Vacasa, Evolve, and other startups have stormed the U.S. vacation rental market by offering tech-savvy property management services. The business model is now about to sweep Europe, too.
Vacation-rental management company GuestReady Group said on Thursday that it’s acquiring Paris-based homesharing company BnbLord in an effort to become Europe’s largest provider of services to property owners, agents, and developers.
GuestReady, headquartered in Switzerland, declined to disclose the price of the BnbLord acquisition. It recently acquired Oporto City Flats, a short-term rental operator in Portugal, and took over the management of the portfolio of We Stay In Paris. After the rollup, GuestReady manages more than 2,000 properties.
GuestReady, founded in 2016, belongs to a new wave of property managers that automate processes to wring out inefficiencies. It targets the short-term home-rental market with professional services, such as creating listings on Airbnb, Booking.com, HomeAway, and FlipKey, checking in guests and coordinating cleanings. This year, GuestReady began offering business-to-business services to property developers and agents.
“The corporatization of the alternative accommodation sector is continuing at full speed,” said Wouter Geerts, senior research analyst at Skift Research. “Marriott’s partnership with London-based Hostmaker has also shown the potential for future collaborations between hotel players and vacation-rental management companies.” Hostmaker has raised $25 million since its founding in 2014.
The opportunity is significant. Across 28 European countries, travelers spent 1.2 billion room nights in alternative accommodations in 2017, the most recent year for available data from Eurostat. That amounted to 38.7 percent of all lodging room nights, said the European Union’s statistics agency. For more context, see Skift Research’s data on vacation rental startups.
GuestReady has a long way to go to overtake larger players like Wyndham Vacation Rentals, a collection of vacation-rental brands in Europe, which Platinum Equity bought last year for $1.3 billion. It’s also far from competing with Onefinestay, a network of more than 10,000 properties that is a subsidiary of AccorHotels.
GuestReady focuses on mostly urban apartments in the UK, France, Portugal, United Arab Emirates, Malaysia, and Hong Kong. Its most substantial counterpart in the U.S. is Vacasa, whose subsidiaries manage more than 12,000 properties — mostly entire vacation homes — in the U.S., Europe, Central and South America, and South Africa.
The next-gen vacation rental management companies believe their investment in technology gives them an edge in scaling. Many rural vacation rental businesses could be brought onto the same platform, gaining efficiencies — something that didn’t exist five years ago. Many owners and hosts complain that there are too many software systems to run parts of an operation that are poorly integrated, and a so-called platform tech approach might address that over time.
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Photo credit: One of the 200 Paris properties GuestReady managed prior to its acquisition of Paris-based home-sharing management company Bnblord. GuestReady