Christopher Lawrence [left] and Jesse DePinto [right]

Frontdesk buys Zencity to grow tech-driven hospitality offering

US: Milwaukee-based short-term rental property management startup Frontdesk has announced the acquisition of Chicago-based short-term rental operator Zencity.

The purchase of Zencity represents Frontdesk’s first corporate acquisition and will provide additional high-margin hospitality inventory for Frontdesk in key business travel markets, including Chicago and Kansas City, where Frontdesk’s existing on-the-ground teams can scale quickly.

It is seen as the first acquisition of several planned by the company, feeding into Frontdesk’s strategic growth plan designed to leverage its proprietary technology and infrastructure. Financial terms of the acquisition were not disclosed.

Frontdesk previously took over the management of units left vacant by now-defunct operators WanderJaunt and Stay Alfred.

Frontdesk CEO Jesse DePinto, who stepped up to the role in September, said: “Today represents a meaningful milestone for Frontdesk. We are thrilled to welcome the talented Zencity team and their impressive portfolio of apartments to our collection.

“This acquisition allows Frontdesk to build upon our value proposition for business travel customers who can now access a larger collection of high-quality short-term rental apartments,” he added.

Jim Lockheed, investment principal at JetBlue Ventures, which invested in Frontdesk’s $13 million Series B funding round in September, said: “We continue to see incredible interest and demand for high-quality short-term rental products. We’re excited to support Frontdesk as they continue building a trusted brand and redefine STR hospitality for the modern traveller.”

In the meantime, Zencity founder and CEO, Christopher Lawrence, will join Frontdesk as its new chief strategy officer.

Lawrence said: “We have always admired Frontdesk’s dedication to delivering exceptional travel experiences while maximising profitability for property owners. We are excited to join forces and ultimately unlock more value for our customers together.”

The acquisition of Zencity’s portfolio accelerates Frontdesk’s plan to build one of the largest and fastest-growing collections of furnished apartments in North America. Apartments can be rented for anything between nights, weeks or months at a time.

Since its establishment in 2007, Frontdesk has expanded its presence into 30 US markets and welcomes more than 200,000 guests on an annual basis.

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