For Guidewire Software, Airbnb has helped turn extended stays into a selling point for the company
When Mark Daniels came to Guidewire Software just under four years ago to build the company’s mobility program for field consultants, he brought with him 20 years of experience in his field and passion to make the employee travel experience for the company nothing short of “life-changing.”
“I focused on designing a completely different model and mobility experience for employees,” said Daniels, Director of Global Mobility for Guidewire, a software provider for insurance companies. “Instead of viewing road warrior travel as a hardship, my goal was to turn this into a bonus our field consultants could enjoy and use to experience a new city and country. Often this is their first time living outside of their home country, and I strive to make that a positive, life changing experience—both personally and professionally.”
About 800 of Guidewire’s almost 2,000 global employees are field consultants whose job is to go onsite to install Guidewire software for client insurance companies. Implementations can take six to 18 months and are akin to temporary relocations. There are around 80 Guidewire field consultants out on implementations at any given time.
Instead of viewing road warrior travel as a hardship, my goal was to turn this into a bonus our field consultants could enjoy and use to experience a new city and country.
“Our field consultants travel 100 percent of the time to the client site, and Airbnb is a critical piece of making that a sustainable and more enjoyable lifestyle,” Daniels said. “Staying in Airbnb apartment accommodations has drastically improved the quality-of-life experience for our colleagues.”
Guidewire has been using Airbnb for more than two years to support field consultants on stays under a year in length: most Airbnb bookings for the company are one to three months. Airbnb is one option Guidewire offers employees for long-term stays and relocations; hotels and corporate serviced apartments are also offered.
“I advocated from the start that Airbnb could play a pivotal role in transforming our Guidewire employee experience for global mobility assignments,” Daniels said. “Now we have a fully supported and open model for accommodations. There are still employees that will always prefer the Marriott because of the ongoing reward points, but our program for travel or global mobility assignments does not require that everyone take one solution. Employees are free to choose.” Some will combine Airbnb and hotel stays on a specific assignment, he said.
Daniels said Airbnb’s global inventory and the access the Airbnb platform provides employees to choose a listing that matches their location and style choices—and book it themselves—are key advantages for employees and the company.
“The Airbnb network is unprecedented. Nobody can compete with that kind of inventory,” Daniels said. “There are so many local people sharing their homes that it gives me options everywhere. So far, corporate housing has not approached the global inventory or self-service experience or flexibility of Airbnb.”
Daniels added that the flexibility the Airbnb platform provides for “a self-service tech-savvy generation” to go online to review and book the listing of their choice is a key advantage to offering Airbnb at Guidewire, where the average employee age is under 30.
The Airbnb network is unprecedented. Nobody can compete with that kind of inventory.
“Airbnb provides them the control to choose an accommodation that suits their professional needs and their personal style, and have a local experience in the city where they are staffed. They absolutely love it,” he said. “And the filter for work-ready homes has made it much easier for me to control that people have a positive experience.”
Daniels said cost effectiveness, fewer restrictions on long-term bookings, and Airbnb’s support structure for business travel are key advantages for Guidewire.
Airbnb has proven to be a cost-effective option for the company that generally prices out lower than hotels, and long-term Airbnb bookings do not have the lease or minimum stay requirements associated with serviced corporate apartments. Airbnb for Work clients also have access to 24/7 priority telephone support for business travelers, which means that any issues about a listing are handled quickly and directly with the employee without requiring Daniels’ mediation.
And, as company policy allows partners and families with children to relocate with the employee, “For employees with young families, offering the Airbnb option has allowed families to join at the client site and stay together for the full engagement,” Daniels said. “The link with the local host and the destination guide they have put together is another vital piece because it connects employees to the city with recommendations for where to experience the city like a local. They can use that to acclimate to a new place.”
Daniels said Guidewire has recently experienced “a substantial increase in internal transfers” as more employees seek lateral moves within the company in order to experience living in a different country. That’s positive proof that he’s been successful in reshaping Guidewire’s travel program into a bonus and a life-changing experience for employees—and a selling point for the company in recruiting talent.
“We can say, if you are looking for an opportunity to experience different cities and live around the world, Guidewire can provide that for you,” Daniels said. “That is very appealing, especially since the average age of our employees is under 30 and many are seeking the international travel lifestyle that our field consulting roles require.”
As Guidewire has seen the majority of its installations shift from Europe to companies in South America, Airbnb’s global inventory options have become even more important. “We now have more assignments in South America than anywhere else in the world,” he said. “A year ago, I had no presence in Argentina and now I have 13 people there.”
Daniels’ take on all the changes is characteristically upbeat. “It keeps my job fresh,” he said.