It would appear that travelers these days are looking at alternatives to traditional hotels. Unorthodox accommodation services are reaping the rewards, offering tourists apartment rentals and services.
OneFineStay.com, a UK-based apartment rental or ‘un-hotel’ site, is expanding on the back of its overwhelming success in London. Don’t believe the trend? Look at the numbers: according to the company’s CEO, Greg Marsh, OneFineStay began in 2010 with six apartments available for short-term rental. Right now the company has over 600 in London alone, where visitors can stay when the owners are not there. Less than five months ago the company branched out to New York City and has since secured the use of almost 100 apartments in Manhattan and Brooklyn. Marsh also said that the company’s revenues have grown tenfold between 2011 and 2012, it is profitable and employs over 200 people. “We believe this is an idea whose time has come,” he said.
Seeking accommodation options on the internet and smartphones have moved people to look beyond the traditional hotel, Marsh said. “People are increasingly willing to be open-minded,” he said.
Prices for the apartments available, of course, depend on the apartment and its location, size, etc. but are akin to room rates at an upscale hotel, Marsh said. Visitors are met at the apartment they’ve rented by a OneFineStay representative and can be given a smartphone for use while on vacation.
This past June, the company closed a $12+ million B-round capital raise and those funds are going toward expansion—on-ground personnel like housekeeping services and staff to keep up the site. OneFineStay intends to continue strengthening its presence in New York and will break a “string” of other cities with high tourist traffic soon. Marsh would not say publicly which one.
Working on an almost identical business plan, the San Francisco-based Airbnb.com recently closed a reported $100 million third-round capital raise which values the company at over $2 billion. According to the company, it has apartments or rooms for rent in 30,169 cities and 192 countries. Since its founding in 2007, it has taken in about $220 million in funding from such sources as Sequoia Capital, Greylock Partners, Andreessen Horowitz, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, and venture-minded actor, Ashton Kutcher.