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09 March 2019, 10:59 | Hattie Nash
Airbnb has signed an agreement to acquire the hotel-booking service Hotel Tonight for an undisclosed sum
"Working with the incredible team at HotelTonight, we will offer guests an unparalleled last-minute travel experience that provides unique, memorable hospitality on every trip, on any schedule, at any time", CEO Brian Chesky said.
San Francisco-based Airbnb began its life as a startup back in 2008, but now employs 4,000 people and expects to hit 500 million guest arrivals by the end of 1Q19.
"Once these new guests come to Airbnb, they're returning to book with our home hosts: In fact, almost 90% of guests who first used Airbnb to book a hotel room and returned to our platform for a second trip then booked a home", said Chesky.
It's unclear exactly when the changes will take effect, although renters will be able to use HotelTonight's services right from the Airbnb app.
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Airbnb's main business is sharing of individually owned properties but it has recently allowed bookings in boutique hotels, bed and breakfasts, and other kinds of accommodations. Since its foundation, Airbnb "has gradually warmed up to at least the boutique and luxury hotel industry".
HotelTonight offers limits at inns in the Americas, Europe, and Australia.
Going forward, both the HotelTonight app and website will continue to operate, while Sam Shank, the company's co-founder and CEO, will report to Greg Greeley, Airbnb's President of Homes, and lead its boutique hotel category.
The acquisition is part of a wider branding overhaul taking place at Airbnb.
The deal, which is reported to be valued around $465 million, would be Airbnb's largest acquisition to date, according tothe New York Times. "The availability of boutique hotels - in addition to private rooms and entire homes that are instantly bookable - helps ensure authentic, high-quality stays are available on demand, especially at the last minute". Early a year ago, the online booking giant expanded beyond its core focus of home sharing by enabling boutique hotel operators to list rooms on its platform.
Although the company has struggled to stand out from the travel-booking giants, HotelTonight is profitable.
Unlike most sky-high valued tech firms, Airbnb and HotelTonight do both now appear to be profitable operations.
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