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Airbnb teams up with WeWork to lure business travellers

[SAN FRANCISCO] Booking a room on Airbnb? Soon you'll have the option to snag a desk or conference room at the closest WeWork location.

Two of the world's most valuable technology startups are teaming up in the hopes of luring young business travelers away from hotels. Airbnb plans to begin a pilot program Thursday with WeWork to provide travellers with amenities commonly found in hotel business centers, such as a work desk, Wi-Fi, printers and meeting rooms, said people familiar with the project.

The companies will start with six cities: Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, Washington, London and Sydney, said the people, who asked not to be identified discussing an unreleased program.

When renting a room on Airbnb's site, corporate customers will be able to save a spot at a WeWork office nearest to where they're staying.

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Airbnb and WeWork confirmed the partnership but declined to provide specifics on the program or future plans.

Business travel could be a lucrative opportunity for both companies. Airbnb rolled out a search tool in April for "Business Travel Ready" homes with a desk and high-speed internet.

The San Francisco upstart said it expected corporate travel on its site to quadruple this year.

But it may struggle to convince executives to trade turn-down service and conference rooms downstairs for a shared office space several blocks away.

WeWork, valued at about US$20 billion, is the world's largest provider of shared work spaces, renting desks to freelance workers, startups and larger companies that don't want to sign an office lease.

Airbnb, with a valuation of US$31 billion, is the largest provider of home rentals.

Both companies cater to a wave of younger consumers with an appreciation for modern design who are comfortable staying in strangers' homes or working next to them.

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