Travel Management Tools

Lancaster travel managers prefer Airbnb as a top choice for University travel

The Challenge

Staff and students at Lancaster University knew what they wanted when it came to University business related travel. They wanted community, collaboration, and home comforts. The hotels listed in the University’s Travel Management Program did not offer that, so they looked at alternatives and booked accommodation on Airbnb instead.

“The University’s Student Recruitment Team loves Airbnb” said Dan Barcroft. “Staying in homes rather than hotels helps us relax, socialize and collaborate together.”

Indeed, when asked, most traveling staff and students on the recruitment team said they preferred the comfort and authenticity of places on Airbnb to staying in standard hotels, as well as having the opportunity to spend more time with their team on the road. The recruitment team said traveling was better when they all stayed together in one place.

Linda Wardle, Procurement Manager at Lancaster University, noted that cost was important too but not the top priority for travelers from the Lancaster University community who chose Airbnb. The University’s expenses claim system helped the Travel Management Team achieve one of their biggest goals: Travel savings. So, upon learning this, the Travel Management Team decided they needed to adapt.

Whilst researching Airbnb for Work as an option, the Travel Management Team uncovered a new problem, a loss of visibility into University-related stays. The University needed a way to offer other options like homes on Airbnb without sacrificing travel-program transparency.

The Solution

This is where Airbnb for Work came in. The University discovered Airbnb for Work offered the level of visibility they were looking for through Airbnb’s travel-tracking dashboard. Collaborating with Airbnb for Work made it simpler for Lancaster University’s Travel Team to book for third parties, manage accommodations, and track travel spending. The team could enjoy full visibility of bookings whilst staff and students could choose the places they wanted to stay. With Airbnb for Work, the University was able to empower its people without sacrificing visibility of bookings, traveler location and costs.

After overcoming a few customary internal hurdles, Wardle said the response to adding Airbnb as a new alternative was positive, so they decided to fully embrace Airbnb for Work, and in 2017, began advertising the option to choose Airbnb for University travel.

I tell all my colleagues at other Universities about Airbnb for Work. It lets us give travelers the accommodations they want whilst enabling the University to manage travel centrally. Travelers love getting more for their travel budget compared to hotels, and the University loves the lower costs and increased control.

– Linda Wardle, Procurement Manager, Lancaster University


When University travelers booked homes on Airbnb instead of staying in hotels in 2018, Wardle noted that it almost always lowered costs. The University spent a substantial amount using Airbnb for Work. Although this was a small proportion of its overall travel spend for the year, it was not an insignificant amount of money. For travel to domestic cities like London, Birmingham, and Manchester, the University’s average daily rate was lower for stays in homes on Airbnb by as much as 73 percent compared to hotels used in the previous year. For international travel to cities like Beijing, Paris and Stockholm, the average daily rate reductions were even more significant. In total, Airbnb for Work saved Lancaster University a significant amount in 2018 and became a cost effective alternative.

Giving staff and students the choice to book on Airbnb also meant that team collaboration and the ability to prepare home-cooked meals could make trips even more memorable and fun.

“People love being able to prepare their own meals,” said Linda Wardle, Procurement Manager at Lancaster University. “Staying in homes found using Airbnb for Work helps them eat more healthily, which can be a big challenge on the road.”

The bottom line: Having the Airbnb platform as an official option in its travel program helped cut costs whilst helping to make the University community happier, healthier and more productive.