The decision to acquire Gaest is part of Airbnb’s ongoing efforts to target the business market and follows the launch of Airbnb for Work in 2016.
Airbnb, like any business keen to diversify, is constantly on the lookout for new opportunities that push the boundaries of its current platform. In its latest expansion effort, the accommodation-rental company has acquired Gaest, an online marketplace focused mainly on helping companies and workers find meeting and event spaces for short-term use. The terms of the deal have not been disclosed.
"We’re thrilled to join one of the world’s most innovative companies and become an integral part of their mission to make it easier for professionals to feel a sense of belonging at work. Our dream from day one has been to make it easier, faster, and more cost-effective to list, discover, and book unique spaces that spark creativity, motivate interaction and encourage knowledge sharing," says Anders Mogensen, Co-Founder and CEO of Gaest.com
Founded in 2015 in Aarhus, Denmark, Gaest now operates around the world, with businesses able to book spaces for interviews, meetings, workshops, team building events, and photo shoots. Just like Airbnb, hosts can easily list their spaces to quickly reach thousands of businesses and professionals.
Gaest, meanwhile, has plenty of competitors — among them Regus, Breather, ShareDesk, and HeyDesk — but with Airbnb lending its backing, the team is now on course to help create a one-stop shop that should meet many of the needs of a business traveler.
Airbnb said that Gaest will continue to operate as a stand-alone site “for the foreseeable future,” a term that suggests the situation could change further down the road.
Airbnb for Work helps companies organize business trips or company getaways, with tools including an admin dashboard offering features such as price alerts and payment groups to help keep tabs on spending for company travel. According to Airbnb data, more than 300,000 companies are now directly engaged with Airbnb for help with organizing their travel.
“We imagine a world where anyone can share their space for professional events and, in the longer term, for celebrations,” said David Holyoke, global head of Airbnb for Work, commenting on its latest acquisition.
Holyoke added: “Bringing in a leadership team with strong domain knowledge allows us to accelerate our work in this area, and more importantly gaest.com and Airbnb share a vision of helping every space owner become entrepreneurs through sharing their spaces with those who need it.”
Other business-focused efforts by Airbnb have included a trial with workspace-sharing startup WeWork that pointed business travelers in the direction of well-equipped shared workspaces. It introduced a “Business Travel Ready” search tool for its site, too, to make it easier for business travelers to find homes with — at the very minimum — a work desk and Wi-Fi, along with items you’d expect to find in a hotel room such as a hair dryer and iron. It also allows hosts to list their property as suitable for meetings or off-sites if it fulfills certain criteria.
Here´s the backstory
Gaest.com's co-founders (from left to right): Chris Sørensen, Christian Schwarz Lausten, Jonas Grau and Anders Boelskifte Mogensen
Like most startups, Gaest.com began with one of those "wouldn't it be neat if you could" moments. The "neat", in the case of Gaest.com, was a platform that made it easier to list, discover and book spaces for meetings, workshops, you name it. The genesis of the idea and who actually came up with it first is still the source of much workplace humor, but one thing's certain - it almost never came to be. Originally filed away as just another crazy idea, it was revisited years later since, as Co-Founder Anders B. Mogensen remembers, it was simply too good of an idea to park. "No matter how hard we tried to shake it, we always found ourselves coming back to it in some inexorable way," recalls Co-Founder Christian Schwarz Lausten.
With the idea unparked for good, Anders and Christian set out to find kindred spirits with the IT acumen to help them realize their vision. Enter Co-founders Jonas Grau and Chris Sørensen, two IT journeymen who'd already developed a reputation for building some of Denmark's most popular and successful platforms. "Our initial thought was that this is a really gutsy venture, but one that we couldn't resist becoming a part of," says Jonas and Chris.
Still leading the way
While many founders might leave the startup after a few years, the Gaest.com Co-Founders find themselves more involved now than ever. Today, they help make up the organization's Executive Team and continue to play a hands-on role in shaping virtually every facet of Gaest.com.
The Gaest.com team is made up of the industry's best and brightest who show up to work every day determined to revolutionize the meeting world - one meeting at a time if that's what it takes.