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Housing for Digital Nomads - Anyplace goes for them, Airbnb follows suit

Updated: Jul 22

Anyplace, is a San Francisco based start-up providing flexible housing for nomads and the millennial generation, and I am delighted to have this company in my portfolio. They make the housing rental experience as easy as booking a hotel room. Through the platform, people can move in and out whenever they want with no long-term contract. Customers don’t need to set up utilities, Wi-Fi, or get furniture. All the formalities such as the application process, screening, payments, and move-out/extend requests can be carried out online. Anyplace works with hotels, co-living spaces, and furnished apartments and are currently available across 22 countries and 70 cities. Aggressive ramp up in Asia and India will happen in Q4 of 2020.

Pic credit: anyplace.com


Millennial's, and the younger generation in general, prefer flexibility. Many services are now flexible; transportation has Uber, grocery delivery has Instacart, but housing is still not flexible. That’s why many co-living operators are currently emerging and trying to bring flexibility in the space. There is a huge opportunity for Anyplace to become the standard housing option for the next generation. Post COVID remote work is becoming much more common these days, and the nomadic lifestyle phenomena will gain popularity as the remote work movement grows. There is a massive ecosystem that is now encouraging more remote workers to adopt a nomadic lifestyle.

Pic credit: anyplace.com


On the supply side, Co-living operators are emerging all over the world, not only in the US but also in Europe and Asia. However, no global platform currently specializes in these new types of properties/experiences. COVID has completely dented the hospitality business, at least in the foreseeable future and this presents an opportunity for the company to encourage hotels and apartments to re purpose as co-living spaces and become part of the co-living movement. This trend is already evident and will gallop faster in the coming days. While every part of the hospitality industry has taken a hit extended stay hotels, usually located in suburban areas, have been the least impacted. Extended-stay hotels held a nearly 72% occupancy rate when compared to the industry average of 42% in the first 28 days of March, according to STR.

Pic credit: anyplace.com


The above could be the reason why Airbnb which traditionally focused on leisure, long stay and local announced in April, that it would be focusing on what it calls “long-term” stays of 28 days or longer. This is a complete pivot for the brand and its is too early to tell what effects the shift to long-term stays may have as this is a whole different industry altogether. The company said its decision was based on behavior it was seeing in reservations. In 2019, one in seven nights booked on the platform was for a long-term stay. Already, more than 80% of its hosts accept longer-term stays; about half of those offer a discount for stays of longer than a month. This move could however dilute Airbnb's brand positioning as this may be an over correction for the company as it attempts to be everything for everybody.

Pic credit: anyplace.com


The huge difference between Airbnb and Anyplace is the nature of the business. Airbnb is optimized for C2C and short-term stays, whereas Anyplace is optimized for B2C and long-term stays (housing). Airbnb didn’t usually accept instant bookings for stays of 30 days or more, so customers have to communicate with multiple hosts to explain the purpose of their stay and provide proof of income to secure long-term accommodation. Anyplace, on the other hand, only works with professionally managed properties and provide customers with a screening system (checking customer credit score, criminal record, eviction reports, etc. immediately online) and a real-time availability check, so for the long-term stays, their booking process is much easier. However Airbnb is still a household name, with a robust platform and marketing team. The brand could leverage its expansive Experiences business and include it in any rental agreement, offering bonuses like a guided city tour for new renters or a cooking class featuring local cuisine.

Led by the young and talented Co-Founder and CEO Steve Satoru Naito, Anyplace is all set to disrupt and define the flexible home rental market as digital nomads rise globally as a prime addressable market segment. The company is backed by A list Silicon Valley investors including Jason’s Syndicate, Funders Club, Up Honest Capital, East Ventures, GA Technologies, Keisuke Honda and Hiroshi Tomishima.


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