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Airbnb's next frontier: the business traveler

Melody Hahm
Senior Writer

Airbnb has become the go-to destination for adventurous vacationers or those itching for a weekend getaway. Now, the company is making a concerted effort to target the business traveler.

Forty percent of today’s hotel guests travel for business, according to the American Hotel and Lodging Association. Currently, 15% of nights booked on Airbnb are for business travel, representing 3x growth year-over-year, says Airbnb co-founder and chief strategy officer Nate Blecharczyk.

And he’s vying to gain more marketshare in the corporate world. Over 250,000 small businesses have signed up with Airbnb to use their tools, primarily to facilitate the payment process.

“I’ll say that the most common use case is a trip that combines a work week with a weekend. We see a lot of what we call ‘bleisure,” Blecharczyk told Yahoo Finance at the Skift Global Forum.

Airbnb’s sprawling vision

Earlier this year, Blecharczyk transitioned from chief technology officer to strategy officer to figure out how Airbnb expand into other aspects of travel beyond accommodations.

Last month, Airbnb announced that users could make reservations at 650 US restaurants directly through its app, powered by Resy. Airbnb led a $13 million funding round in the reservation app in January. Blecharczyk says the partnership is in its “early days” and the priority is to expand it globally.

Airbnb is focused on curating travel for tourists, and dining is just one segment of the vision. This week, Airbnb launched 150 Experiences in New York City. Currently, the company offers 3,000 globally, ranging from a private happy hour with a local musician in Rome to making nigiri in a home kitchen in Tokyo. Most experiences range from $30 to $150.

The company teamed up with Sarah Jessica Parker and Michael Strahan to offer experiences where 100% of the proceeds go to charity.

“They’re offered by generally local people who are deeply passionate or knowledgeable about something that interests them. It’s a great way to both meet a local person and share in an activity. The ones that we’ve done with celebrities are really to help with the launch,” said Blecharczyk.

Ultimately, these experiences can be a way to create more touchpoints (and revenue) with customers who might not want to give up their hotel points.

Melody Hahm is a writer at Yahoo Finance, covering entrepreneurship, technology and real estate. Follow her on Twitter @melodyhahm.

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