Expedia Takes On Airbnb With ApartmentJet, Pillow Acquisitions

Expedia Takes on Airbnb With Acquisitions

As Expedia seeks to take on companies such as Airbnb, the travel platform purchased Pillow and ApartmentJet. The startups let owners of apartment buildings control short-term rentals, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Pillow, in particular, allows managers and owners of apartments buildings to work with their tenants in renting their apartments on a short-term basis. ApartmentJet, by contrast, enables operators and owners to rent out units that are not occupied.

To give apartment building owners more control of short-term rentals, ApartmentJet and Pillow enable them to set restrictions. For instance, they can limit the number of nights that the apartments are rented in a given year. Both startups also give owners information about who is occupying their buildings.

Expedia Group Chief Executive Mark Okerstrom said, according to the paper, that the startups provide managers and owners of buildings with “control and transparency” when it comes to short-term rentals.

The news comes as Airbnb is adding more house listings to its HomeAway unit. In an interview, according to Bloomberg, Okerstrom said that “phase one was just getting the platform working and getting people online. Phase two is about property acquisition.”

Expedia acquired HomeAway in 2015, and has spent the last three years improving the site’s technology and boosting its online offerings. While Expedia doesn’t have a specific number of listings it wants to add over the coming years, Okerstrom did bring up the numbers his competitors have already hit. “You could look at what’s out there, and some of the other numbers that other players in the industry have mentioned. I think that’s the beginning,” he said.

Expedia’s HomeAway has 1.7 million bookable online listings, while rival Booking Holdings — formerly Priceline — and Airbnb both have around five million, according to a report in August. In addition, HomeAway currently generates about $300 million in revenue per quarter (about 10 percent of Expedia’s total), with profit at the unit doubling in the last quarter.