Even though the past year has been challenging for all its players, the vacation rental industry is far from dead. In fact, several markets around the world are well on their way to recovery, and some businesses – especially in leisure destinations – are already hitting new records.  

In addition, the industry has received an injection of capital in the first few months of 2021 to fuel its growth. 

Instead of turning their heads away from the industry, investors seem to have a renewed interest in seeking out opportunities to invest in vacation rental businesses, whether it’s listing sites, property management startups or tech companies. 

In this blog post, we tally up some of the most interesting M&A and investment deals that went down in the vacation rental industry in the past few months. 

Before we dive into the specifics of each deal, here a few key takeaways:

  • Niche vacation rental websites attracted a lot of investor interest, with HalalBooking and HiBnb raising significant funding rounds. 
  • Despite the effects of the pandemic, tech-enabled urban property managers have retained the attention of VCs, with startups like The Guild, Bob W, Mint House and Handys bagging noteworthy amounts.
  • OTAs and property managers that offer outdoor rentals (such as camping and glamping properties) have enjoyed immense popularity among investors due to the ever-growing outdoor travel trend, with Hipcamp, Campsited, Getaway and Unyoked adding to their funds.
  • Consolidation in the industry continues both on the property management side (with Vacasa acquiring TurnKey Vacation Rentals and GuestReady rolling up another local player in Portugal) and the vacation rental technology side (with Guesty acquiring two rival software platforms). 
  • Players from around the world are starting to emerge: with Handys hailing from South Korea and Vista Rooms from India, companies based in the US and Europe aren’t the only ones to have received investment.

And now, let’s get into it:

Investment deals: Listing sites

HalalBooking

HalalBooking is a booking site for halal-friendly accommodations, mainly hotels and luxury villas. In April, the company raised $5M in a pre-series B round. They have plans to secure a further $15M in the coming months and are gearing up to go public by 2024.

HalalBooking will use the newly-secured funds to expand their business. They currently operate worldwide. Some of their most popular destinations include Italy, the UK, France, Thailand, Greece, the Maldives, Qatar and Oman.

Using the HalalBooking platform, travellers can find accommodations with ladies-only beaches, halal food and non-alcoholic drinks, family-friendly entertainment and more.

Read more about the Top Inclusive Vacation Rental Websites to Get Listed On

Hibnb

HiBnb is a Toronto-based startup that helps travellers find cannabis-friendly accommodations. At the beginning of March, the company raised CAD 500K in pre-seed funding to fuel their expansion across North America. 

So far, HiBnb has been operating in Canadian cities like Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal. Besides cannabis-friendly rentals and hotels, HiBnb also offers cannabis-friendly events, from ganja yoga classes to marijuana meditation groups. 

When searching for accommodations, guests can filter by accessories such as rolling stations, glass bongs and tabletop vaporisers.

Campsited

Campsited is a Dublin-based booking platform for finding and booking camping holidays in Europe. In March, the company raised €600K as a preamble to a €3M funding round that they plan to raise in the coming months. 

Due to the spike in the popularity of camping holidays, Campsited reports a 500% increase in revenue over the course of 2020. They’re hoping to keep up the same pace this year.

Campsited allows travellers to search for camping holidays by selecting whether they want to rent on-site or pitch their own tent or camper van. They currently offer campsites in France, Italy, Spain and Belgium, and their inventory is rapidly growing. 

Hipcamp

Hipcamp is an online marketplace for outdoor accommodations in the US. In January, the startup raised $57M in a Series C funding round, bringing its valuation to more than $300M. 

The Hipcamp website, which was launched in 2013, allows travellers to search for and book unique outdoor experiences at campgrounds, glamping sites, RV parks, ranches, vineyards, public parks and more.  

The startup plays into the growing trend of nearby stays and nature escapes, which has contributed to its growth in the past months. 

