As you would expect, most business travelers stay in hotels while they're traveling, whether it's a low-end just-stay-the-night type of place, or it's a high-end, posh luxury hotel or resort. But it's worthwhile to stop and consider the fact that there might be other options.
For example, one option for business travelers is to consider an extended stay hotel, such as the Sutton Court Hotel Residences in New York City. But another option that most business travelers probably don't think of is vacation home or condominium rentals.
The Vacation Rental Advantage
Staying at a vacation rental on a business trip can put a whole new spin on your standard business trip. Instead of staying at a standard hotel, with standard hotel services, business travelers renting a vacation home can have a completely different experience-from incredible amenities, great locations, and a more comfortable, home-like feel.
Of course, this probably only makes sense for business travelers when they're planning on staying more than just a night or two, when they need a number of accommodations, or when they're planning on entertaining or hosting clients during the trip. For a business traveler on an extended business trip, a vacation rental's kitchen makes it easy to avoid costly restaurant meals. Vacation rentals may also be good options for a business traveler who wants to extend their business trip into a personal or family vacation.
"When a group of friends or coworkers are traveling to the same event, a vacation rental can be a much better option than booking multiple hotel rooms as companies can keep accommodation costs down," says Neil Perry, president of Poptent, a global video production company. Poptent works for Fortune 500 brands as well as advertising and PR agencies. The company produces crowd-sourced commercials and other videos through its social network of over 40,000 videographers in 120 countries."Also, teams can easily gather in living spaces to have an impromptu team building session and/or meetings."
Why Pick a Vacation Rental Over a Hotel?
There are plenty of reasons for picking a vacation rental over a standard hotel when on a business trip. Vacation rentals can be perfect for group business travel because they naturally create a more collaborative work environment through separate locations and common living areas. As a group, business travelers can bond over dinners cooked together in the kitchen, while saving considerable money compared to eating out.
Where Can I Book A Vacation Rental?
There are multiple online resources available for helping individuals or organizations booking vacation rentals for business travel. Two of the main vacation rental booking sites that I've used in the past are HomeAway.com ( www.homeaway.com ) and VRBO.com ( www.vrbo.com). HomeAway.com is good for business travelers interested in international destinations (since about two-thirds of its listing are outside the United States), while VRBO.com's listings focus extensively on America. Travelers may also consider sites like Craigslist, but may find themselves dealing directly with property owners, which can be good or bad, depending on the specific situation. It's also worth noting that sites like Craigslist may not include the safeguards (such as rental guarantees) provided by vacation rental websites like HomeAway.com.
Poptent's Perry has rented a vacation home and adjoining bungalow (to fit up to eight employees) for a week during the South by Southwest conference in Austin, Texas. According to Poptent, the arrangement provides a great 'home base' for its employees, as well as a place where the company could host prospective clients during the conference. It didn't hurt that the vacation rental that Poptent rented had a nice patio for seating large groups of people.
In addition to interesting spaces and kitchen areas, vacation rentals can also provide (depending on the unit and location, of course) nice amenities such as free high-end Wi-Fi, private pools, patios, washers and dryers, multiple TVs or entertainment systems, and more.
Vacation Rental Considerations
Business travelers thinking about a vacation rental instead of a hotel need to make sure they're aware of a few things. First, vacation rentals are usually what they sound like-vacation homes or condos in residential neighborhoods. So they may not be located next to a conference center or other business area. Of course, that can be a benefit as well. Also, business travelers looking for services that hotels typically provide, such as room service or concierges, won't be well-suited to a vacation rental.
Business travelers should consider a number of points when exploring vacation rentals for business trips. First, consider what type of vacation rental you want. Do you want something secluded so your team can focus on the task at hand, or do you want something in center of a city? Second, consider the vacation rental's location. Is it near the airport, convention center, or other location where you want to be? Research what's around the property (shops, restaurants, bars, local attractions, etc.). Does the rental include linens (sheets, towels, etc.) or do you have to arrange for that service separately? If you're planning on cooking, know where you can can get groceries. Verify the property details (number of beds, etc.) as well as the logistics (check-in/check-out times, payments required, etc.).
Sweet Spots for Business Vacation Rentals
When it comes to renting a vacation home for business trips, a few areas prevail. For example, large cities like New York, Los Angeles, DC and Silicon Valley are good bets for finding a vacation rental that will work for business trips. Here's HomeAway.com's current listing of New York rental units (note: you can filter by burrough at the top of the page). About.com's Guide to New York City has created this list of New York City vacation rentals. Not only may travelers get a cool accommodation, but they may save a significant amount of money compared to staying at a business-class hotel, especially when you have a group of employees traveling together.
Tips for Renting a Vacation Home for Business
Like any travel planning, it makes sense to do your homework before you book a reservation for a vacation rental. Make sure you understand the property limitations, location, and refund policies (it may be hard to cancel or get your deposit back if something changes). Book a vacation rental through a reputable site that provides protection for users. Prior to booking, make sure to ask lots of questions about both the rental, the rental's location, and your group's specific needs. You'll want to also make sure you have a formal rental agreement. The rental agreement should define the property owner's rules and polices, so you can be sure you're in compliance. Lastly, pay for a vacation rental via a credit card. Don't do wire transfers.