The adoption of short-term rentals for business travel is gradually increasing as companies and travel managers become more open to the idea, driven by a growing desire for flexibility, comfort, and cost savings.

A survey by Mastercard recently showed that 53% of travel coordinators now say their companies allow vacation rentals for business trips. This marks a notable shift from traditional hotel bookings and highlights a changing trend in corporate travel culture. Sabre’s Global Distribution System now includes over 400,000 accommodations beyond hotels, with its corporate booking tool, GetThere, enabling business travelers to book these properties. A Sabre spokesperson mentioned that interest from agency partners is rising, and while hotel bookings still dominate, the volume for these new accommodations is seeing high double-digit growth compared to last year.

BizAway, a company specializing in corporate travel and technology, has also observed a growing preference for short-term rentals among business travelers. This trend, which gained momentum during the pandemic, meets the increasing demand for flexible travel arrangements and the ability to work from anywhere. Chad Wallace, global head of commercial solutions at Mastercard, noted that some business travelers like to extend their trips or work remotely, making vacation rentals an appealing option.

A survey by Skift Research found that 58% of business travelers who stayed in short-term rentals last year are “very likely” to book another one in the coming year. The primary reasons cited include convenience, comfort, and cost-effectiveness. Jamie Lane, chief economist at short-term rental analytics firm AirDNA, noted that extended stay-type hotels are popular for travelers staying more than three or four days, and short-term rentals offer similar benefits, such as the ability to stock a fridge and avoid eating out for every meal.

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BizAway observed that clients in retail chains and companies involved in machinery and construction installations increasingly opt for short-term rentals due to the lengthy nature of their projects. These rentals can also be more cost-effective, another critical consideration for business travelers. Wallace mentioned that travel managers are adjusting their policies to offer more flexible options, not only to meet employee demands but also to establish cost efficiencies for their organizations.

Despite the growing acceptance, there remains a discrepancy between company policies and actual practices. While 53% of decision-makers permit vacation rentals, 74% of corporate travelers claim their companies allow them. Lane suggested this gap might be due to some companies explicitly allowing rentals, while others may not have a clear policy, leading to employees taking the initiative themselves.

Safety and the ability to track employee whereabouts are significant concerns for companies. Specific policies against short-term rentals emerged as they became more popular, with the primary concern being the inability to track employees effectively. Corporate booking tools are essential for ensuring employee safety and providing a duty of care, which encourages health and safety measures. Wallace pointed out that six in ten companies require travelers to use a booking tool, travel management company, payment card, or all three to maintain control and ensure duty of care.

Reliability is another challenge for short-term rentals. Business travelers need assurance that their accommodations will meet their needs without issues. Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky emphasized the company’s focus on higher quality listings and reliability, crucial for business travelers with low tolerance for errors. Chesky highlighted Airbnb’s Guest Favorites, a selection of two million highly-rated listings, as a step towards ensuring reliable accommodations.

The future of short-term rentals in corporate travel depends on broader acceptance by travel managers and booking platforms. Mint House, a vacation rental and apartment company, still faces challenges in convincing travel managers to adopt their services. At the Skift Short-Term Rental Summit, Mint House CEO Christian Lee described the process as a “hand-to-hand combat exercise” and expressed hope that legacy systems would embrace technology to improve the traveler experience.

Sabre remains optimistic about expanding its short-term rental offerings, driven by the needs of its travel agency partners and the duty of care requirements. As more companies recognize the benefits of short-term rentals, their adoption in business travel is expected to continue growing.