Uber and Airbnb, which have already proved popular with travellers and urbanites with smartphones, have unveiled new features and links to other services designed to attract more business users.
Uber lets people request a mini cab service or a ride in someone's personal car through its app; Airbnb's site and mobile app lets people book places to stay in people's private homes.
People travelling for business are already big users of Uber and Airbnb. But the companies are looking to make it easier to have their services used in a business setting, with an eye toward business owners and managers.
Yesterday Uber announced "Uber for Business," which will let employers create a business account, link a payment method, and then add employees to the account. When workers are out and about, they can charge the Uber ride to that account.
The billing system is available now in the US and Canada, and is being tested in the UK and France. People who already use Uber will be able to toggle between the accounts, the company said.
Both Uber and Airbnb have also announced integration with the travel and expense management company Concur. The integration will allow people to link their Uber or Airbnb accounts and Concur accounts for expense purposes.
"Travellers have the flexibility to book their preferred listings and travel managers have total visibility into location and expenses," Airbnb said Monday in its announcement. Airbnb's Concur integration will go live in the fall; Uber's is active now.
Airbnb now also has a new Business Travel portal, for business travel search and expenditure management. The site is designed to help business travelers find listings for, say, convenient access to meetings, or comfortable meeting spaces. More than 35 companies have signed up to work with Airbnb on the programme, including Salesforce, Evernote and Eventbrite.
As use of these companies' services grows among businesses, others may roll out new partnerships of their own. The car summoning service Sidecar said Tuesday that it was testing some new features and exploring partnerships that could yield more attractive options for commuters and business travelers.
On June 11, the London Taxi Drivers' Association protested against peer-to-peer taxi company Uber in the capital, claiming the service violated a Transport for London law in which private hire vehicles are not allowed to run a meter. The high court subsequently ruled that the taxi app does not act as a meter and is operating within the law.