Skift Take

Let the festivities begin this week at the Airbnb Open, which could prove to be one of the company's seminal moments. The world of travelers, hosts and everyone else in hospitality will be watching to learn what comes next for a platform that's eager to look towards the future while also working through legal battles at the heart of hampering progress.

skift-seedlingsThis week the Airbnb Open kicks off in Los Angeles and we can bet we’ll hear announcements about the future of the Airbnb platform and what it means for hospitality and home-sharing.

Travelers and hosts have probably heard plenty about Airbnb’s ongoing legal battles lately but, at the end of the day, they also want to know how the platform is thinking about the future of travel. They want to know what comes next and need direction on how to get there.

That’s why this week we’re looking at some of those angles that Airbnb itself has hinted at and also what other startups built around the short-term rental ecosystem are banking on. From smart city guides to platforms helping travelers connect with hosts that share the same beliefs to short-term rentals with consistent experiences and tour operators plugging into alternative accommodations, these are areas Airbnb and other successful platforms are looking at and deciding what their responses are.


RueBaRue creates guides for short-term rental hosts. These guides give travelers information about the property, frequently asked questions and restaurant and things to do recommendations. The startup is also launching a tool this week that pulls recommendations from traveler review sites to help create these guides. So far the site lets travelers book short-term rentals in nearly 90 cities around the world.

>>SkiftTake: Guests of Airbnb and other short-term rental platforms still don’t know what kind of experience to expect when they arrive, let alone if they’ll have all the information they’ll need to successfully navigate a property and enjoy themselves while staying there.


StayMarta is a short-term rental and vacation rental booking site for travelers who want to stay with hosts of the Christian faith.

>>SkiftTake: Airbnb, for example, is taking some steps to curb discrimination on its platform. But has it done enough to help travelers find hosts with shared interests or beliefs? Travel is about learning new traditions and customs, but some travelers are more sensitive. And many others simply want to feel accepted.


StayBillety helps travelers find short-term rentals based on shared interests they have with hosts.

>>SkiftTake: Like StayMarta, StayBillety wants to help travelers find hosts to stay with that align with what they enjoy doing in their regular lives. Some short-term rental sites help match travelers and hosts with shared interests, but the rise of demographic specific alternative accommodation sites in part suggests more work must be done.


Sonder, originally founded as Flatbook in 2012 as a platform for subleasing apartments, Sonder has rebranded to move away from subleasing and focus on the short-term rental market for travelers. The company has two models with its new iteration: the leased model, where Sonder leases properties, furnishes them if needed and rents to travelers and the partnership model where it manages properties on behalf of a third-party owner. officially launched in September and had been in stealth for the past two years while distributing short-term rentals through third-party channels such as, Homeaway, VRBO and Airbnb. The company provides hosts with professional cleanings services, toiletries, kitchen basics, towels and linens and Wi-Fi.

>>SkiftTake: Sonder wants to give travelers consistency and the amenities they most likely would appreciate, something that many short-term rental sites can’t yet guarantee.


TourConnect is a network of travel brands such as hotels, hostels and short-term rentals, tour operators and travel agents that helps all parties communicate and share information.

>>SkiftTake: TourConnect recently signed on AccorHotels Australia and tour operator associations in Europe and the U.S. With Airbnb, hotels and other alternative accommodations sites wanting to get deeper into experiential travel and providing their guests with branded and local experiences a solution like TourConnect is sure to be appealing in the years ahead.


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Tags: skiftseedings, startups

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