Travel buyers: 'Make more use of Airbnb and Uber'

Will Green is news editor of Supply Management
29 March 2015

Travel buyers should be making more use of services such as Airbnb and Uber, according to an SM poll.

In a majority verdict, the SM Jury decided more use should be made of the services that technology has enabled, though there were concerns that “business travellers would not fancy kipping on someone’s sofa through Airbnb”.

When asked: ‘Should travel buyers be making more use of services such as Airbnb and Uber?’, the Jury voted by seven to five in favour.

The question was prompted by predictions that business travel will become increasingly personalised through the use of technology and data sharing.

Bill Fyfe, head of procurement for the National Trust for Scotland, voted ‘yes’. “Buyers should be using any form of technology that assists them in making decisions, even if it’s only used for benchmarking,” he said.

Emma Goodwin, a procurement manager in the financial services sector, agreed. “There is a place for such services, but with the right inputs, checks and controls from key stakeholders,” she said. “Key questions on personal safety, travel insurance and confidentiality would need to be covered.”

But Nad Aberkane, director at Procuring Group, who voted ‘no’, said travel buyers had to consider staff security. “The benefits of having in place a structured travel management programme with online booking capability are self-evident,” he said. “They reduce overall cost, improve customer experience and reduce the risk to organisations. By moving to a less structured, unaudited system it becomes almost impossible to trace where employees are staying; in addition spend becomes disaggregated and difficult to report upon and deliver savings.”

Gary Moore, procurement performance manager at BAE Systems, said: “I can’t imagine business travellers would fancy kipping on someone’s sofa through Airbnb, as it were. Employer’s duty of care would scupper that.”

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