onefinestay — the London startup that lets people stay in expensive, serviced houses in cities around the world — just raised $US40 million (£25.4 million) to expand to more cities across Europe.
The platform lets people rent out upmarket homes to tourists, a bit like a posh Airbnb. The average rate is around $US600 (£382) a night, all the houses and apartments are in trendy, expensive neighbourhoods, and onefinestay provides cleaning and linen services.
But CEO Greg Marsh doesn’t see the company as just an upmarket Airbnb — in fact he doesn’t think onefinestay is even in competition with the US platform.
He told Business Insider: “What we do is so much broader and deeper than just an internet site. You wouldn’t say Selfridges is an upmarket eBay. We’re taking responsibility for the entire experience of the customer.”
Marsh sees Airbnb and onefinestay as operating in totally different parts of the market, with Airbnb eating into the lower level of the hotel market while onefinestay targets high-end consumers. He adds: “Look at the traditional luxury hotel market — there’s not one hotel in every city, there’s lots of hotels. Some are really well run, others less so.”
But what if Airbnb decides to go upmarket and offer a similar serviced-home rental programme to high end travellers? Marsh shrugs this off, saying: “We were terrified at the beginning that there would be other people who would come in and crack this but the reality is I think it’s relatively hard to do this well, consistently and at scale.
“You shouldn’t run your business looking over your shoulder and worrying about what someone else might do. What we look at is what our customers tell us. They come back in increasing volumes and they tell us they want to come back.”