Read more about the Top Camping and Glamping Sites to Get Listed On

M&A and investment deals: Property managers

Sonder

Sonder is a San-Francisco based property management unicorn with more than 4,500 listings worldwide. According to the latest rumours, the company is set to go public through a merger with blank-cheque firm Gores Metropoulos II Inc. If the deal goes through, Sonder’s valuation could rise above $2.5B. 

Sonder has raised more than $560M in venture capital to date, making it one of the most well-funded startups in the new-age hospitality space. The company founded in 2014 offers “a better way to stay”, with upscale design apartments with hotel amenities in 30+ cities around the world. 

As of 2020, Sonder was #14 on our list of The World’s 50 Largest Property Management Companies

Bob W

Bob W is a Helsinki-based property management company that offers tech-driven apartments with hotel-like features that can be rented for short to mid-term. In April 2021, they received €6M in funding. This came in addition to the €4 million they had secured in their 2020 seed round. 

The funds will be used to develop the company’s tech platform, fuel recruitment, and further expansion into new markets in Europe.

Bob W prides itself on its unique mix of contactless solutions and curated interiors courtesy of local designers and artists. Currently, the company offers rentals in Estonia and Finland, but they are rapidly expanding into the UK and other Nordic markets. 

The Guild

The Guild is an Austin-based hospitality startup that offers upscale furnished apartments for short-term business and leisure travellers. Earlier this month, they raised  $17.1M inequity and securities options from 91 investors. 

Founded in 2016, The Guild aims to provide an experience similar to that of boutique hotels, complete with digital concierge and housekeeping services.

Currently, the company manages over 800 units across the US in cities such as Dallas, Nashville, Austin and Denver and is planning to expand to more markets in the future.

Mint House

New York-based Mint House is a highly tech-focused property management company. They provide high-end, apartment-style accommodations for business travellers in downtown neighbourhoods of US cities. 

In March, Mint House announced that they had secured $18M in investment.

The company will use the funds to improve the guest experience through secure, touchless technology and scale their operations. They will also use the money to implement innovative solutions that have been needed during the global health crisis. 

GuestReady

GuestReady is a London-based property management startup with more than 2,800 properties in multiple European markets. In March, the company acquired The Porto Concierge, the largest short-term rental property manager in Portugal. 

This new deal is part of GuestReady’s growth strategy, as the startup has been aggressively acquiring local rivals in different markets since 2017. The list of companies they’ve acquired includes London-based Easy Rental Services, Porto-based Oporto City Flats and Paris-based companies We Stay and BnbLord. 

GuestReady closed an extremely successful €2.4M equity crowdfunding campaign at the end of last year. They currently sit at position 22 on our list of The World’s Top 50 Property Managers

Unyoked

Unyoked is a startup that offers nature adventures and stays at tiny cabins in rural Australia. In March, they raised an undisclosed amount in new funding.

Founded in 2017, the company offers 30 mobile cabins made of sustainable materials and running on green energy, within a couple of hours’ drive from major Australian cities.

The startup’s concept revolves around promoting mindfulness and adventures in the wilderness as a way of disconnecting from city life and escaping work routines.  

Vacasa 

Vacasa is North America’s largest full-service property management company, with a portfolio of over 25,000 vacation rentals. In March, the news broke that Vacasa had signed an agreement to acquire TurnKey Vacation Rentals, another leading property management company in the US. 

With this acquisition, Vacasa’s inventory will grow by more than 6,000 rentals. The unification of the two companies – sitting at positions 4 and 11 of our list of The World’s Top 50 Largest Property Managers respectively – is a significant move towards consolidation in the industry. 

Both companies provide full-service rental management services, partnering with on-the-ground teams to care for guests and take care of cleaning and maintenance.

Cosi

Based in Germany, Cosi is a startup that offers spaces combining the boutique hotel experience with the comfort of a private home. In March, they raised €20M to speed up their expansion in Europe. 

Cosi is more than a property management company, developing advanced technology solutions for the real estate and rental industries. They automate the majority of their processes and use yield management, distribution and operations management solutions to save time and reduce costs. 

Cosi combines state-of-the-art technology with high standards of design to provide a seamless and completely hygienic experience for guests.

