Reviewing the Risk of Using Uber and AirBnB for Business Travel

Shared Economy Uber

Peer-to-peer sharing of goods and services including transport and accommodation facilitated through companies like Uber and AirBnB has transformed leisure travel in unprecedented ways. This transformation is forcing organisations to understand the risks and legal considerations of incorporating these services into business travel policies, and how best to do so within a travel risk management framework. A recent study we conducted entitled, Share Economy for Business Travel, reveals that 75% of organisations do not have clear policies or procedures for staff using services like Uber and Airbnb, yet over 40% of travellers already use these services when overseas.

There is little doubt that share economy services are here to stay and will continue to evolve in other service industries, creating alternate options for business travellers and employers. How to make use of these services requires careful assessment and consideration by office bearers, risk managers and business travellers alike.

Here are some best practices we recommend considering before using these types of services for business travel.

To read the full report and download the checklists, click here.

Reviewing the Legal Standards in the Region

Any organisation that sends people overseas for work has a Duty of Care to ensure their safety. This includes ensuring mobile workers are physically ready, educated and prepared to deal with any issues they might face. The problem organisations now face is that many of the pre-existing laws governing Duty of Care do not address the issues that could arise from these shared economy services. We advise being proactive about the risks that may arise from travellers using share economy services in the course of their work and to ensure those risks continue to be controlled. Ultimately we recommend deciding whether or not your people should be using these services for work purposes.  When making this decision, we recommend considering the following:

  • Is the service legal in the destination country?
  • Does the service provide a comparable level of safety, compared with other traditional services in that country?
  • Are there clear guidelines for your mobile workers, based on a risk-based process, which detail the circumstances in which they may (or may not) be permitted to use share economy services?

Assessing Local Conditions for Accommodation Services

Shared Economy

Share economy accommodation services have experienced significant growth in recent years mainly due to the scale of adoption by leisure travellers. However convenient or cost effective these accommodation services are, we recommend evaluating the risk just as you would with any other type of accommodation such as hotels, B&Bs, service apartments or guest houses. 

There are several factors which we advise evaluation before determining the suitability of an accommodation:

  • Security standards
  • Emergency response
  • Access to services and assistance
  • Verification and vetting of staff
  • Managing profile/risk exposure
  • Accounting for staff
Besides the factors above, it is critical to evaluate the risk of the accommodation service based on the location. It should come to no surprise that accommodation services in high and extreme travel risk locations are certainly unsuitable. However in medium risk locations, it is recommended to assess the level of risk to determine the suitability of the service.

The use of share economy accommodation services vary based on a location but should be evaluated for suitability on the same basis as other accommodation options. The level of risk to travellers varies based on their individual risk profile and appropriate accommodation options should be suggested accordingly.

Weighing Benefits vs. Risks of Transportation Services

Shared Economy

Similarly to accommodation services, companies like Uber, Lyft and grab Taxi offer an additional level of convenience and cost savings compared to traditional transportation services. They also offer additional travel safety benefits such as:

  • Car and driver identification
  • Quickest route indicator
  • Share estimated time of arrival
  • Cashless transaction
  • Driver rating
  • Information security for contact numbers
  • Liability insurance
  • Cost

However, deciding to use these services depends on several variables including the driver-screening requirements in that country and the condition and profile of the car. Ride-sharing companies operating in multiple countries are generally stricter when it comes to conducting thorough checks on their drivers. Similarly, major providers uphold a high level of quality and standards for their vehicles, usually carried out by a reliable third-party specialist.

In general, we advise that using an established vendor for ride-sharing services is the most reliable and relatively safe mode of transportation for business travellers in low travel risk destinations.

In Summary

Share economy services can offer business travellers various benefits but also pose varying risks. It is important to incorporate the assessment of risk for these services in with your overall travel risk mitigation policies.

To read the full report and download the checklists, click here.

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