After a recent trip to New York City, a story in the New York Times caught my eye titled “Businesses Turn to Airbnb.” Airbnb, which lets travelers rent space for short periods, has set up a portal to attract business travelers looking for alternatives to hotels.
I have been using Uber as an alternative to taxis and car services for some time and am intrigued by Airbnb as an alternative to a hotel, particularly for longer stays or during busy periods when occupancy is high and hotels are either full or very expensive. I didn’t think of checking Airbnb prior to my latest trip but I will next time. As a side note, I stayed in a Club Quarters hotel in Manhattan which was a great value. I would highly suggest looking to see if the chain has a location convenient for your next trip.
Services such as Airbnb and Uber are disruptive technologies that promise to offer a lot more options to business travelers. Traditional hotel chains will have to adapt to compete as corporate travel departments look beyond rewards points and compare costs and flexibility, particularly with younger travelers. Club Quarters is already doing things quite a bit different from the traditional hotel concept.
I haven’t used Airbnb, but Uber can have its issues. I use uberX when traveling alone or with one other person because it’s usually comparable or cheaper than a taxi and for me, it’s easier. However, in periods of high demand, Uber can really jack up the rates. I left Manhattan on a rainy Tuesday morning when cabs are hard to find, and found that uberX’s rates had been bumped up to three times the normal rate because the app said “demand was off the charts.” That would have turned a $45-ish ride from Downtown to LaGuardia to $150. There were no cabs to be seen, so I scrambled and got a car service for $60 plus tip. Pretty darn annoying, Uber.
As far as Airbnb goes, I don’t see how renting a room from a stranger on the internet could possibly go wrong. Nevertheless, I will at least go to the site and check it out for my next trip. We’ll see what happens, but it always pays to check your options when traveling.
James Mathis, managing partner of Echelon Investment Management, believes in enriching his clients’ lives by identifying, preserving and achieving their goals. Echelon partners with clients through every leg of their race ~ asset management, investment advice and retirement planning. Contact him at email@example.com.
Disclaimer: The author has no stock positions in the companies he mentioned in this article, but could add positions to his own account or to accounts where he has trading authority in the future.