The impact of the Sharing Economy on global mobility

As the ‘sharing economy’ becomes ever larger its influence on global mobility will continue to grow. Altair Global takes a look at how business travel will reflect the growth of the ‘sharing economy’.

Sharing Economy: business travel apps
Despite the fact that many companies leading the “sharing economy” are US-based firms, the trend has grown to encompass the global economy. And it is not a slow-growing global trend; “the sharing economy is estimated to grow from $14 billion in 2014 to $335 billion by 2025” (Niam Yaraghi and Shamika Ravi, The Brookings Institute, 2016).

Impact on global mobility

But how does this impact global mobility? Travel services in the sharing economy are key industry disruptors.Mounting travel costs make sharing economy services an attractive option for employers that don’t want one conference or client visit to drain half of the annual travel budget.Altair Global’s clients face daily inquiries from relocating employees and business travellers alike, about utilising Airbnb for temporary living or home finding lodging. However, many employers are still hesitant to allow Airbnb use, due to concerns over risk and a lack of a thorough vetting process.
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Intergrating business travel 

The level of desire among employees to utilise Airbnb from a business perspective resulted in the integration of Airbnb into corporate travel platforms through partnerships with the likes of American Express Global Business Travel, BCD Travel, and Carlson Wagonlit Travel. In mid-2016, Airbnb for Business launched these collaborations, allowing employees and travel managers alike to book stays with Airbnb.This integration further allows travel managers to track and expense their employees’ bookings, similar to how they already track hotel bookings.Reservation details for each business trip can be automatically shared with travel management companies, allowing travel managers to access that data in real-time through expense reporting platforms and travellers to view their booking details in their corporate itineraries and on their mobile devices, which wasn’t possible before if they booked through Airbnb.Anticipating new demand, Uber also launched exclusive services geared toward enterprise customers, along with built-in reporting and trip management features that promise to simplify the administrative burden of business travel.

Intitial difficulties of sharing economy

Despite the allure of these services, there will be inevitable growing pains for organisations that start adapting the sharing economy for business use. When it comes to safety and liability, there seem to be more questions than answers. Although sharing economy brands hold enterprise-facing staff to higher ratings standards than consumer gig workers, these controls may not align with employers’ appetite for risk.Successfully – and securely – capitalising on the sharing economy’s corporate travel potential calls for a collaborative effort between HR, legal, and risk teams to examine all threats and opportunities, then revamp their internal policies accordingly (“A Look at the Trends and Technologies Affecting Workforce Mobility in 2017 and Beyond,” Runzheimer, 2016).This article was prepared by Altair Global the management consulting services company. For further information on global mobility and destination services visit
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