for business.

“In my experience, only around 25 percent of employees at a company travel for work,” Holyoke said. “With Airbnb for Work’s new expansion into team-building, homes for off-sites and meetings, and relocations, we now have an opportunity to bring the best of Airbnb to the professional world.”

Three Big Add-Ons: Experiences, Off-Site And Relocation

The expansion of Airbnb for Work is built on add-ons in three main areas: experiences, off-site usages and relocation.

Experiences, he noted, taps into the part of the app that allows travelers to book tours and other unique events during their vacations, and expands to business users for team-building activities, incentives for employees and the like. These newly featured Experiences for professionals is currently available in more than 800 cities globally in a number of categories, and, according to Holyoke, the goal is to expand that.

Branching off from Experiences, the new expansion will make some homes available on Airbnb for corporate off-sites and meetings.

“Sterile conference rooms aren’t motivating and don’t foster creativity,” Holyoke wrote in a blog post announcing the news. “Relaxing and productive environments help people open up to connect and contribute; they help teams achieve their shared goals more effectively.”

The relocation function makes it easier for workers who are forced to undertake the many stressful complexities of relocating for work, simplifying those issues by making temporary housing easily available. As relocation and working off site become more common globally, Holyoke noted, the more sense it makes for Airbnb to expand into this area.

“Airbnb for Work is more than business travel,” he said. “We’re surfacing the best of all Airbnb has to offer to the professional community, and with the new expansion, we have an opportunity to bring the 75 percent that don’t travel onto the Airbnb platform and into our community.”

What’s Next

Launched in 2014, Airbnb for Work has quickly grown into a revenue center for the firm — accounting for 15 percent of bookings on the platform. According to reports, 700,000 firms have used the service to plan business travel and the unit tripled its bookings between 2015 and 2016 alone.

Airbnb has been busy adding more onto the platform this year. In August, Concur integrated its search and booking tool with Airbnb listings, marking Airbnb’s first linkup with a corporate travel platform. Earlier this year, it extended itself more specifically to higher-end customers with the rollout of Airbnb Plus.

The moves all come as Airbnb faces down a planned initial public offering (IPO) in a little under a year, and is looking to bolster its profile in the travel space.

Whether businesses will help bolster that effort by sending more workers into Airbnb properties for a wider variety of reasons remains to be seen. However, by the numbers, it seems Airbnb already has a reasonable foot in the door with business travelers, and every additional inch that it can open the door and welcome more customers is a good thing, as it is looking to shore up its future share price in the next 10 months.

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