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November 13, 2008

Can couchsurfing go corporate?

With the recent economic downturn, it’s no surprise that many companies are lowering their expenses. One of the ways they do this is by encouraging their employees to stay with friends and family during business trips. This allows companies to cut back on the expenses that go with traveling employees, such as hotel accommodation, airport transfers, and other related expenses. Here’s a quote from an article on this new trend:

“Another one of the things we’re seeing companies ask their employees to do is stay with friends and families when traveling,” Mr. Schnur said. “Or stay together, share hotel rooms, to avoid additional costs.” He was listing some of the ways that corporate travel managers are now trimming costs by as much as 30 percent, while still having employees “travel the same amount.”
Source: “Finding Ways to Dull the Glamour of Travel” by Joe Sharkey, from NYTimes.com

One of the benefits I see from this situation, if it becomes common practice, is that business travelers can become more comfortable with the idea of couchsurfing when they’re traveling for leisure. Those who are able to interpret the experience with an open mind might be encouraged to be less finicky about their accommodations in the future, possibly favoring the youth hostel to the four-star hotel when traveling abroad.

Of course, there are some disadvantages. Some business travelers might view this as a negative move, thinking “Why should my friends/family have to be hassled for something the company should provide?” Since image means so much in the corporate world, couchsurfing might not be a good option if it doesn’t match the company’s brand.

Somehow, I don’t see corporate couchsurfing as a permanent movement. When the economy improves, it’s likely that they will go back to their previous practices. Or if corporations completely strip business travel of its glamor, then it’s likely that their employees will lean towards telepresence instead.

Is couchsurfing a good way for businesses to cut expenses?  How will this affect the couchsurfing culture that many vagabonds are familiar with?

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Category: General


One Response to “Can couchsurfing go corporate?”

  1. » Lessons from a couchsurfing nightmare :: Vagablogging :: Rolf Potts Vagabonding Blog Says:

    [...] is nothing short of a vagabonding phenomenon, and, as we recently noted, it might even be catching on with corporate travelers. On the surface it has obvious appeal — free accommodations on the road can extend your [...]

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