A far cry from the blow up mattress: Airbnb goes high-end

Home hotel

At an architect designed property on Luxico’s books on the Mornington Peninsula guests are welcomed by a concierge who is there to hand over the keys and give a tour of the house.

There are bubbles of the French variety in the fridge as part of a welcome pack while children are catered for with bubble wands and an age-appropriate basket of toys.

There’s the option of a private chef to cook dinner and the concierge said recent guests at the house took their stay up a notch by taking helicopter rides along the Great Ocean Road.

Luxico was founded by husband and wife team Alex and Thomas Ormerod in 2013 and turned over $9 million last year with growth of 40 per cent.

A Luxico property on the Mornington Peninsula.Credit:Luxico

‘Great relationship’

Luxico co-founder Alex Ormerod said the start-up developed a “great relationship” with Airbnb over the years through handling VIP guests or event requirements.

“The partnership comes about after a couple of years of working quite closely with Airbnb as a marketing platform for Luxico, we have always had a selection of our properties on the platform,” she said.

No money has changed hands but Ormerod said Luxico now has a contractual arrangement in place with Airbnb, which includes some co-marketing as well as access to additional data.

“The deal means we have yet another point of difference in the market so we are able to offer a considerably different marketing strategy to owners of high-end homes,” she said.

Ormerod said when Airbnb acquired Luxury Retreats 18 months ago it realised the luxury market in Australia “is a little bit different” to the luxury market in other regions.

“One of the big challenges in the Australian market is a perception that people who own properties over a certain value are less used to the concept of renting their homes compared to the US or Europe,” she said. “Luxico provides an intermediary service to give those home owners the piece of mind to rent out their property.”

A Luxico property in Sydney's Bellevue Hill.

A Luxico property in Sydney’s Bellevue Hill.Credit:Luxico

Airbnb Plus

The partnership adds to Airbnb’s “Plus” range, which offers a selection of the high quality homes with hosts known for great reviews and attention to detail.

Sam McDonagh, country manager for Australia and New Zealand at Airbnb, says the Airbnb Plus program is seeing huge demand in Australia.

“Every home is visited in person for a 100+ point quality inspection to ensure guests comfort,” he says.

Ormerod says Luxico properties automatically qualify for the Airbnb Plus range whereas usually homes have to be on the platform for a certain amount of time and vetted by Airbnb.

Airbnb has been working over the years to expand its home rental marketplace into a travel platform, which includes concierge services and tours promoted as “Airbnb Experiences” for select bookings.

Overseas it has also launched “Airbnb Luxe” which focuses purely on luxury properties and is slated for launch in Australia but McDonagh  declined to comment on this category.

The move into the luxury market represents an expansion of Airbnb’s business model, which has attracted criticism for its impact on the housing market with an Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute report published last year finding one in seven rental properties throughout “high-demand” inner city and beachside suburbs in Sydney and Melbourne were commercial Airbnb listings.

The report found the platform had an impact on “availability of rental properties in high-demand inner city areas with significant tourism appeal”.

Sam McDonagh, Airbnb's country manager for Australia and New Zealand, is keen to add services that appeal to luxury travellers.

Sam McDonagh, Airbnb’s country manager for Australia and New Zealand, is keen to add services that appeal to luxury travellers. Credit:James Horan

McDonagh says Airbnb is keen to work with small hospitality businesses that excel at offering the best host and guest experiences.

“With the launch of Airbnb Plus, Luxico are the perfect partner to support this premium
offering in Australia,” he says. “With more and more Airbnb guests seeking homes that boast
personality and seamless design, the addition of Luxico’s concierge service will help attract
and meet the needs of luxury travellers on our platform.”

The reporter was a guest of Luxico. 

Follow MySmallBusiness on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.

Cara is the small business editor for The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald based in Melbourne

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