From longer-term stay packages to the provision of private chefs, Globetrender speaks with onefinestay’s chief brand and marketing officer, Amanda Dyjecinski, about the future of high-end home rentals.
When was onefinestay founded and what problem was it setting out to solve?
Our founders, leaving an office in Mayfair one evening, realised that all the lights were off – every single home along the street was empty, and when they were away from town, their flats in central London sat vacant, too.
It dawned on them that there could hardly be a better way for discerning visitors to immerse themselves in the local area than by staying in the finest homes in the best neighbourhoods when the owners were away.
With this, the idea for onefinestay was born – a luxury private rental in a prime location combined with premium service for both guests and homeowners alike. The company launched officially in London in 2010.
How does it compare to Airbnb?
onefinestay is a truly curated hospitality service whereas Airbnb is a self-service platform. We invest time to personally connect with our guests and homeowners and then we anticipate their individual needs, and tailor stays with amenities, services and destination experiences.
Homeowners who wish to list their home with us go through a careful vetting process to ensure the home meets our standards of excellence. Our dedicated reservations team manage the guest journey from start to finish, just as our guests would expect when staying in a luxury hotel.
We nurture a personal relationship with our homeowners and look after each home as if it were our own. With great attention to detail, we take care of everything from professional photography, housekeeping and in-stay maintenance to managing all bookings, as well as welcoming each guest in person, and looking after guests during their stay.
In what ways is it innovative?
We were the first hospitality brand to capture a gap in the market for the rental of high-end private homes and we’ve set the standards in the luxury private rental space ever since. We are always asking ourselves “what next?” and we remain one of the only global hospitality brands that have collections of chalets, villas as well as city homes.
Many brands will specialise in one or two, however, we have all three allowing us to cater to virtually every type of stay in over 50 destinations, alongside a dedicated concierge team and personalised service as part of every stay.
We respond nimbly to consumer demand and throughout the Covid pandemic, we spotted the gap in the market for flexible, all-inclusive, longer stays between one and six months.
We quickly adapted to cater for this growing demand with our enhanced long-term rental offering. No other premium rental companies are offering the same level of service, flexibility and attractive pricing options on these types of longer stays.
How many properties do you have and in which destinations?
Our portfolio is always evolving. At present, we have 5,000 homes in over 50 destinations around the world – from villas dotted along the rugged coastline of Cabo San Lucas to mountain retreats in Jackson Hole and Aspen – each home is carefully selected by our team of experts to ensure a perfect home-from-home experience for the discerning traveller.
In 2021, we will launch 14 new destinations including Ibiza, Santorini, Costa Del Sol and Aspen, with more to launch this year.
Is onefinestay just about peer-to-peer rentals or are properties you list
part of hotel groups?
onefinestay is unique in that we are not a peer-to-peer rental company; our guests don’t need to worry about the unpredictability that comes with peer-to-peer rentals.
Guests only deal with us, therefore, all parts of their booking and stay experience are professionally managed – a guarantee of service. Our in-person vetting process also ensures that every home is up to our high standard – a guarantee of quality.
Along with our direct relationships with homeowners, we also work with local property management companies who professionally manage their villas, and, as part of Accor, we benefit from villas that are part of the group’s luxury hotel brands.
How has the company evolved since becoming acquired by Accor?
By investing in the private rental market, Accor is significantly widening the pool of potential guests who have varying needs and travelling styles. At onefinestay, we have always seen ourselves as complementary to hotels; there will be occasions when a hotel is just right for a guest and occasions when a privately serviced home is exactly what the guest is looking for.
There is an opportunity to keep high-net-worth (HNW) guests within the Accor luxury ecosystem, whatever the occasion may be. Ultimately, it’s the promise behind Accor’s lifestyle loyalty programme ALL, where onefinestay belongs to the Group’s luxury portfolio under the “Live” category.
We also benefit from Accor’s Live Limitless Loyalty scheme, meaning guests can not only earn but use their reward points when staying with onefinestay.
How has the pandemic altered what guests want from accommodation providers?
We’ve observed several changes in our guest base throughout the pandemic, all of which we’ve been tracking closely to best adapt and adjust. In 2020 we saw a 200 per cent increase in enquiries for stays of 30-plus nights compared to 2019, the demand for which is driven by changing behaviours and needs of HNW indivdiuals.
The simplicity and ease of time spent together in a private home has also spurred an increased demand for our private concierge services: private chefs, private experiences and excursions so that guests can remain in their bubble.
In light of these changing behaviours, we have adapted our business model to best suit our guests’ needs. In response to the demand for longer stays with all-inclusive pricing, we’ve launched flexible monthly rentals (stays of 30-plus days) available in London and Los Angeles, with New York due to launch this autumn.
Our new focus on longer stays features valuable savings, tailored amenities, weekly housekeeping and flexible terms, catering to the growing trend for longer stays and digital nomadism accelerated by the pandemic.
Stays are hassle-free and all-inclusive so that guests don’t need to worry about bills, wifi or local taxes. They also benefit from 24/7 local support, free bathroom amenities and a welcome hamper.
Tell us about your new longer-stay concept
We have seen an increase in our average length of stay, particularly in our Home Collection. In London, the average stay was eight days in 2019, and in 2021 this rose to 18. Similarly in Los Angeles, the average booking value (ABV) has increased 63 per cent in 2021 compared to 2019.
Our tailored approach to each stay ensures full flexibility, including early break clauses and the option to book a specific number of days, rather than commit monthly.
Most companies in the rental market do not offer this level of flexibility, either specialising in short-term stays of 30 nights or less, or long-term rentals of one year or more.
How is the company expanding in 2021/22? Why are you shifting your focus away from cities?
We take a highly selective approach to the homes we add to our portfolio. We do not aim to expand too fast or to boast the largest collection of homes, we’re about thoughtfully building a curated collection of homes and experiences that complement each other.
Following a continued uptick in demand for private and safe travel experiences, the expansion of our villa collection, beyond cities, points to our dedication to broadening our footprint across iconic lifestyle destinations.
We are currently in the middle of expansion into 14 new destinations across Europe and the US. Including launching several ski destinations across Utah and Colorado, including Aspen, Jackson Hole and Park City.
However, cities still very much remain a focus for us – Los Angeles, for example, has seen its best year ever in terms of bookings. Services such as a helicopter ride to a private island for lunch, and in-villa services such as celebration dinners have also become increasingly popular as guests still want indulgent experiences, whilst limiting contact with others.
Tell us about your new ski chalet offering
Our new chalets will offer guests access to some of the world’s most enviable ski destinations in the Rocky Mountains including Aspen, Vail, Beaver Creek and Steamboat Springs in Colorado, in addition to Jackson Hole, Wyoming and Park City, Utah.
The jewel in the crown among the US mountain destinations is Aspen where the onefinestay team will be unlocking experiences in the chalets and beyond, from snowshoeing excursions that explore the natural beauty of Aspen to arranging a “ski butler” service that brings the ski shop to guests for personal fittings or having a local chef prepare the ultimate Alpine feast in the chalet – there is something for the whole family to enjoy and experience the best that Aspen has to offer.
What are your ambitions for growth as a company?
We aim to make onefinestay the preferred luxury and ultra-luxury private rental brand globally, with an exceptional collection of curated properties in the most desirable destinations worldwide. We want to be known for exceptional quality, personalised service and for unlocking access to the best experiences in the very best locations for today’s modern traveller.