Airbnb's Luxury Market Plans

We’re accustomed to thinking of Airbnb as a cheap alternative to hotels, but the hospitality giant is proving it’s more than just a way to save a buck. In a plan to move further into the luxury market, Airbnb is currently in the late stages of acquiring Luxury retreats, a Montreal-based startup that specializes in luxury vacation homes and travel. 

According to TechCrunch, the potential deal for Luxury Retreats is said to be closing at a price around $200 million, rendering it Airbnb’s largest acquisition since its inception in 2008. While neither Airbnb nor Luxury Retreats has publicly confirmed the sale, Airbnb spokesman Nick Papas said in a statement, “We are always looking to provide our community with access to new and different options.”

With this deal, Airbnb harnesses the potential to move into the “luxury” vacation market and appeal to a broader demographic than it currently does. Moreover, given that Luxury Retreats is based in Canada, this deal could represent an opportunity for Airbnb to expand and enrich its Canadian presence.

As Airbnb’s largest acquisition, with over 4,000 properties across the globe, Luxury Retreats’s ethos aligns perfectly with Airbnb’s ambition to diversify its travel services, specifically in terms of targeting upper-class clientele. In November, for example, Airbnb began offering truffle tastings, mushroom hunting and guided tours provided by local experts. The company is looking to expand into other parts of the travel business and is also working on a flight-booking tool.

While Airbnb is by no means unfamiliar with luxury listings (Lady Gaga stayed at a $20 million estate in Houston for the Super Bowl) and there are plenty of castles available to book year-round; the potential acquisition would allow the company to expand its reach even further into this high-end market.

- Namrata