Keeping travelers safe in the shared economy

When business travelers choose in-program lodging, it’s easier for their companies to help them in a crisis. But the reality is that more on-the-road employees stay in shared-economy accommodations than ever before.

Last year, the number of people using Airbnb accommodations for business purposes tripled and is expected to quadruple this year, the head of Airbnb’s business travel division told Bloomberg News in April.

So, how can corporate travel managers cope with fulfilling duty of care requirements and responding to traveler demand for alternative lodging? “It’s a balancing act,” said BCD Travel Senior Vice President Kathy Bedell. “Travelers—and companies—definitely want to tap into the flexibility and potential savings of alternative transportation and accommodations. But employee safety is a major concern.”

She noted that as shared-economy suppliers have matured and expanded their services to business travelers, they’ve paid more attention to corporate travel buyers’ demands for safety. Some shared-economy data will be integrated into BCD Travel’s Traveler Security solutions later this year. Traveler Security provides BCD clients with interactive maps and real-time reports so they can know where their travelers are around the world; prepare travelers for potential risks; alert them of incidences that could affect their trips; and connect with them in a crisis.

Shared-economy accommodation suppliers are moving toward more extensive data-sharing deals with travel management companies, and that would simplify duty of care, Bedell noted. In addition, corporate travel buyers may feel comfortable adding alternative accommodation suppliers to their programs after thorough vetting.

“Companies can look for indicators of safety and security,” Bedell said. “Ratings for suppliers or particular properties can help travel buyers identify and remove unsafe properties or owners. But be aware that even properties deemed safe by previous guests may lack basic inspections for fire and other safety regulations. So, the dangers may be invisible to business travelers.”

Bedell, a member of Global Business Travel Association’s Risk Committee, is moderating a panel discussion about how to keep travelers safe in shared-economy accommodations at the upcoming GBTA conference in Boston, July 15-19. The session is July 18 from 8-9 a.m. EDT.

Learn more by reading Travel Risk Management: Keeping Business Travelers Safe and Secure and talk to your BCD Travel account manager about how your program can balance lodging flexibility and duty of care compliance.

Get prepped: Plan to attend travel risk management sessions at GBTA

At the upcoming Global Business Travel Association conference July 15-19 in Boston, you’ll get expert advice for managing today’s ever-changing travel risks. Mark your calendar for these sessions:

Leveraging Data for Mobility, Risk Management and Cost Control Purposes
Lexi Honohan, Senior Director Global Business Strategy & Solutions, Advito
July 17| 8:30-9:30 a.m.

Going Global and Staying Safe with Shared Economy Accommodation Services
Kathy Bedell, Senior Vice President, BCD Travel
July 18 | 8-9 a.m.