Hyatt “breaks ranks” and invests in sharing economy rental business Onefinestay

US: Hyatt has become the first major hotel group to invest in a sharing economy vacation rental business.

US: Hyatt has become the first major hotel group to invest in a sharing economy vacation rental business.

Hyatt Hotels Corp has invested in Onefinestay, an upmarket rental company which matches homeowners looking to rent their residences in London, New York, Los Angeles and Paris with travellers. It manages a portfolio of more than 2,500 homes with a combined value of more than $5 billion.

Hyatt‘s investment was part of a $40 million round of funding that was completed in late 2014.

Onefinestay CEO Greg Marsh declined to discuss the deal but a Hyatt spokeswoman said it is “collaborating with onefinestay” and that it will “continue to test a variety of offerings, work with a number of companies and make investments to continue innovating the guest experience”.

Marsh describes Onefinestay as “a hybrid between an online marketplace and the sort of hospitality service you might get behind the scenes of a luxury hotel.”

Sean Hennessey, CEO of Lodging Advisors LLC, a New York-based hotel consulting firm, said: “It was only a matter of time before one of the hotel operators broke ranks and aligned itself with one of the home rentals firms. It’s likely that other hotel companies will follow.”

Editor’s Comment

Many of the major hotel groups have taken a strange stance regarding the whirlwind emergence of the sharing economy vacation rental companies such as Airbnb, Homeaway and Onefinestay. Their attitudes have ranged from dismissive – “they are not our competitors, they are not regulated” to the slightly snobbish – “our guests are looking for something they can’t provide”. Well, all that has changed now Hyatt has had the foresight to invest in Onefinestay – the vacation rental business with the most similarity to a hotel chain. Onefinestay operates high end residential homes and provides hotel-style services to the people who rent them – new sheets and towels, a concierge and so on. It is long overdue for the hotel industry to recognise companies such as these as valid competitors, and Hyatt is unlikely to be the only operator to adopt the old maxim – if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.

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