United States: Vacation rental company Domio aims to become the ‘Airbnb of group travel’ after announcing a $50 million joint venture with private equity firm Upper90 to open aparthotel properties.
The New York-based company is renting out curated vacation apartments to group travellers and started out by targeting young people travelling together in groups. It now has properties in Austin, New Orleans, Nashville, San Diego, Boston and Honolulu.
Upper90, which is also based in New York, is a technology-focused private equity fund investing in emerging asset classes.
In a 500-person survey conducted this year, the company found that 38 per cent of respondents said they were most likely to book and stay in a short-term rental in 2018 when travelling with a group bigger than two.
CEO and co-founder of Domio, Jay Roberts, said: “As we grew in the industry, we took a look at the overall landscape. While Airbnb is a great company, there’s really a lack of consistency, reliability, and trust among many of the travellers who’ve stayed at Airbnbs. People find cameras, there aren’t smoke detectors – there’s a lot of horror stories.”
All of Domio’s listings are owned and managed by the company to create a branded experience to ‘professionalise’ the short term rental market. The company says it will seek to differentiate itself from traditional hotels by offering spaces suited specifically for group travel at sharing-economy prices, estimated to be 10 to 25 per cent cheaper than the average hotel.
Domio also uses data analysis and machine learning to pinpoint properties to add to its short term rental portfolio, taking into account location, size and layout. Once the company leases out a property, it takes charge of inspecting and reviewing the property, updating the interior design and integrating up-to-date technology, stocking essential amenities, cleaning and providing on-call guest support and concierge services.
Domio differs from other startups that opt for revenue sharing by requiring its landlords to make one single payment each month rather than pay for each piece of software or addition to the properties.