Edit ModuleShow Tags

Do corporate travel programs love the sharing economy?

Times have changed for business travelers and services like Uber and Airbnb


Not so long ago, corporate travel managers (no doubt encouraged by anxious lawyers) discouraged employees from using ride- and accommodation-sharing services such as Uber, Lyft, or Airbnb for business travel.

Times have changed.

According to a recent report in the Skift Corporate Travel Innovation Report, about one-half of all companies surveyed now allow the use of ride-sharing services in corporate travel, and 30 percent of companies allowed the use of Airbnb for corporate travel, up significantly from last year. 

Why the change?

Cost is a big factor. Corporate travel can be a big cost item, and ride-sharing and accommodation services can cost 30 percent to 40 percent less than traditional transportation and accommodation costs. In fact, the State of California passed a law in 2015 permitting its employees to be reimbursed for such services, seeing it as a key way to cut travel costs.

More importantly, perhaps, is the fact that employees want to use these services. They use them in their personal lives, and have become accustomed to the convenience. While many employers have attempted to limit employee use of these services, employees have pushed back. Not too long after IBM officially prohibited employees from using such services in corporate travel, it had to reverse itself because the policy caused such an outcry among employees.

Whether you are an employer looking to permit sharing services like Uber, Lyft and Airbnb, or an employer who already permits the use of such services, it’s a good idea to have a policy in place setting out some common-sense precautions for employees. The policy should address:

  • Circumstances under which it is acceptable or not acceptable to use sharing services (for example, traveling in Seattle on a business trip could be a much different experience than traveling in Pakistan).
  • Whether the sharing service is legal in that particular jurisdiction,
  • Whether the provider has been vetted for safety and other concerns,
  • Which services will be reimbursed and what supporting documentation is expected for reimbursement,
  • Any back-up plans in the event the sharing service does not work as planned.

It is always a good idea for employers to remind traveling employees of common-sense traveling precautions, regardless of where or how they travel. And finally, employers will also want to assess whether corporate insurance policies cover employees while they are using ride or accommodation-sharing services.       

Aware that more business travelers are using their services, Airbnb and Uber, to offer two examples, have taken steps to make tracking of employees and their bookings and expenses easier, taking away some of the objections corporate travel managers have expressed in the past. For corporate travel managers, now might be a good time to examine travel policies to ensure they are keeping up with the reality of employees’ travel.

Edit Module
Danielle Urban

Danielle S. Urban is a partner in the Denver office of Fisher Phillips, representing employers nationally in labor, employment, civil rights, employee benefits and immigration matters. Contact her at durban@fisherphillips.com or 303.218.3650.

Get more content like this: Subscribe to the magazine | Sign up for our Free e-newsletter

Edit ModuleShow Tags

Archive »Related Articles

Design Your Business Around Your Health

Work-life balance advice: Make time to practice something that contributes to a calm mind every day.

The Holistic Divorce: How to Separate the Family Unit Without Destroying It

Collaborative Divorce does not change this reality, but it provides a structure and the resources for the most healthy and holistic result for the family as whole.

Denver Home Sales Plunge, Luxury Market Cools

According to the November report by the Denver Metro Association of Realtors, active listings are up 47 percent from last year while condo listings are on the rise by 61 percent.
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleEdit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit ModuleShow Tags