TripAdvisor isn’t exactly a wild-eyed daredevil, but the fastest growing category on its Flipkey accommodation site is apartment rentals, a category that flirts with illegality in large, urban markets like New York.
While Airbnb took much of the heat from the New York Attorney general until they settled, and the Priceline Group won’t get involved in Airbnb-style rentals until the regulatory issues are sorted out, apartment rentals are the fastest-growing category on TripAdvisor’s FlipKey.
Eric Horndahl, FlipKey’s vice president of marketing, said the company’s prime focus is on vacation homes, which are usually secondary residences, but FlipKey has been putting new emphasis on apartment rentals in urban markets to meet demand.
The growth in apartment listings coincided with TripAdvisor/FlipKey’s move in early 2013 away from charging subscription fees for listings and toward what is now a default commission model, where hosts pay a 3% booking fee for rentals.
If you peruse FlipKey’s listings in New York City, for example, you’ll see plenty of apartment listings with one or two bedrooms and the profile of the owner along with any reviews of recent stays.
Unlike Airbnb, Horndahl says, FlipKey doesn’t permit any listings of apartment shares, where an owner might rent a bedroom and stay elsewhere in the apartment.
That is ironic because such shares are considered legal under New York City statutes if the owner is present whereas rentals of entire apartments for less than 30 days are believed to contravene the law. Last April, residents in New York’s largest development were told they’d be evicted if they listed their unit on FlipKey.
At any rate, it is clear that FlipKey is in growth mode both through organic means and acquisitions. Since last year, parent company TripAdvisor has acquired vacation rental sites Niumba in Spain and VacationHomeRentals in Massachusetts.
In April, when FlipKey redesigned its website, it said that it features more than 300,000 accommodations in 179 countries on its sites.
More than 100,000 of those properties are bookable online, FlipKey states.