Airbnb in £160 million deal to buy Luxury Retreats

With rumours of an imminent public listing, the home-sharing platform Airbnb has been keen to expand its userbase and sources of income. Enter Luxury Retreats, a Montreal-based company offering an upmarket Airbnb-style service, which is reportedly involved in a late-stage deal with its ubiquitous competitor.

Airbnb in £160 million deal to buy Luxury Retreats

Whilst most people’s experience of Airbnb extends to, say, renting out a shabby-chic apartment in East Berlin, these homes will offer a seriously upmarket alternative to its hitherto (largely) accessible homes, proffering star-studded sites such as infamous Necker Island, in addition to a villa owned by Francis Ford Coppola.

What gives Luxury Retreats an edge over competitors is its self-professed practise of vetting properties (“curation” to those in the know), lending them a glossier, hand-picked feel. Joe Poulin, CEO and co-founder of Luxury Retreats, had this to say on the matter: “You can’t just load a property and go. Our peel off is that we have a little more control. It’s not fully peer-to-peer, because we certify all property. There’s a need for driving business on the high-end. Luxury is not sold, it’s delivered.”

And while the company’s policy of operating on a 20% commission (“in some instances a bit more”) might seem steep, it nearly equates to the total commission Airbnb makes when a property is listed on its site: Airbnb charges roughly 5% to the lister, then up to 12% to the guest, with cleaning fees added on after.

Rumours of an Airbnb public listing have come amidst the news that the company has raised close to $3 billion (£2.4 billion), and in the summer of 2016 filed to raise $850 million (£680 million) at a $30 billion (£24 billion) valuation. Meanwhile, Luxury Retreats isn’t faring so badly itself; TechCrunch reports that the company has raised a not-so-negligible $16 million (£12 million) in funding, and that it’s been profitable for years now.

With the deal purportedly in late stages, it won’t be long until Airbnb is peddling swathes of sugary Indian Ocean Island. With Valentine’s Day around the corner, it seems those two nights in a Copenhagen studio apartment just aren’t going to cut it anymore. Damn you, Airbnb, and your enterprising – not to mention expansive – ways.

Image: Mac Quin used under Creative Commons

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