Airbnb is expanding its Business Travel program, starting a worldwide rollout of tools that will make it easier for companies to book accommodation for business trips through the short-term property rental service. The new suite of tools lets corporations track employee travel itineraries, collect financial data, and select who is approved for business travel through Airbnb itself. A limited version of the program launched last July, and has been used by 250 companies in the United States, including Google, Twilio, and SoundCloud.
The expansion of these tools brings Airbnb closer in line with more traditional hotels, marking the service's privately owned properties as viable alternatives for people on business trips. Given the sheer number of Airbnb locations in the centers of cities such as New York and San Francisco, houses and apartments rented through the service are often preferable to expensive city-center hotels, or business hotels stuck on the outskirts. In addition to making Airbnb easier for businesses, the company has also tried in recent months to make it more appealing for people to offer up their properties for rent. In June, it introduced Price Tips, a tool that uses machine learning to analyze the huge amount of data Airbnb receives to suggest the kind of prices hosts should charge for their properties at specific times of the year.