5 Things to Consider Before Booking a Home-share for Business Travel
The sharing economy is an accepted part of our culture, touching everything from ride services to co-working spaces and travel accommodations. It’s a trend that satisfies the need for many consumers seeking ways to expand their options and save money.
While staying in someone’s home may be fine for personal travel, is it the right fit for business travel?
More business travelers are joining the movement – sometimes against their companies’ travel policies. A recent survey from the Global Business Travel Association showed that only 17 percent of corporate travel policies allow employees to stay at home-sharing properties. However, another survey revealed that 37 percent of business travelers believed home-sharing was approved by their company’s travel policy.
If you’re considering home-sharing, here are five things to keep in mind before booking.
Is it safe?
There are no common safety regulations and standards required across the home-sharing industry.
Some of the most standard safety features – like smoke alarms, fire extinguishers and clearly marked exit signs – may not be in place. Property inspections, adherence to building codes, and protected access to your unit may be overlooked.
You also need to consider whether or not the property host has the right level of insurance coverage – or any at all – to replace your valuables if there is a burglary or to cover expenses if you are injured.
Is it legal?
Short-term rentals are legal in many destinations. However, cities around the world have developed strict regulations or even banned home-sharing outright. Unfortunately, some property hosts ignore local laws and rent out their homes anyway.
Many lease/homeowners’ association (HOA) agreements also prohibit home-sharing. Unless the host can prove property ownership – or that the lease or HOA agreement allows home-sharing, it may be difficult to confirm the validity of your booking.
Are you getting what was promised?
A lodging host can promise many things – clean quarters in a quiet neighborhood with nice views – with photos to reflect those qualities. Unfortunately, photographs do not always tell the full story, and many people have learned that it is possible to arrive and find different circumstances.
Also keep in mind that while your cancellation policy may carry stiff penalties, a host can cancel your reservation any time – even on the day of arrival.
Does the list price include everything?
Listing prices may not reflect the true cost of your stay. Homeowners may tack on additional fees for seemingly basic necessities. Items that might merit additional charges include:
- utilities, including air conditioning
- towels and sheets
- extra guests
Are you prepared to go it alone?
Home-sharing often means additional responsibilities for you. You may need to build in extra time to locate a property – even the entryway. Before checking out, a host may also expect you to dispose of your trash and tidy up the place before you leave. They may not be equipped to handle maintenance calls, or you may need to chase down your host to get help with a clogged toilet.
Amenities like a shuttle to and from the airport, concierge services, pools and fitness centers, a safe to store valuables, and luggage storage after check-out are most likely not available.
With so many unknowns surrounding home-sharing accommodations, it’s always a good idea to weigh the pros and cons and check your company’s travel policy before booking your next business trip. In the end, companies develop travel policies to ensure employees can choose from fully vetted accommodations that are comfortable, safe, and secure.