How Airbnb is spurring innovation in luxury travel
04/01/2017|6:56:43 PM|Time

There is now a cottage industry of short-term-rental start-ups, whether started before or after Airbnb. The category includes dozens of other companies: Roomorama, Love Home Swap, Stay Al­fred, and many more. Some were scooped up by the travel industry’s giants—TripAdvisor’s FlipKey and HouseTrip, Priceline’s — and in the fall of 2015, Expedia paid USD 3.9 billion for industry veteran HomeAway and its 1.2 million–plus properties listed.

Some new entrants are starting to offer their own twist on the concept, evidence of the kind of segmentation that starts to happen when a bold new idea becomes more established. Onefinestay was the first to get significant traction. Founded in 2009 by three friends with backgrounds in tech and business, the company created its own niche in high-end, high-touch short-term rentals (it’s often described as “the posh Airbnb”). Would-be hosts have to apply to have their res­idences accepted (and need to meet certain standards, like a certain number of wineglasses on hand and a certain thickness of the mat­tress). Each of the properties in its collection is visited by the com­pany’s staff in advance of any booking and given a luxury makeover: it’s cleaned and de-cluttered, the bed linens are replaced and appro­priately anonymized and staged with fluffy duvets and high-end bed linens, and shampoo and soap are provided.

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