Airbnb is either quietly building out host services for launch or keeping tabs of the growing crop of startups, which are ripe for acquisition once their product is stabilized and customer base large.
Airbnb, most recently valued at $13 billion, has created an ecosystem of startups looking to cash in on the company’s success by offering services to hosts and guests, both of whom are becoming more sophisticated in how they operate their rentals and what they expect out of a stay.
Similar to the way that Salesforce’s success led to a partner community of consultants and app vendors or how the App Store spawned the billion-dollar app economy, Airbnb’s business has paved the way for startups that make hosting easier and more lucrative by handling guest communication, cleaning services, key swaps, and price automation.
Former Expedia CEO, active travel startup investor, and Couchsurfing chairman Erik Blachford describes these services, which target hosts across the home-sharing market as “shadow hospitality infrastructure that allow hosts to offer up a more professional type of stay and allow stays to be a little more consistent across various listings and cities.”
Airbnb’s Startup Ecosystem
Airbnb formally recognized hosts’ desires for more services and features when, following its redesign in July, it announced a program to celebrate superhosts and analytics tools for measuring performance.
However, it has yet to build out these services itself or identify preferred operators, sparking questions of how exactly Airbnb will court or neglect the growing community.
Startup Beyond Pricing provides data-driven, automatic daily price updates for homeshares. Co-founder Ian McHenry says Airbnb has been “incredibly supportive” but shared no more details regarding how that support takes shape.
Guesty CEO and co-founder Amiad Soto says his startup was founded because of his own support needs as an Airbnb host. Soto’s startup does not have an official partnership with Airbnb; however, both companies are Ycombinator alumnus and thus have a good relationship.
Emily Benkert, CEO of check-in and concierge service Guesthop, says she has worked with Airbnb’s product, customer experience, design, and photography teams “to streamline hosting and deliver a consistently high-quality guest experience.” Benkert says the startup will work more closely with Airbnb in 2015 but would not share any more details.
Several of the startups we spoke to skirted around questions about their relationships and communications with Airbnb.
Airbnb was similarly tight-lipped about its perspective on this growing market of adjacent businesses as well as their plans to introduce, or acquire, Airbnb-branded services for hosts or guests.
An Airbnb spokesperson’s only comment to repeated inquires was, “We encourage our hosts to meet our hospitality standards and provide the most meaningful experience possible for their guests in whatever ways they can.”
In addition to these services aimed at hosts, there are also startups that offer ancillary services aimed at guests including tours and activities, restaurant discovery, in-room dining, ground transportation and events.
Many of these like Vayable, Uber, and Spinlister target the general traveler community, but have found an affinity among travelers also interested in home sharing.
Blachford suggests it’s likely that a “pretty robust eco-system will spring up on both sides of the sharing economy across multiple companies,” and one possible outcome for startups on both sides is to become Airbnb’s, or a similar rental company’s, preferred partners and attract higher demand in return for a standardized service.
This would allow Airbnb to offer their customers the ancillary service without having to build out the specialized expertise themselves.
A good comparison would be looking at how HomeAway has formalized relationships with third-party vendors used by their customers. HomeAway offers deals for insurance, business cards, real estate photography, and tax services through affiliated partners, suggests preferred property managers, and even invested in HotSpot to help them grow their business, which HomeAway encourages hosts use to pay for taxes.
The following list covers the major kinds of services that these startups offer Airbnb hosts; however, it is not a comprehensive list of all those that have launched.
|Category of Service||Company||Features||Cost|
|Cleaning||FlyCleaners||On-Demand Dry-Cleaning App||$4.95 per 5 lbs of laundry|
|Cleaning||Proprly||Full-service cleaning, key delivery, welcome gifts and restocking||$95+ per cleaning|
|Cleaning||Porter||Cleaning, laundry for towels and linens, restocking||N/A|
|Guest Communications||Guesty||Respond to guest inquiries, screen potiential guests, coordinate key exchanges and cleaning, optimize listing and profile.||3% of rental revenue|
|Management||Urban Bellhop||Check-in, Listing Management, Cleaning||Starts at $50 per guest|
|Management||Nest||Control the termperature while away from home, warm it up before they arrive||$249|
|Management||Fibaro||Sensors for smoke, floods, and open windows or doors||$65|
|Management||Lockitron||Keyless entry device that can be locked/unlcoked from afar||$179|
|Management||Ube||Control home electronics from afar||N/A|
|Management||SkyBell||Security camera that allows host to see and talk to arriving guest when they’re not home||$199|
|Management||KeyCafe||Store your keys at a neighborhood cafe and be notified when they are picked up/dropped off||$4/month or $2/pick-up|
|Management||AirEnvy||Full-service management: Manages bookings, pricing optimization, guest communication, key exchange||12% fee|
|Management||GuestHop||Key management, check-in, light cleaning, laundry||$50+|
|Management||BeyondStays||A full-service management company: Cleaning, laundry, key exchange, communication, restocking.||N/A|
|Marketing||Renting Your Place||Airbnb Intelligence for hosts that want to learn more about managing their rentals.||$9.99 for ebook|
|Marketing||Airspruce||Gets professional travel writer to craft title, description and summary of Airbnb property||$78|
|Pricing Analytics||Beyond Pricing||Suggests and automates pricing based on listing, marketing, events and season||1% of earnings|
|Pricing Analytics||Smart Host||Pricing advice based on market, week night and local events||$19/month|
|Pricing Analytics||Everbooked||Suggests and automates pricing based on listing, marketing, events and season||N/A|
|Pricing Analytics||Pricelabs||Suggests and automates pricing based on listing, marketing, events and season||N/A|
Photo credit: The window of an Airbnb property in Loire Valley, France. Manoir de la Boirie / Flickr