July 29, 2014, 2:05 PM

Online lodging service Airbnb opens its doors to business clients

A new service aimed at business travelers lets clients book reservations through software that manages business travel expenses.

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Business travelers will soon have the option of booking accommodations through Airbnb, the online portal for finding rental properties listed by homeowners, without having to manually fiddle with an expense report.

Airbnb says more than 17 million people have used its web site, Airbnb.com, to book rooms and homes and even castles among more than 800,000 rental properties across 190 countries. About 10% of those clients were business travelers, a customer segment Airbnb is looking to expand.

“We know Airbnb isn’t for every road warrior, but for larger groups, longer stays, and relocations, Airbnb offers inspired spaces in memorable places to make the most of any type of travel,” says Chip Conley, Airbnb’s head of global hospitality.

One way the company is expecting to appeal more to business travelers is through a new service it’s developing with Concur Technologies Inc., a provider of cloud-based software for managing corporate expenses like travel accommodations. Airbnb and Concur are developing an application that will let Airbnb clients book accommodations through Concur’s TripLink application, which automatically adds the Airbnb reservation details to a traveler’s expense report.

“We’ve noticed that business travelers are increasingly taking advantage of a new generation of suppliers like Airbnb,” says Tim MacDonald, executive vice president at Concur. “Employees clearly want Airbnb in their managed travel program and we think that trajectory will continue.”

Airbnb and Concur say they expect the service to be available this fall. They haven’t released information on the cost of their service, though Concur’s products start at $8 per month per user for small businesses. Larger companies pay initial set-up fees in addition to ongoing fees based on the number of expenses reports processed per month.

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