Airbnb spawns cottage industry of service brands
Everyone’s a platform these days, even Airbnb.
The fast-growing housing rental service has spawned a cottage industry of service startups for everything from property management to key safes.
For instance, there’s Guesty, a property management company, and KeyCafe, a key-exchange company based in Vancouver that turns nearby cafes into key-storage location. Proprly, a New York-based Airbnb management service, will provide fluffy linens, chocolates on the pillow or cleaning services. Feastly and EatWith both connect with diners nearby for home-cooked meals.
The Airbnb startups all hope to draft off the success of Airbnb, which recently closed a $475 million round of funding that valued it at $10 billion. Yet like all platforms, there are potential downsides for the guppies: What happens if Airbnb decides the services these upstarts offer are a “core service” that Airbnb should provide?
Google, Facebook and Twitter are both cautionary tales. Google’s algorithm changes have crushed companies built to siphon traffic from the search engine. Facebook has pulled the rug from under services like Socialcam that it felt were negatively impacting the user experience. And Twitter cut off ecosystem companies that were providing client services, like Tweetie and mobile Tweetdeck. The lesson is clear: What platforms give, platforms can easily take away.
To that end, Guesty wants to expand beyond Airbnb. Amiad Soto, co-founder of Guesty, declined to share details but said the company wants to talk to small hotels, bed and breakfasts, and hostels — anybody that needs property-management or concierge services “in the cloud.”
Jason Crabb is the founder of KeyCafe. Hosts can grant access to keys remotely, via their phones. A fob tracks the keys as they’re checked in and checked out. Crabb said Airbnb is aware of the company and is supportive because it solves a common problem. KeyCafe is doing about 1,000 exchanges per month. “Airbnb is a first case,” said Crabb. “We have other markets we are tapping into like real-estate agents.”
Airbnb declined to comment but has already discussed “alternate plans” for key exchanges, airport transfers and cleaning.
Randy Engler, the founder of Proprly, knows firsthand the “marketplace effect,” as he calls it. In the early 2000s, Engler worked at Half.com, a fixed-price marketplace that sought to combine what eBay and Amazon did that was later acquired and shut down by eBay. “From my experience, marketplaces and companies in the ecosystem will always do a better job of plugging in the holes than the company itself,” said Engler. “Our services work as viably for traditional vacation-rental markets as well, so we see this as much bigger than Airbnb.”
Next month, Engler will announce a partnership with Uber that will let hosts hand out promo codes to guests when they arrive from the airport. The company has been growing by an average of 30 percent per month since it began last year, he said, and plans a San Francisco launch at the end of the summer.
The diversification strategies should help the startups in case Airbnb begins to throw its weight around. After all, nobody wants to be the next Socialcam.
With advertising in flux, Twitter is outsourcing ad monetization to ad tech
Since May 13, Twitter has been selling ad inventory through the mobile advertising marketplace Inmobi.
Marketing Briefing: As Pride approaches, marketers should be ‘truly invested’ as marketing backlash continues
Marketers and agency execs say that this current moment will likely make clear the brands that are truly committed to supporting the LGBTQIA+ community and those that had simply made Pride an annual marketing moment.
Why Airbnb’s global head of marketing says in-housing agency critique is a fallacy
As the in-housing agency trend continues, Digiday talks to Airbnb about its strategy.
SponsoredHow enterprise-grade CDPs are enhancing data processes and improving customer experiences
Produced in partnership with Marketecture The following article highlights an interview between Martin Kihn, Salesforce’s senior vice president of Marketing Cloud, and Ari Paparo, founder and CEO of Marketecture Media. Register to watch more of the discussion and learn how brands are making the most of enterprise-grade CDP technologies. As brands expand across channels and […]
Two years in, Bose’s first CMO outlines his plan for the brand
It took a minute, but Bose is enjoying the benefits of having a CMO for the first time.
As America returns to the office, Xerox returns to advertising
As the next generation enters the workforce, Xerox tailors its ad strategy to them.