Business Travel Accommodations Getting More Homey

Travel for business? You may be among a growing group of people who crave more home-like accommodations on the road. While traditional hotels have been the standard accommodation for corporate travelers, interest in and the use of home-sharing—renting someone’s house for a short stay—for business travel is on the rise.

Read about this growing trend, and how home-sharing companies such as Airbnb are responding, courtesy of Travel Weekly. 

The future of business travel is … a house.

The sharing economy has connected millions of individuals looking for alternatives to traditional services and there’s a growing trend among business travelers to want to stay in a real home versus a standard hotel room via home-sharing companies, such as Airbnb.

Why? For one, a home “hotel” can be less expensive than an executive hotel. A more convenient location is another reason business travelers may opt to stay in someone’s house.

The home-sharing marketplace is evolving at a rapid pace and demand for home-sharing accommodation is on the rise, but business travelers should make sure their company travel policy allows such properties in their travel policies.

Some travel managers cautious about home-sharing

In April, the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) released a report, “Many Business Travelers Staying at Home-Sharing Properties Unsupported By Travel Policy.”

The study called “Home-Sharing and Travel Policies – A Shifting Landscape” conducted in partnership with AccorHotels, revealed that home-sharing properties are allowed in one out of every six travel polices (17 percent). But more than double the number of business travelers are under the same impression (37 percent), meaning many travelers are booking and staying in properties unsupported by their travel policy.

Why are some travel managers slow to approve home-sharing? The study revealed they’re most worried about the safety and security of home-share properties (87 percent) as they have a responsibility to maintain duty of care for all travelers, compared to 55 percent who have this same concern for traditional hotels.

Similarly, three in five (61 percent) travel professionals are very concerned about the unpredictability of home-share property conditions, while about half as many say the same about hotels (33 percent). Still, many companies are making an effort to review home-sharing options before making a decision to include or exclude them from travel policies.

Oracle, a database management company, takes an as-needed approach and has a process in place for situations in which a traveler may need to stay in home-share properties. In the case of unapproved usage, the company reaches out to the traveler to understand the driving factors behind their decision and determine how to modify the current program to meet traveler needs in the future.

Home-Sharing Companies Responding

On the other side of the equation are home-sharing companies, such as Airbnb. Over the last two years, Airbnb has made it a priority to grow their business travel, and has developed new tools for both corporate travelers and travel planners designed to help do just that.

“Where we really saw the opportunity was to create a really unique and different experience that would help companies manage employee travel and help travelers make the most of their time on the road,” said an Airbnb representative.

In 2014, Airbnb began working with Concur on programs designed to make it easier for corporate travelers to expense Airbnb stays. Concur said that Airbnb listings will have detailed property information, such as ratings and the number of reviewers, number of bedrooms, included amenities and a property description provided by the host. Reviews and full-sized property photos will be viewable via a pop-up screen. It is the first time one of Airbnb’s corporate travel partners will add Airbnb inventory to its accommodations search.

Source: Travel Weekly

How to Stay Safe Online, On the Road

One in five travelers has been hit by cybercrime while traveling abroad, according to Kaspersky Lab, a global cyber security company. To help avoid being hacked, read these expert tips for practicing safe Internet use when traveling, courtesy of consumer advocate Christopher Elliott and USA Today Travel.

Only use HTTPS – “Never trust open Wi-Fi networks that require no passwords,” says Michael Canavan, a Kaspersky senior vice president. What’s wrong with an open network? “Hackers may set up fake Wi-Fi spots masquerading as a genuine hotel network,” says David Balaban, an expert on ransomware. “They create duplicate Wi-Fi networks using the hotel’s branded online materials. They use stronger signals and lure users to connect to them instead of the genuine hotel network.”

To be safer, only use HTTPS — Hypertext Transfer Protocol (http) with Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) — when you’re online, especially when you’re on the road. “It’s a more secure option set up by a website that knows security is essential,” says Robert Siciliano CEO of Look for https:// in the address bar, signifying it’s a secure page. Even on an open, unsecure wireless connection, HTTPS is more secure.

If you have to be on a public Wi-Fi network, always use VPN while connected on any public Wi-Fi network,” say cyber security expert Sanjay Deo. “This will encrypt your communications and help reduce chances of being hacked.”

Update your device – Another common error: hitting the road with obsolete operating systems or software. Before you go, remove unnecessary information from your laptops and mobile devices and backup all the data you want to keep and set your web browsers to the highest security setting possible.

Also make sure your devices are updated with the latest versions of your applications, anti-virus, anti-malware and other software updates. To protect your devices while on vacation, secure them with a lengthy PIN number or strong password, and encrypt any data locally stored on those devices.

Internet safety expert, Darren Guccione also recommends activating anti-theft applications such as “find my phone” that allow you to lock the phone if it’s stolen. “So if your phone or tablet is stolen, you can track it, disable it and change all the passwords,” he says.

Don’t advertise you’re away – Don’t post location updates or geo-tagged photos on social media. They can reveal your current and future travel plans to criminals and ne’er do wells. The latest threat: virtual kidnappings, which are becoming more common in Latin America. Cyber stalkers contact your family, claim you’re their hostage, and demand immediately a sum of money, usually affordable and easily wired,” says Mark Deane, CEO of ETS Risk Management.

Don’t leave your device unattended. “The biggest danger travelers have is losing their devices,” says Jason Hong, a professor at Carnegie Mellon’s School of Computer Science. “Don’t leave your devices unattended in public places, because they can be quickly and easily stolen.” Pro tip: Put your name on your device, in case someone returns it to lost and found. Hong tapes his business card to the bottom of his laptop.

Source: USA Today Travel