Exploring – the sharing economy  

There is a lot of talk about the sharing economy gaining momentum within the corporate travellers’ community, but what is the take-up among our clients? This session explored the impact of the newest players in the market.

While about 30 per cent of attendees said they had used providers such as Uber and Airbnb for personal or leisure purposes, only a handful have done so during business trips. Duty of care stops most corporates from considering the newcomers, particularly since safety concerns were reported in the press, but is that bad press justified?

Analysis Mason uses Uber on a regular basis. It has a lot of consultants that need rides across London, sometimes at short notice and late at night. Using the Uber app meets the need for this type of request. The company has set up an account so that travellers don’t use their own credit card to pay for trips. They have account codes so they can charge each trip to the correct department. However, for airport transfers the business reverts to other taxi companies such as Addison Lee to ensure the car is pre-booked and available when needed.

The ability to review drivers and passengers was cited as one of the benefits as drivers can be blacklisted and not shown as available when searching for a cab. Uber’s customer service is also good. If a problem is reported, or a bad review posted, it is quick to refund the ride.

Meanwhile, another client is trialling Hailo, which is sometimes thought to be a safer choice because it mainly uses black cabs. A large car manufacturer and an international bank are considering introducing Hailo in their travel policy in the next 12 months.

Airbnb has made efforts to launch a business product, but take-up for accommodation providers such as this was low across attendees to either breakout sessions, only one or two. Again, the main concern was risk and the safety of the travellers.

One travel manager said he didn’t want his travellers to waste time researching properties. The benefit of having a corporate programme is that hotels are vetted and only those in the right location, providing the right facilities at the right price are included.

CWT’s live poll confirmed the feeling that the appetite to include sharing economy providers in travel policy is not there currently. Travel managers are more open to consider it for ground transportation, as 27 per cent in session one and nine per cent in session two would consider including it in their travel programme in 2016.

If you’d like to hear more about adapting for the sharing economy in 2016, please contact your programme manager, or speak to Phil Brook, UK programme management director.