Business travelers prefer shared economy services when traveling

New transportation and lodging services offered through the shared economy are increasing in popularity.

Easy access to transportation and a comfortable place to stay are the keys to a successful and enjoyable business trip. In today’s world, the services offered via the shared economy are gaining in popularity. 

Last year I began using transportation sharing services Uber and Lyft during personal and work related travel out of curiosity and interest in saving money. Due to the ease of use with a smart phone it is no wonder these services are gaining in popularity. Once you establish a profile and method of payment it is simply a matter of entering your destination via their app(s) and within a few minutes your ride has arrived and off you go. Before departing, all preparation can be done while waiting for your bags to arrive at the airport or as you finish your last bite of lunch before grabbing a lift. 

I am going to use AirBnB for the first time while visiting Portland, Oregon for the Extension Sustainability Summit being held later this spring. The primary reasons I have for doing this are centered on saving dollars from a limited operating budget and to experience downtown Portland as if I really lived there. Michigan State University approves this, but according to University Travel Manager, “For safety’s sake, MSU prefers travelers to rent lodging in which they are the only inhabitants." I reserved a private studio apartment for less than $100 dollars a night, whereas the recommended hotel for the downtown event is nearly $200 per night. That will be a savings of nearly $300 dollars of university funds that can be applied to support Michigan State University Extension programming elsewhere. Of course though, hotels meet safety regulations that individual homeowner’s renting spaces may not. However, experience, and saving money outweigh safety concerns in my case. Services like this are part of what is called the sharing economy

According to a Jan. 25, 2016 article in USA today these types of services are preferred and rising. In 2015, Uber rides grew 400 percent and Lyft 700 percent compared to the previous year. A new report referenced in the national newspaper also stated “Uber passed car rentals as business travelers’ top mode of choice for getting around town”. Certify, an expense management company, conducted an analysis of 30 million transactions and found Uber had 21 percent more rides by business travelers than taxis during the fourth quarter of 2015, as reported in USA today. 

AirBnB, a service that allows homeowners to rent out extra rooms or entire homes, is also preferred for business travel as well. The reasons being: it often costs less than hotels. As mentioned earlier, I intend to save approximately $300 dollars by using AirBnB while traveling for work later this year. Colleagues traveling in groups are also using these services to rent entire homes to save money. The downside with that is perhaps less privacy than what you would have in a hotel. 

It isn’t just a win-win though for business travelers. The service provider, in this case homeowners, benefit too. A 2013 economists article quoted AirBnB as saying, “…hosts in San Francisco who rent out their homes do so for an average of 58 nights a year, making $9,300.” 

Short term rentals through AirBnB and other services are gaining in popularity across Michigan too. Additional information on regulation of short term rentals can be found in a series of MSU Extension articles.

Michigan State University Extension helps communities learn how to improve their social and economic appeal to create and retain jobs. Community leaders are given the tools they need to have a positive effect on their cities, villages, townships, counties and the whole state. 

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