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Does your company have a policy on Airbnb?

With the growth of the "sharing economy," businesses are having to deal with a number of new questions. When taking quick trips on the company dime, should employees hail a taxi or grab a Lyft? When traveling for business, can they book with Airbnb or should they stick with traditional hotels?

You want your employees to be innovative, especially when it comes to saving the company money. Airbnb wants to increase its market share by offering "business-ready" listings and adding a commercial dashboard to its website.

Before you give your employees permission to use these new services, however, you should consider some possible disadvantages. Airbnb listings are typically for part or all of a private residence. That means they may lack some amenities and legal protections you've come to expect from hotels.

Risks and liabilities

It's not just that Airbnb listings usually don't offer free toiletries. Hotels typically have safety features, security guards and staff who are available in an emergency. If your employee should suffer an injury or be the victim of a crime, there might be no one at an Airbnb rental to help. If there is someone there, it may be the property owner or another guest. That could cause different problems.

Hotels are typically accessible to people with disabilities, as well. Airbnb rentals may not be.

Hotel rooms are usually private and often have access to a safe. This offers some protection for any proprietary data your employee may be traveling with.

The Airbnb rental owner may not have the proper insurance, or enough of it, to pay compensation claims. In other words, your employee could face risks that might not be easily compensable.

Conversely, your employee might act unprofessionally or even damage the property. Does your liability insurance cover damage to Airbnb rentals?

Ultimately, your business travel policy should spell out what types of rentals are appropriate and what to do if problems crop up. It should take into consideration your employee's privacy, safety and potential disability needs, and give employees options should they arrive at the property and discover it won't meet their needs. It should also cover employee conduct expectations, and you should make sure you are insured for Airbnb and similar services.

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