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Last year, Airbnb, the tech company that allows users to rent out their spare rooms or empty apartments to travelers, launched its first business travel venture. The tech company claims that using Airbnb instead of a traditional hotel will help business travelers feel more at home when they're abroad, while simultaneously allowing them to be inspired by their unique surroundings.
As lawyers, we're skeptical. While Airbnb can give you a native's perspective of a city, it also lacks many of the amenities of a hotel service, the kinds that you most desperately need when you're traveling for business. You be the judge, though. Here are some of the pros and cons of using Airbnb for business travel:
Hotels are expensive. The average hotel is over $200 a night in Los Angeles, Chicago, and New York. In San Francisco, it's a ridiculous $397 a night, according to Bloomberg. If you're paying your own way, or simply on a tight budget, Airbnb could help shave a few hundred dollars off the cost of your trip.
Con: No Door Man, No Concierge, No Room Service
More likely than not, your business trips will see you working late and working long. If you book an Airbnb, there won't be anyone to hail a cab for you in the morning or bring dinner to your room at 2 a.m. Worse, checking in and out through Airbnb can be a hassle, requiring you to set up a specific time and place to hand off the keys. Hotels are simply more convenient.
Pro: You can Feel Like a Native
The best part about Airbnb is that it gives you a feeling of what it's actually like to live as a native of Paris, New York, or Topeka. While hotels tend to be confined to downtown cores -- or worse, the airports and the 'burbs -- Airbnbs are all over. If you're going to have relaxing evenings in or time to wander around, then Airbnb might be great. But that doesn't sound like the type of business travel most lawyers do.
Con: Contributing to the Destruction of Absolutely Everything
For all the users that love it, Airbnb gets a lot of criticism. In allowing slum lords and everyday Joes alike to rent out their apartments, critics claim the company helps convert affordable housing stock into illegal short term rentals, destroying communities, gentrifying neighborhoods, undermining unionized hotel workers, etc. Airbnb rentals are probably violating the housing and hotel laws of most cities.
On the other hand, even if you consider Airbnb to be evil, at least it's not responsible for Paris Hilton.