As the sharing economy has gained traction among business travelers, many corporate travel policies no longer ban such services. Still, many companies have not set solid policies around them, instead adopting a look-the-other-way approach. Runzheimer product manager and business travel consultant Austin Klein spoke with BTN transportation editor Michael B. Baker.
BTN: What should companies consider when setting policies around the sharing economy?
Klein: Uber, Lyft and Airbnb are all the cool things to do, and travelers are trying to save money and do things more flexibly. The challenge that organizations face is: How do you get a policy around the sharing economy while still allowing flexibility but also still maintaining some type of control as it relates to the duty-of-care type of things, being able to know where your travelers are. Are they making good decisions? Are they staying in safe places where they’re traveling? There’s the inherent liability of the organizations when they’ve got their employees traveling for business. They have some level of responsibility for safety and security of those employees. There’s a balance between allowing them to book Airbnb or use an Uber versus saying, “No you can’t do that; we have to know where you are, and you have to follow these channels.” When you position it more like a dictator saying you can’t do this or that, they’re going to try harder to do what they want and go around it. There has to be some level of meeting in the middle that will make sense for them.
- Austin Klein (Runzheimer) about the sharing economy and business travel.