There’s nothing like coming home after a long day’s work, putting your feet up and just relaxing. And sometimes that means getting out of the mold of universal hotel brands and finding some place with more personality to lay your head.
To many business travelers, the idea of not staying at a hotel could be considered heretical. The predictability of hotels makes them a solid, albeit impersonal, bet. However, in the last few years, one of the fastest growing segments of business travel is home and apartment rentals. Data from Concur show that while the total volume of short-term apartment rentals is still small, it’s growing exponentially.
Home and apartment rentals from companies like Airbnb, FlipKey, Homeaway and VRBO offer millions of listings around the world. Traditionally, these companies have focused on vacationers, but you can also use home rental on business trips
Here’s a look at the benefits and drawbacks of short-term rentals for business:
Benefits of Short-Term Business Rentals
Let’s face it, business travelers are often status conscious. This kind of dynamic is especially important in the impress-to-get-the-deal world that many business travelers live in. When the hotel brand you chose reflects on you personally, a private home or apartment rental can send a unique message. Instead of taking a client out for dinner, it gives you the option of hiring a chef for a night and having a private dinner in an atmosphere where your client can’t be distracted. You can be the gracious host even while on the road.
More Homey Comforts
If you want a hotel, you’re going to stay in a hotel. When it comes to business travel, you’re often choosing a short-term rental because of a personal interest or specific lifestyle need. I once had a co-worker who had food allergies. She lamented that the grind of restaurant and hotel travel was difficult for her and she was always worried about allergic reactions. It was easier for her to stock up on food and cook in her own apartment. That’s just one of many reasons why someone might chose a rental over a hotel.
A home or apartment rental gives you the ability to get a lot of space for a similar amount of money. You can stretch out and really make the space your own.
Less Variability in Pricing
Hotels are notorious for demand-based pricing. During peak times such as those around big events, a hotel can dramatically increase prices—sometimes by as much as 350 percent. Home and apartment rentals tend to have much less price flexibility. Put differently, the price of a rental tends not to change as much as hotels. This means you can often get a really good deal on a home or apartment rental if you plan ahead.
Longer-Term Work Assignments
Short-term rentals make a big difference in longer-term work assignments. Having to work at a tradeshow or conference for a week or two can be a draining experience for you and a significant cost to your employer. A home or apartment rental is ideal for these situations.
Sharing is Caring
Renting a multi-bedroom home or apartment can save your company money if several employees go in together. Instead of two or three hotel rooms, you can rent a nice place for everyone to share.
Drawbacks of Short-Term Business Rentals
Many companies, particularly larger companies, have very strict travel policies that prescribe where you can stay. Many of these policies are built on favorable contracting rates to middlemen, who in turn negotiate rates directly with hotels. These middlemen return a portion of the discount to the companies—essentially a kickback. Many companies find these rebates highly lucrative, so they are unlikely to allow employees much latitude in selecting accommodations. Check your company’s policy to see if home or apartment rentals are possible.
Home and apartment rentals are unlikely to have onsite support or assistance. If you need someone to sign for a package or if the Wi-Fi goes down in the middle of the night, you’re on your own. It’s important to check reviews to know exactly what you’re getting.