The word on the street is that Sonder — the marketplace for vacation rentals and competitor to Airbnb — is close to finalizing a $200 million investment round that would value the company at $1 billion.
I first wrote about Sonder back in 2016 after I met someone from their business development team here in Toronto. I have yet to stay in a Sonder, but I’ve looked at their rentals a few times.
One of the main differences between Sonder and Airbnb is that the former head leases their rental supply. And they do this by trying to go higher up on the food chain and partner with developers and real estate operators.
In this regard, they are similar to WeWork. And it allows them to sit somewhere in between Airbnb and a conventional hotel. The supply is distributed, but the service offering is more consistent.
Of course, this arguably makes their business model slower (they have to negotiate leases) and more costly (they’re committing to fixed costs). So it becomes a question of: How valuable is that consistent service offering?
Lately when I travel, I’ve been trending more toward hotels, as opposed to Airbnb-like rentals. I like the experiences that many hotels are now focused on creating and I like knowing that if my flight arrives late (in a place like Brazil), I’ll be able to get into my room.
I guess consistency does matter.