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Expedia dives headfirst into short-term rentals, acquires Pillow and ApartmentJet

Two tech companies allow for more short-term rentals in multifamily properties

Expedia Group, the online travel giant that includes Hotels.com, trivago, Orbitz, Travelocity, Hotwire, and more, also has two of the biggest names in short-term rentals under its umbrella: HomeAway and VRBO.

But those companies trail the short-term rental industry’s biggest player, Airbnb. Now, Expedia wants to do something about that by working with the multifamily industry to make it easier to use units as short-term rentals.

Expedia announced this week that it is acquiring Pillow, a San Francisco-based startup that helps apartment owners work with their long-term residents to turn their occupied units into short-term rentals, and ApartmentJet, a software company that enables multifamily property owners to turn units into guest suites.

According to Expedia, the acquisitions will “help unlock urban growth opportunities that, over time, will contribute to HomeAway’s ability to add an even broader selection of accommodations to its marketplace and marketplaces across Expedia Group brands.”

The agreement with Pillow is interesting, considering that last year Airbnb and Pillow inked a deal that made Pillow the preferred partner for landlords enrolled in Airbnb’s Friendly Buildings Program, which allows landlords and tenants to share the revenue generated by home sharing.

Through Pillow, landlords and residents work together to use apartments as short-term rentals, giving both parties more information and control over the short-term rental arrangement without violating lease terms.

ApartmentJet, on the other hand, allows property owners to set up and rent out guest suites at their properties.

“Both solutions enable owners to set limitations on short-term rentals in their buildings, such as limiting the number of total rental nights per year for units or for an entire building,” Expedia said in a release. “Both make it easy for multifamily owners to know exactly who is staying in their buildings and when.”

According to Mark Okerstrom, the president and CEO of Expedia Group, Expedia views these acquisitions as “foundational” for the company.

“Demand for short-term rentals in U.S. urban destinations has been growing impressively over the past several years. In order to be able to deliver our customers what they are asking for while at the same time promoting responsible renting, Expedia Group is committed to delivering solutions that give urban building owners, managers and communities control and transparency over short-term rentals,” Okerstrom said.

“Our acquisitions of Pillow and ApartmentJet are important and foundational investments in the Expedia Group platform,” Okerstrom added. “Through the acquisition of these innovative companies, we gain technologically advanced solutions that will help us give travelers new options for great places to stay in popular destinations while benefitting residents, owners, managers and local tourism.”

Unsurprisingly, the leaders of both Pillow and ApartmentJet are thrilled to be acquired by Expedia and are looking forward to the future.

“Pillow was founded to connect the world and spread the joy of travel through short-term rentals, and I’m incredibly proud of the impact we’ve had by making that possible in a way that works for the multifamily industry,” Pillow CEO Sean Conway said.

“We are ecstatic to continue our growth among the millions of multifamily units worldwide with Expedia Group and HomeAway,” Conway continued. “Together, we will continue to collaborate with and serve owners, managers and residents by opening their doors to new opportunities.”

ApartmentJet CEO Eric Broughton shared similar sentiments.

“Our goal has always been to develop pioneering solutions for the multifamily industry, and for years, we’ve helped property owners strategically leverage the short-term rental market,” Broughton said. “We are thrilled to join forces with Expedia Group, whose resources and expertise will accelerate our ability to deliver innovative technologies and services, and we look forward to helping communities and travelers reap the full benefits of multifamily accommodations together.”

Financial terms of the acquisitions were not disclosed.

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