The business travel market is ripe for disruption, and Airbnb is on the move to make corporate travel planning less of a headache.
The company, which allows users to list their apartments or homes for short-term rental, has seen major growth since the launch of its new business travel program, Airbnb for Business.
The travel management suite, which launched this year in July, helps businesses keep track of their employees' spending through centralized billing. It also lets those employees register their lodging expenses directly through the website or mobile app.
Today, Airbnb announced that it counted as many as 500 corporate signups within the first 24 hours of launching the new feature. To date, Airbnb serves 1,000 businesses in over 35 countries through the program, including big names like Salesforce and Google.
Companies have been dissatisfied with corporate travel technology, and are searching for better systems that will help manage expenses while providing transparency in employee spendings.
Specifically, the new tool targets companies that lack a comprehensive expense management system, since it provides them with a global inventory of properties ready for rent. That booking can then be charged directly through the dashboard --or, as some businesses prefer, via monthly invoices.
"As we started to go into the market more and more, we could see that there was a solution we could build that would satisfy both small businesses and large enterprises," says Marc McCabe, the Business Travel Lead at Airbnb.
With 492.1 million corporate trips expected to happen this year, according to the Global Business Travel Association, the move to take on major hotel chains is certainly a big market opportunity for the company.
"We were particularly impressed that Airbnb's new Business Travel product suite allows you to uncover unique locations for temporary housing, team off-sites, and conventions where there is an opportunity to build closer working relationships by sharing accommodations in a casual and friendly environment," said Jeff Mannie, vice president at Box, a cloud storing company.
Airbnb is now valued at more than $20 billion, and reportedly raised $1.5 billion in a recent private funding round. News of the business tool's growth comes on the heels of the company's expansion into China.
"The new program is especially useful for longer stays, for group travel and collaboration, which small businesses tend to engage in a lot," explains McCabe. Airbnb for Business has proven especially helpful for small business owners, who are now saving between 20 and 40 percent, on average, on their travel costs, by expensing and tracking them directly through the platform.