Why BridgeStreet's onefinestay partnership matters

BridgeStreet Global Hospitality, an international provider of serviced apartments, is now a partner with onefinestay. The alternative lodging company, which was purchased by AccorHotels in April, has been described in the past as “Airbnb without the regulatory troubles,” a sobriquet that does nothing to minimize the sneers from traditional hotels as it continues to gain steam in major urban markets. 

By partnering with BridgeStreet, onefinestay will have access to the company’s corporate clients, and will offer more avenues for travelers to book luxury apartments in onefinestay’s key markets of London, New York, Paris, Los Angeles, Rome and Miami. More importantly, the partnership legitimizes yet another home-sharing company in the eyes of travelers. BridgeStreet will represent onefinestay’s collection, which will be displayed on BridgeStreet’s new website when it launches in November. The combined offerings will provide travelers with access to more than 60,000 apartments in 58 countries.

The recent partnership is no surprise to those who have followed BridgeStreet in the past; this time last year (almost to the day) BridgeStreet inked a deal with Airbnb to market itself to Airbnb’s potential selection of business travelers. It’s clear that BridgeStreet sees apartments as the new guestroom, so said Sean Worker, BridgeStreet’s global hospitality CEO in a statement: “The ‘new tribe of business travelers’ don’t want to just visit their next destination, they want to live there, even if only for a weekend.”

It’s almost exactly what Chip Conley, Airbnb’s head of hospitality, said last year when they signed the deal: “Long-term travelers want more than just access to a place to lay their head, they want to get to know their city, neighborhood bookshop, best place for coffee, live like a local, whether that means staying in a Victorian home in San Francisco or a loft in Paris.”

Lower rates, increased autonomy and fantasies of living like a local continue to drive home sharing bookings.

Industry representatives such as the American Hotel & Lodging Association have been promulgating the idea that home-sharing operators have negatively impacted hotels in major cities, with reports being released to highlight the high number of illegal “hotels” being run by operators shielded by the company. In addition, campaigns in New York and San Francisco aimed at slowing the growth of home-sharing operators look like successes from the outside, but we are seeing home-sharing companies signing more deals than there are operators being shut down.

Case in point: Australian airline Qantas is now working with Airbnb to allow frequent-flier members to earn points for dollars spent on Airbnb stays. With 11.4 million Qantas frequent-flier members, the numbers are immense, and hotel operators fear deals like this will cut into occupancy even more than before. In response, Tourism Accommodation Australia called the move a “slap in the face,” citing Airbnb’s lack of regulatory oversight regarding safety and security.

"We find it extremely concerning that an airline with a strong safety record would partner with an organization that cannot guarantee the safety of its guests," Tourism Accommodation Australia chief executive Carol Giuseppi said in a statement. "These unregulated short-term accommodation operators do not have in place the consumer safety and community amenity regulations and insurances that apply to regulated operators, nor do they pay the requisite fees and taxes.”

It’s the same argument we’ve been hearing for years now, but it’s now apparent that something about the home-sharing market is appealing to guests regardless of these concerns. Hotels fear this may become another OTA-like situation, but where they once lost power over rates here it could be a blow to occupancy. It’s telling that Accor would step into the ring with onefinestay, and the new deal with BridgeStreet only makes sense.

“It is a natural fit to introduce to BridgeStreet’s global network of travelers to our collection of homes,” Evan Frank, co-founder and CEO of onefinestay, said in a statement.