Security issues put corporates off sharing economy suppliers


Screenshot of Airbnb’s website

EVEN as sharing economy accommodation suppliers continue to thrive, corporate travel managers attending CTW China 2016 say they are still reluctant to take this option due to security challenges.

Winnie Liew, regional travel manager of Applied Materials Inc, Singapore, said her company has recently “said no to Airbnb” in their company policy last year.

Liew explained that the decision was made because her company was not able to track travellers who booked with Airbnb, compromising travellers’ safety and security.

She added: “Moreover, different countries have different regulations with regards to Airbnb. For example, in Singapore not all houses can be rented out so if the company does not know the ground situation well, they will get into trouble.”

Unilever Industries is also “thinking twice” about this option, revealed Geetha Arekal, regional travel head, APAC.

She said: “People are saying that this space is cheaper (by) up to 40 per cent so there is an opportunity to spend less. However, we may have to (spend time to screen) the rental place first for security. We are still thinking how we can do that.”

Benson Tang, regional director of Association of Corporate Travel Executives, opined that small- and medium-sized enterprises might welcome such accommodation options “as their top priority could be to save on costs instead of (ensuring travellers’) security”.

Besides the risk posed to physical security, data privacy may also be compromised when sharing economy platforms are not secure.

A survey of 113 Chinese travel managers conducted by Carlson Wagonlit Travel in February and March found that data security was ranked a top concern, followed by the management of big data and the impact of mobile technology on business travel.

Akshay Kapoor, head of CWT Solutions Group, Asia Pacific, said: “The evolution of technology and the rapid adoption of smart technology has impacted the way we store and manage our data.”

Kapoor cited a 2015 study by the Ponemon Institute, which estimated that the average cost incurred for each lost or stolen record containing sensitive and confidential information is US$154, and the average total cost of a data breach for the 350 companies participating in the study was estimated at US$3.79 million.

“New, unknown threats are constantly emerging and this is what we see as one of the key drivers for data privacy and security risks being consistently ranked among the top concerns of travel managers and travelers,” he added.

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