To be honest, this acquisition is a bit puzzling, and has us wondering: Why buy when you can partner instead? But perhaps Airbnb is onto something.
Airbnb isn’t known for making many investments or acquisitions, but its newest purchase may reveal a major shift in the company’s strategy toward homesharing.
The San Francisco-based company announced this week it had acquired a French concierge services/property management company called Luckey Homes for an undisclosed sum.
France is one of Airbnb’s top markets in the world, with more than 500,000 listings and a total of 13 million guests and hosts. Paris is Airbnb’s No. 1 destination in the world, but also one where the company is facing regulatory battles with the city.
Luckey Homes, founded in 2015, helps short-term rental hosts with managing their listings, handling guest arrivals and departures, providing cleaning services, and offering customer assistance in 20 different cities in France, but the company also has intentions of expanding globally. Since its founding, Luckey Homes has raised approximately $3.2 million (€2.8 million) in funding from Paris-based real estate developer, Nexity, and venture capital firm Newfund. Airbnb has reportedly purchased Nexity and Newfund’s shares in Luckey Homes.
In a press statement, Airbnb country manager for France, Emmanuel Marill, said, “We are delighted to welcome the Luckey team to the Airbnb family. Luckey Homes not only shares our very high standards for hospitality, but also has developed an innovative and highly scalable approach that can help more people become hosts. We look forward to building new and better services that will make hosting on Airbnb even easier.”
Luckey Homes CEO Aurélien Malfait added, “We are excited to join the Airbnb family as it is a unique opportunity to develop and scale our product together with the teams and community of the leading platform in the short-term rental industry. Luckey’s unique model and technology will help scale host management services benefiting other hospitality players and the whole Airbnb host community.”
As part of the acquisition, Luckey Homes employees will become employees of Airbnb and the company is expected to continue operating as its own business unit within Airbnb.
What Does This Acquisition Mean for Airbnb?
If Airbnb’s purchase of Luckey Homes is primarily driven by a desire to acquire Luckey Homes’ technology — the platform that it uses for managing properties and providing services — it would fall in line with previous investments that Airbnb has made.
However, if Airbnb is acquiring Luckey Homes primarily because it is a property management company, that could signal a major shift in the company’s approach toward private accommodations. And it would raise questions as to why Airbnb would want to buy a company like Luckey Homes as opposed to partnering with it, similar to how Marriott is currently partnering with property management company Hostmaker, or how AccorHotels’ Onefinestay unit has partnered with Properly, a vacation rental cleaning and operations management provider.
Until now, Airbnb has largely acted as more of a platform by which professional property management companies and managers can market and distribute their listings. It’s a highly fragmented industry, and one that Airbnb has attempted to attract more and more by devising new tools and partnerships that make it easier for those professional hosts and companies to do business on Airbnb.
However, buying a concierge services provider/property management company like Luckey Homes suggests that, perhaps, Airbnb is considering a role that extends the company beyond simply being a marketplace, and more of an active provider of private accommodations.
What Luckey Homes provides also aligns with the types of services Airbnb aims to offer with its Airbnb Plus category of verified accommodations, which, in turn, fortifies the company’s strategy of taking private accommodations into the mainstream. Airbnb Plus listings are not yet available in France. At the moment, Airbnb has more than 2,000 home listings that qualify as Plus; the company hoped to have a total of 75,000 by the end of 2018.
According to an article published in Les Echos, Luckey Homes will “continue to work with other major rental platforms” such as Airbnb, Booking, HomeAway, and others, meaning that its inventory will not be exclusive to Airbnb. However, it’s assumed that the acquisition will also bring more hosts onto the Airbnb platform and grow its network throughout France.
Photo credit: Airbnb has acquired French concierge services provider/property management company Luckey Homes for an undisclosed sum. Luckey Homes