“We have been looking at this space for a while, prompted by Airbnb having so much momentum,” Vivek Badrinath, deputy CEO at AccorHotels, told Skift. “This is very much a learning experience for us because we want a better grasp of the sharing platform space and how to manage it.”
As we covered previously in 2013, Oasis Collections launched in Buenos Aires in 2009 when co-founder and CEO Parker Stanberry saw the booming interest among travelers for attractively-priced alternative accommodations in local neighborhoods.
Unlike Airbnb, however, Oasis has employees in each destination who welcome guests at the full condo and home listings, and who also act as 24/7 sources of local insider knowledge. Stanberry emphasizes that he’s basically unpackaging the classic hotel stay by bringing the front desk and concierge to the client where they want to be.
To further differentiate the Oasis model from Airbnb, Stanberry partners with companies like SoulCycle, which he says takes the place of a hotel gym. Guests also have access to a series of private members clubs in each destination, which replicate popular lobbies in lifestyle hotels.
The company has since expanded to over 1,500 listings in 18 cities in major North American and European markets such as New York, Miami, Barcelona, and Paris.
“We look at what we’re doing as putting together the pieces of a hotel in a new way, so when you start thinking of it in that perspective, this isn’t a real portal or peer-to-peer booking site to find a room to stay in,” Stanberry told us. “We are, just like a hotel or hospitality company, vetting every single property ourselves with an 80-item checklist of equipment from the number of towels to the quality of sheets.”
With Accor now as a major partner, Stanberry is planning on expanding to another 10 cities by the end of the year, including opening the company’s first operations in Asia. The development pipeline goal is to reach 70 gateway cities by 2019.
“It’s a sizable investment so we can now also hit the gas on technology development to come out with a pretty cool mobile app in the next couple months, with a guest-to-concierge chat functionality that will be a first for our kind of company,” he added. “So I think there are so many differences here that ultimately the consumer should see this as a new take on a boutique hotel experience as opposed to Airbnb-plus.”
That direct brand service component with guests that separates Oasis from the pure peer-to-peer ecosystem was what attracted Badrinath to the company in the first place.
“We certainly need to ensure that personal level of service is delivered because that’s the core DNA of AccorHotels,” he said.
The Future of Hybrid Hotel Sharing
Presently, there is no link on the AccorHotels site to Oasis Collections, and both Badrinath and Stanberry told us that the back-end integration to implement any potential booking functionality will require time. No hard schedule was given as to when that might occur.
If Accor’s involvement in the Oasis partnership grows to the point where consumers can book Oasis listings via the Accor site, it provides an interesting look into the future of hospitality on multiple fronts.
A fully integrated Accor/Oasis cross-platform booking functionality would be attractive to travel consumers who want to dip their toes into the sharing economy to explore the spontaneity of discovering a destination from the perspective of a local resident. There is nothing that can compare to the feeling of walking out of someone’s personal home and into a street almost completely devoid of tourists and the trappings of mass tourism.
But at the same time, this specific subset of travelers doesn’t necessarily want to untether themselves from the quality control and uniformity of experience inherent in hotels. In a potential scenario where Accor is a consumer-facing Oasis portal, guests would be able to contact both Oasis and Accor’s personnel in each city for guest services.
Also, ostensibly, guests who eventually book direct with either company will have one master account with full signing privileges at Accor properties and Oasis partner members. That offers a new level of customized travel opportunity by combining hotel and city experiences.
Regarding pricing, Stanberry says rates at Oasis Collections begin around the “3-star-plus range and go up,” but the accommodations are generally larger and more unique than typical hotel guest rooms. As a sample, he offered these rough average starting rates for the following cities: Buenos Aires ($100), Barcelona ($130) and New York ($200), while adding that those can fluctuate based on dates and compression.
When asked what challenges he sees ahead with the merger, Stanberry told us, “The first thing is this is a very crowded space and there are a lot of options out there in the boutique hotel space and alternative accommodations, both true shared accommodations and villa rental companies like Inspirato. So our challenge is to rise above the clutter and make our value proposition as clear as possible.”