This should come as no surprise, but over the past few months we’ve seen a lot of movement within the hospitality industry and its many sectors. With companies looking to grow and consumer demand changing, consolidation and convergence are occurring at high rates within each sector. Between Marriott recently buying Starwood, Vacasa and Natural Retreats’ quick expansion through acquiring other vacation rental companies, and Expedia’s purchase of HomeAway, the various sectors of the hospitality industry are quickly converging.
Outside of consolidation, major players have other options to grow shareholder equity. They can develop new relationships in complementary segments or take some tricks out of successful companies’ playbook.
Here are the most recent developments:
1. Airbnb & hotels
Sharing economy giant Airbnb is testing something new in Japan: being a hotel. Yes, Airbnb is declaring it a “community center,” but when the Yoshino Cedar House is fundamentally a “commercial property, staffed by locals, and tourists visiting the area pay to rent rooms,” is it really?
2. Wyndham, AccorHotels, & ChoiceHotels & vacation rentals
Wyndham, AccorHotels, and Choice Hotels are among the top hotels investing in vacation rental businesses. While primarily a hotel company, Wyndham is expanding their short-term rental management company. AccorHotels has invested in two short-term rental operators, and Choice Hotels has built out a platform for its partners to distribute their properties.
3. Hotels & corporate housing
To target millennial travelers, hotels and corporate housing companies are building brands to compete with a segment largely dominated by Airbnb. BridgeStreet has MODE, Marriott created Moxy and owns Element by Starwood, there’s Canopy by Hilton, and the list goes on and on.
4. Google & Airbnb
Earlier this year, we predicted Google’s entrance into the space as an online travel agency (OTA). With their latest investment in Airbnb and the release of the Google Trips app, Google is certainly entering the market both as an investor and connector.
5. Vacation rentals & hotel booking
Airbnb and HomeAway are moving away from traditional vacation rental booking expectations and giving customers what they want: hotel-like instant booking. The move made sense for HomeAway, as instant booking is widely preferred by travelers and cuts out potential disintermediation. Airbnb followed more recently in an effort to prevent racism by setting a goal of having one million instantly bookable listings by January 2017.
6. Timeshares & Rented.com
Timeshares are among the sectors of the hospitality industry that are continuing to converge and consolidate. Recognizing the demand for short-term rentals and the potential it has to drive new clients to timeshares, many are using Rented.com to partner with the vacation rental industry to do master leases on excess units and establish a booking partner for their timeshare owners.
7. BridgeStreet & vacation rentals
BridgeStreet corporate housing recently partnered with onefinestay to act as a distribution channel. The first of more expected partnerships, BridgeStreet and onefinestay plan to offer clients upscale, high-touch services and rentals, further blending the corporate housing sector with vacation rentals.
8. Airbnb & business travelers
Airbnb is likewise taking a big bite out of business travel by allowing employees to make bookings on coworkers’ behalf. Their emphasis on attracting business travelers will not only provide business travelers with more booking options; it’ll also make it easier for businesspeople to actually explore the cities they frequent.
9. Stay Alfred & master leases
Stay Alfred is incorporating master leases, a corporate housing technique, into the vacation rental industry to add inventory.
10. Flatbook/Sonder & master leases
After a $10 million funding round, Flatbook rebranded to Sonder. With the latest investment, the “hometel” company plans to do more master leases to quickly add properties in urban markets.