Hotel or Home? Pros and Cons of Airbnb for Conference Attendees

Nov 29, 2016 1:30:00 PM

Shari Melillo


As you’re deciding which conferences to attend and lining up your travel plans for the coming year, you are probably also considering what kind of accommodations you prefer and how much you are willing to spend for these comforts.

Airbnb has made some major moves this year in an attempt to increase their market share of business travelers, which is evident by their new partnerships with travel management moguls American Express Global Business Travel, BCD Travel, and Carlson Wagonlit Travel. They have launched properties specifically targeted at business travelers and continue to up the ante on this trend.

Many have had success using Airbnb for personal travel, but business travelers are often on a set schedule and have a particular set of amenities they require. When you attend a conference, the keynotes start early and the networking runs late. We want to know: Is Airbnb a good option for conference attendees?


Pros and Cons of Using Airbnb When Planning Event Travel


Pros of Airbnb for Business Travel:

  • With the three major travel management companies onboard, employees at a wide range of companies will have a platform to make reservations on Airbnb for their business travelers. They have a suite of reservation tools for executive assistants and travel managers all ready to go.
  • For those who attend a lot of events throughout the year, Airbnb may provide an alternative to staying in hotels all the time. You can cook in the kitchen and park in your own spot.

" Airbnb enables you to cook in the kitchen and park in your own spot while attending conferences. "

  • If you’re attending events at your own expense or your company is looking to save money, Airbnb is usually a more cost-effective than major hotel chains, especially for long-term stays.
  • Location can be both a pro and a con. It may be that a conference you are planning to attend is located in an obscure area where hotels are not readily available, but an Airbnb listing is.
  • Airbnb offers business-ready listings which feature hosts who have upgraded their services and amenities to welcome business travelers. To qualify for business travel hosting, a lodging must have the following:
    • High customer service ratings.
    • 24-hour check-in.
    • Accommodations that are entire homes or apartments, not shared with the owner or other guests who are not with your party.
    • The availability of WiFi and a laptop-friendly work space.
    • An iron and hair dryer.
  • Another feature than can be both a pro and a con is that the Airbnb property is not a blank slate like a hotel room is. There are personal items around the home, and it lacks the sterility and predictability of a hotel.
  • Airbnb offers an alternative to sold-out conference hotel room blocks and is cheaper for last-minute travel.

Cons of Airbnb for Business Travel:

  • If your company doesn’t use a travel management company or you make your own travel arrangements to conferences and events, you are on your own to go through the Airbnb listings and find the one that is right for you. You will still have to save receipts and track expenses as you normally would.
  • The Airbnb alternative to staying in hotels means that it lacks the benefits that come along with a hotel stay such as predictability, anonymity, and convenience.

"The Airbnb alternative to staying in hotels means that it lacks the benefits that come along with a hotel stay such as predictability, anonymity, and convenience."

  • The savings of Airbnb comes at the sacrifice of common hotel amenities such as room service, laundry service, daily housekeeping, a concierge, a hotel shuttle, and real-time responses to maintenance issues.
  • The con to the location issue is that for many conferences and conventions that are held in major cities such as Las Vegas and Boston, the Airbnb alternatives are much further away from the event venue than the hotels.
  • The liability insurance that Airbnb offers its hosts does not cover liability from assault and battery, sexual abuse, acts of terrorism, pets, and other specific exclusions.
  • Safety concerns are potentially one of the biggest cons for attendees traveling to conferences, as arrival instructions vary, they may be in an unfamiliar part of town, and there is no way of knowing who may have access to the property while you are a guest.


The takeaway from this list when trying to answer the question of whether or not Airbnb is a better option than hotels for conference attendees is, "Well, it depends.”

I personally like the convenience and predictability that hotels offer—especially when attending a conference where I need to be downstairs and ready to tackle the day early in the morning. I don’t want to worry about where I am going to eat breakfast and how I am going to get to the venue.

"I don't want to worry about what I am going to cook for breakfast and how I am going to get to the venue."

However, many attendees are looking for the exact opposite—they want to discover the host city when they attend an event, they desire a property with unique characteristics, and they are willing to sacrifice some convenience for better pricing.

In the end, the decision for attendees to use Airbnb while traveling will be determined by a combination of cost, logistics of the particular event, and personal preference.

Where do you prefer to stay when attending a conference or convention? Are you a hotel or Airbnb person? Tell us about it in the comments below!


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