Exciting developments dominated the headlines in March with Airbnb announcing major investments in start-ups in the hotel industry. April saw Airbnb on the march once more with a new investment funding deal. Let’s review the major short-term rental news in April!
Airbnb and the Louvre are offering a unique chance to experience this main museum and art gallery of France after hours. One lucky winner and his/her partner will be treated to an intimate tour of the museum.
After touring the museum with an art historian, the pair will enjoy a Renaissance-inspired aperitif, followed by a lavish dinner in a pop-up dining room. Then, to set the right mood before the pair will turn in (yes, they will get to sleep under the iconic glass pyramid of the Louvre), they will sit back and enjoy an intimate acoustic concert. The best part, arguably, is that all these activities will be held in the presence of iconic masterpieces – the Mona Lisa, the Venus de Milo and the apartments of Napoleon III.
The Deputy Managing Director of the Louvre explains, “With Airbnb’s partnership, we hope to encourage more people to discover how truly accessible and inspiring the wonders of art can be”. Therefore, this partnership will also include a number of extraordinary experiences such as cozy concerts and exclusive visits available via the Airbnb’s platform. These events will definitely not be like watching paint dry!
In March, one of the major headlines was the agreement that Airbnb has signed to acquire HotelTonight. April saw this acquisition concluded with the co-founder and CEO of HotelTonight who will continue to lead this category at Airbnb.
This acquisition is another stepping stone in realizing the ultimate goal of creating an end-to-end travel platform which will integrate accommodation, transport, and experiences. Greg Greeley, the Airbnb President of Homes, explains, “We want Airbnb to be the place where travelers plan all of their trips, whether they are booking one year or one day in advance”.
On top of the acquisition of HotelTonight, Airbnb is also leading multimillion-dollar funding for Lyric, a newer professional accommodations operator based in San Francisco. According to the president and co-founder of Lyric, Joe Fraiman, they are neither a hotel, not an Airbnb. Instead, they essentially design and operate spacious studios mainly targeted at modern business travelers.
According to a source who works closely with this funding deal, it does not mean that Lyric only has to advertise on Airbnb. In fact, Airbnb would like to see Lyric expand as an independent business.
Fraiman shed more light on this new partnership, “We spent a lot of time with that team developing and sharing our vision for where we thought the ecosystem was going, and to identify what would ultimately matter most to guests and how to do it in a regulatory compliant fashion.” He added, “It’s critically important that we be able to build a large, independent, beloved hospitality company. We think that the market is thirsty for it. We know travelers want it, and that’s our goal. We’re obviously spending a lot of time talking with not only Airbnb but all of our investors about that.”
Only time will tell if the industry will be waxing lyrical about this new development…
Airbnb has announced that they will no longer remove listings in the West Bank from its platform, though they will donate the profits that were generated by Airbnb host activity in that region to non-profit organizations committed to humanitarian aid instead. Airbnb has also reached an agreement with regards to the lawsuits that were submitted by hosts, potential hosts, and guests who disapproved of the platform’s policy regarding the removal of listings in disputed regions.
This line of action will also be put into effect for listings in Abkhazia (situated on the eastern coast of the Black Sea) and South Ossetia (another disputed region in the South Caucasus). The platform admits that there are several other disputed regions across the globe and will continue to assess these areas.
South Africa is another country that will be hit with more regulations. Increasing anxiety that home-sharing apps and short-term rental platforms like Airbnb are negatively impacting the tourism sector has led to the introduction of the Tourism Amendment Bill.
The Tourism Amendment Bill will enable the minister of tourism to set limits on the number of nights and possibly even the income that an Airbnb listing can generate. A spokesperson for the Department of Tourism explained that the focus was more on creating a shared economy where everyone could look forward to his/her fair share than attempting to introduce rules to control a private service. That being said, the Federated Hospitality Association of SA (Fedhasa) had requested the government to get tough on Airbnb.
Traveling more south, there is at least some good news for Airbnb hosts in Australia. AirDNA stats have revealed that in the past year the number of short-term holiday rentals increased by almost 50%. This translates to about an additional 30 000 home rentals!
According to Caitlyn Milton, marketing manager at AirDNA, Hobart is the top emerging city, with Perth, Cairns, Canberra and Airlie Beach also welcoming many domestic guests. Hopefully, this boom will not boomerang back on hosts who have already voiced concerns regarding the market becoming saturated.