Airbnb has continued its march toward vacation-rental-by-owner dominance: more than 100 million guests have booked stays at homes in dozens of cities around the globe, and its more than 2.3 million listings give it a greater inventory than the world's biggest three hotel chains combined.
But one segment of the population is being left out, and a Boulder business is making serious efforts to serve them. InvitedHome caters not to the masses, but to the ultra-wealthy looking to offer and stay in high-end homes.
InvitedHome doesn't actually have any rentals in Boulder — the company focuses on "resort" locales such as Vail and Aspen. And in some of those markets, it's outperforming Airbnb. InvitedHome earned its owners $1.9 million last year in Telluride, for example, outpacing Airbnb hosts who brought in $1.4 million.
That's in part due to the pricey nature of InvitedHome's homes: An average night's stay in Telluride runs $970. But co-founder Michael Joseph has big plans to keep chipping away at Airbnb's stronghold and establish InvitedHome as the go-to service for the rich and fabulous.
We sat down with Joseph to learn more about his company's plans:
1.) How much is the typical InvitedHome rental house worth?
The homes have an average value of $2 million, but typically range between $1 million to $10 million. Some are worth up to $20 million.
2.) Why do luxury homeowners need a separate service, rather than just utilizing other offerings?
You can imagine some of the people who own these homes have some apprehension about renting them. They want to make sure the people staying in their homes are really of the caliber they are looking for. We've managed hundreds of high-end homes all over the country for a number of years (InvitedHome was founded in 2008) and we've heard feedback from our owners (that are) concerned about a piece of furniture, a piece of art, other expensive things they don't want to be damaged.
Sites like Airbnb and VRBO are really marketplaces. The only thing those companies do is offer a place where guests can book a property and homeowners can offer a property for rent. We're like the Four Seasons: We manage hospitality, housekeeping, marketing and advertising and protection of the home and everything in it through our recently launched technology platform, HomeCraft.
3.) How does HomeCraft accomplish protection of the property?
When a homeowner signs up for InvitedHome, we send a hospitality services specialist into the home. They spend hours gathering information on the inventory of that home: makes and serial numbers of appliances, if (the owners) have preference about where furniture goes, how old the roof is, how old the HVAC is, when it was last serviced. HomeCraft helps our team by automatically scheduling housekeeping inspections and ongoing maintenance.
We load all that info into the HomeCraft system. Once everything is recorded, an inspection checklist is produced for the home, with items that are standard for all InvitedHome properties as well as items that are custom to that particular home. If an owner has a nice dining room table, we'll take a photo of it upon initial inspection and then after every departure.
4.) Given all their concerns, why are people with such nice homes even looking to rent them out?
People who are successful enough to be able to afford a home like that, they don't tend to under-utilize their assets. There's significant cost to maintain a property — homeowners association fees, property taxes, general upkeep and maintenance — and they want to offset those costs. The luxury segment is the fastest-growing in the accommodations industry, and demand from homeowners is evident in our growth at this company.
5.) How many rentals does InvitedHome manage and in what destinations?
We are in 10 locations: Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Telluride, and Steamboat in Colorado; Jackson Hole, Wyo.; Santa Barbara and Lake Tahoe, Calif.; Maui, Hawaii; and the Emerald Coast of Florida.
We have 221 rental properties. We are aiming this year to just about double our inventory and launch several new destinations over the next 12 months. We've had significant growth and we're continuing that pace.
Shay Castle: 303-473-1626, firstname.lastname@example.org or twitter.com/shayshinecastle
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