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Major French hotel group buys English homesharing company, giving further validation to housing tech
French hotel group AccorHotels announced today that it has acquired onefinestay for €148 million (approximately $169 million) with a further commitment to invest €64 million (approximately $73 million) to scale the company internationally.
A kind of luxury-version of Airbnb, London-based onefinestay had raised a little over $80 million since its founding in 2009. Unlike Airbnb, onefinestay curates its listings by actually visiting potential homes in advance. Additionally, the company goes hands-on with personal recommendations, local prep, and an in-person welcome.
Today, onefinestay manages 2,600 properties in London, New York, Paris, Los Angeles, and Rome. The company estimates the asset value of those properties at more than £4 billion (approximately $5.7 billion).
“Onefinestay has successfully captured a sweet spot: a combination of needs that neither traditional hotels nor new actors of the sharing economy can meet,” said Sébastien Bazin, chairman & CEO of AccorHotels, in a prepared statement. “With the acquisition of this exceptional brand, unique operating model and outstanding management team, AccorHotels is developing as the worldwide leader of the Serviced Homes market.”
In regard to the “sweet spot,” Bazin may have a point. While the most well-known name in home sharing might be Airbnb, that name doesn’t necessarily tell you anything about the place you’ll be renting. The service is now a catch-all for bedrooms in apartments, slummy studios, fancy chateaus in Napa, and a million other variations.
While it’s certainly valuable to serve such a broad swath of needs, the advantage of onefinestay is that it has built up a luxury brand over the years by curating specific kinds of spaces on its site. Whether that brand is totally defensible from other offerings in the hotel industry or new sharing economy companies, as Bazin argues, is another question.
Greg Marsh, co-founder and CEO of onefinestay, says the company plans to launch in 40 new markets over the next half decade, which is where the €64 million of additionally committed capital from AccorHotels will come in handy. It’s not just a matter of enabling the platform in a new region and searching for new users there, as was the case with Airbnb. Rather, onefinestay actually requires experts and manual effort to discover and validate spaces for the site.
As with Expedia’s $3.9 billion purchase of HomeAway in November, the acquisition of onefinestay by AccorHotels exemplifies once more the validation of sharing economy companies in the housing space. The Paris-based hotel group employs nearly 180,000 employees across its 17 brands. With a portfolio of 3,900 hotels containing half a million rooms, the group raked in €5.6 billion (approximately 6.4 billion) in revenues last year.
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