Sharing economy a no-no for business travel
|Issued by: Flow Communications|
[Johannesburg, 2 September 2016]
The sharing economy may be redefining leisure travel, but it is currently not suitable for business trips.
Corporate Traveller, one of South Africa's top travel management companies, says while the sharing economy – which includes services such as online accommodation marketplace Airbnb – is all the rage because it helps fill infrastructural gaps while also lowering prices, it should not be considered for business travel just yet because of the complications related to paperwork.
"When booking through a travel management company such as Corporate Traveller, you make one call and the rest is taken care of. Services usually cover every aspect of travel costs – from flights and other transport to accommodation, meals and additional costs incurred during, for example, a traveller's hotel stay. We've got payment arrangements with hotels and other preferred service providers, which means we take care of all the costs and send our clients one invoice that covers everything," says Raylene Pienaar, Corporate Traveller general manager.
"In a sharing economy environment, you might end up with several invoices and expense claims, which will lead to more paperwork and less time for important tasks," adds Pienaar.
Pienaar says sharing economy platforms currently make it very difficult to budget for, and manage, expenses on business trips because travellers often have to pay for services as and when they make use of them.
"It may also be difficult to separate expenses that are incurred on a personal basis from those that need to be covered as part of the business trip," she cautions.
Pienaar says while sharing economy platforms are widely lauded for bringing down prices, it could represent a false economy when it comes to business travel.
"Travel management companies negotiate rates according to the amount of overall business provided to certain hotels, which means that even clients with small travel budgets benefit from special rates," says Pienaar.
She says using sharing economy facilities could also leave some companies in trouble.
"The agreed process for approving the travel costs incurred will also be disrupted as the traveller is booking items individually instead of through a central point within the company," says Pienaar.
Another disadvantage is that companies can't verify beforehand the quality of the accommodation and transport they are booking. "We only use certain rated hotels and transport companies, which means you know what facilities you're going to get. When booking elsewhere, business travellers might end up in a noisy guest house or a room in someone's house where they won't necessarily have the privacy and workspace they need," adds Pienaar.
But, noise may be the least of a company's worries. When it comes to business travel, companies are responsible for their employees' safety, and there are risks associated with using providers that can't be verified. Corporate Traveller only uses pre-approved suppliers, ensuring travellers' safety at all times.
She says sharing economy platforms could also jeopardise companies' data security. "When booking through a travel management company, you keep your business's credit card details in one place, minimising data security risks. In the sharing economy, you share your details with several different service providers," notes Pienaar.
However, Pienaar says while the sharing economy was currently not suitable for business travel, that may well not be the case in the future. She says Corporate Traveller was exploring how to take advantage of the sharing economy for the benefit of customers.
"Our teams in the US and Australia are investigating how to improve some of the paperwork hassles that come with the sharing economy. We want to see how we can streamline administration to make it more viable as a business travel tool," says Pienaar.
For more information, contact Lee-Ann Collingridge at firstname.lastname@example.org, on 011 440 4841 on 072 125 2826.