Airbnb buys vacation-home management company Luxury Retreats

The startup was in talks to pay around US$300 million (S$426.3 million) for Luxury Retreats.
The startup was in talks to pay around US$300 million (S$426.3 million) for Luxury Retreats. PHOTO: AFP

SAN FRANCISCO (BLOOMBERG) - Airbnb bought Luxury Retreats in its biggest acquisition yet as the apartment-rental platform takes steps toward becoming a full-service global travel company.

Airbnb unveiled a deal for the manager of high-end rentals and services Thursday, declining to disclose financial terms. The startup was in talks to pay around US$300 million (S$426.3 million) for Luxury Retreats, Bloomberg News reported last week.

Luxury Retreats, with more than 4,000 properties around the world, has built a concierge service that Airbnb will be able to offer to its community-driven marketplace. High-end vacation-home rentals are a key growth area for the travel industry, which seeks to make greater profit margins on properties rented to wealthy globe-trotters.

Accor, Europe's biggest hotel operator, this month said it was in negotiations to buy Travel Keys, a broker of private villas in Florida, the Caribbean and Mexico. Expedia Inc. is expanding its luxury-vacation listings business HomeAway with the online travel company citing a consumer shift away from traditional hotel bookings.

Luxury Retreats will remain based in Montreal and Chief Executive Officer Joe Poulin will join Airbnb and lead luxury homes, reporting to Brian Chesky, it said in a statement.

The purchase of Luxury Retreats is just one of many deals expected for Airbnb in 2017. The company is considering several acquisition and partnership deals, said three people with knowledge of Airbnb's plans.

Targets are in airfare aggregation, group payments and pricing tools to help homeowners make more money when listing their properties on Airbnb, said the people. Airbnb is also focused on doing deals in China and India, they said.