3 UPSTART START-UPS TRANSLATING THE SHARING ECONOMY IN TRAVEL
It’s been almost a decade since Airbnb hit the scene in 2008, heralding a wave of disruptive start-ups set to shake up the hospitality industry (onefinestay or Home Away, anyone?). However amid the new ‘sharing economy’ models being pioneered in its wake, a crop of new companies are borrowing traits from luxury hotels and home sharing sites to offer houses managed like five-star hotels and stocked with plush amenities and round-the-clock services, but tailored to travellers’ needs. We check in with a few lesser-known sharing economy brands pushing the boundaries of what travel can be.
Billed as Asia’s members’-only destination club and with private luxury properties around the world, Afini is taking the luxury sharing economy to Asia. Here, the USP starts before the trip with a dedicated, trained ‘lifestyle consultant’ to personalise every component of the holiday before departure, as well as an on-site concierge to execute each detail. Each trip, although tailor-made, will go ‘on record’, with the on-site staff expected to pick up on your living and travel habits through their own observations so every trip becomes more personalised. Membership is tightly controlled and by application only.
For those looking for an apartment rental but reluctant to stay in a stranger’s home, Sweet Inn is the website that fits. A blend between an apartment and a hotel, the site operates in the prime locations of Lisbon, Barcelona, Rome, Paris, Jerusalem, Brussels, and Tel Aviv. Each pad is owned by Sweet Inn and comes with hotel-like services, from fluffy towels, complimentary smart phones and Nespresso machines to the all-important 24-hour customer service and local host.
Bought by Airbnb earlier this year, Luxury Retreats tailors the service for the luxury market. With over 3700 high-end properties that span ultra-lux villas to private islands (Richard Branson’s Necker Island is part of the property portfolio), each property, like Sweet Inn, is handpicked and inspected and has hotel-like amenities, plus every guest is appointed a Personal Concierge, available 24/7.