New research by the Business Travel Show reveals that more than half of corporate travel buyers now view sharing economy providers as a benefit to their travel programme.
This is a significant increase on the number of buyers who said the same in 2017 (58 per cent compared to 37 per cent), showing attitudes toward the sharing economy in the corporate world are changing.
Subsequently, the percentage of buyers who view providers such as Airbnb and Uber as a threat has fallen to 18 per cent of the 243 buyers polled – down from 25 per cent last year. While 17 per cent are still undecided about the use of the sharing economy, that number is still significantly less than the 38 per cent who were unsure 12 months ago.
The shift in attitude is also reflected in the number of buyers who now allow travellers to book with sharing economy suppliers independently (22 per cent, compared to 17 per cent in 2017), though the number who claim such suppliers are included in their programme has dropped slightly – down to 24 per cent from 28 per cent last year.
Yet despite the increase in buyers who see sharing economy providers as a benefit, a steady 44 per cent still say they don’t allow travellers to book with these suppliers and have no plans to do so.
David Chapple, event director of the Business Travel Show, said: “No one likes change, and the introduction of the sharing economy to business travel has been a big upheaval for some travel managers. Compared to hotel use, for example, the take-up of alternative accommodation providers is still small, but is certainly growing.
“Attitudes are changing and travel managers are finding the idea of using sharing economy providers less threatening. They are also more appreciative that travellers enjoy the flexibility and convenience they provide. Some travel managers are still concerned about potential duty of care issues, and it’s sensible of them to put travellers first. But, in a few years’ time, I’m sure we won’t even be having this conversation and Airbnb will be considered just another accommodation option, much like serviced apartments are today.”
The Business Travel Show takes place on 21-22 February at Kensington Olympia. To register to attend, visit businesstravelshow.com/register