by Loren G. Edelstein | December 07, 2016
According to an in-depth analysis conducted by Concur, customers using the expense-management platform spent $77 million on Airbnb stays and filed more than 320,000 Airbnb expenses from the third quarter of 2014 through the second quarter of 2016.

Airbnb usage showed strong growth over time; the number of business travelers expensing Airbnb accommodations grew 44 percent year-over-year in Q2 2016.

"Concur travel and expense data shows us that while Airbnb usage is growing across all segments and industries, momentum is strongest among small and midsized businesses and in the tech and higher-ed segments," said Tim MacDonald, executive vice president of global products at Concur. "While hotel spend still accounts for the majority of business-lodging spend, there's an increase in business travelers exploring alternative lodging, especially during major conferences and events."

Concur found the number of organizations using Airbnb increased by 32 percent and overall spend increased by 42 percent year-over-year, from Q2 2015 to Q2 2016. The average Airbnb expense was $242, but average cost varied among major U.S. cities.

Major conferences are a key driver of Airbnb bookings. In an analysis of daily expenses, bookings increase dramatically in San Francisco during Salesforce.com's annual Dreamforce conference held in October. In fact, Airbnb usage was six times higher than average during the 2015 Dreamforce conference. Austin, Texas, ranked number three in Airbnb spend globally during Q1 of 2015 and 2016, which corresponds with the dates for South by Southwest. However, it ranks significantly lower for every other quarter in the two-year window.  

Other key findings:

• Small and midsize businesses are among the fastest adopters. Among businesses with up to 1,000 employees, spending on Airbnb increased by 38 percent in Q2 2016 vs. Q2 2015. On average, small and midsize companies spent $2,800 on Airbnb stays in Q2 2016, while a small number of organizations spent more than $20,000 in the same quarter.

• Hotel usage and spend are still on the rise. Use of major hotel chains grew year-over-year, but at a substantially lower rate than Airbnb. In Q2 2016, total business travel spend on major hotels was more than 250 times greater than business spend on Airbnb.

• Technology companies aren't the only ones using Airbnb. As Airbnb adoption grows, the user base is diversifying. The academic sector is now a major driver of business-travel spend on Airbnb stays. In Q2 2016, six of the top 20 Airbnb spenders were universities, while eight of the top 20 spenders on Airbnb were technology companies. 

• Business travelers may be blending work and exploration. From Q3 2014 through Q2 2016, more money was spent on Airbnb stays in San Francisco than in any other city. Meanwhile, London held steady at number two in the two-year time frame, followed by New York; Los Angeles; Paris; Austin; Seattle; Washington, D.C.; Chicago; and Sydney, Australia, illustrating a growing shift in how employees approach business travel. Business travelers might see Airbnb as a cost-effective opportunity to explore a city's scenic neighborhoods that are beyond walking distance from major hotels.