Handys

Handys is a startup based out of Seoul, South Korea and offers branded short and long-term accommodation. The company raised $1.8 million in funding earlier this year.

They are planning to spend the investment on hiring new talent as well as upgrading and enhancing their brand that they are well known for in South Korea.

Already one of the largest accommodation providers in South Korea, Handys has plans to expand to 27 locations and offer over 10,000 rooms over the next three years. 

Houst

Houst (previously known as Airsorted) is a UK-based property management company that offers professionally managed flexible lettings. Earlier this year, Houst received an undisclosed amount in investment to help set them up for success as they plan their expansion. 

Houst develops proprietary technology that allows property owners to optimise their presence on listing sites and streamlines operational tasks that are otherwise costly and time-consuming.

With 6,000+ properties spread across 12 countries, Houst is one of the largest property management companies in Europe. They currently sit at position 11 on our list of The World’s Top 50 Property Management Companies.

Getaway

Getaway is a startup offering cabin rentals, and nature escapes close to major US cities. At the beginning of February, they raised $41.7M in series C funding.

The funds will go towards Getaway’s expansion across the US, as they plan to open new markets in time for the summer. 

Currently, Getaway offers “Outposts” near 13 large cities, from New York to Los Angeles. The tiny cabins provide a chance for city-dwellers to unplug and reconnect with nature in a safe and relaxing way.

Vista Rooms

Vista Rooms is a luxury property management company based in India. They manage over 500 privately-owned luxury holiday homes in more than 50 destinations. 

In January, Vista Rooms raised $1.37M in funding to launch new locations and increase their portfolio to 1,000 units in the next couple of years. Other goals include developing their technology, strengthening their team and increasing brand awareness.

Vista Rooms homes go through a strict selection process and only the best ones make it onto the platform. They provide personalised experiences that allow travellers to discover the authenticity of India without compromising on comfort. 

Cocoonr

Cocoonr is a property management company based in Rennes, France. In January, they raised €1M in funding. They will use the funds to accelerate the company’s growth and develop their Book&Pay tools to increase bookings.

Launched in 2015, Cocoonr currently manages more than 700 rental properties across France, including urban apartments, rural villas and chalets.  

Cocoonr is #43 on our list of The World’s Top 50 Property Managers.

Carolina Retreats

Carolina Retreats is a vacation rental property management company located in North Carolina with over 300 units under management. Early in January, the company announced that they’d acquired Tranquil House Inn, a 25-room bay-view motel on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. 

This move comes as part of Carolina Retreats’s efforts to diversify their business model and add renovated beach motels and inns to their portfolio next to traditional vacation homes. 

Mike Harrington, CEO and owner of Carolina Retreats talks about the company’s strategy in a recent episode of the Secret Sauce Podcast

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M&A and investment deals: Software companies

Guesty 

Guesty is a property management system based in Tel Aviv, Israel. Earlier this week, they announced that they had raised $50M in series D funding as well as acquiring competitor Your Porter. Earlier this month, the company had also announced the acquisition of another PMS, MyVR. 

With the latest investment round, Guesty has become the highest-funded short-term rental property management system, with a total of $110M raised. The funds will be put towards growing their team, enhancing their product and developing their marketplace of third-party integrations. 

Guesty is one of Rentals United’s PMS partners and has made our list of the Top 50 Vacation Rental Software Providers.

Virdee

Virdee is a SaaS platform that offers contactless check-in and digital concierge services. Earlier this week, they announced that they raised $2M in addition to the $2M they’d received in seed funding in September 2020. 

The funds will be used to fuel Virdee’s growth in the real estate industry as they target hospitality businesses, multifamily and student housing. 

The pandemic has accelerated the adoption of digital solutions like contactless check-in in the hospitality industry. Virdee’s product responds to unprecedented demand and has a good chance of becoming a staple solution for hotels, vacation rentals and real estate providers.

NoiseAware

NoiseAware is a smart noise monitoring solution for vacation rentals. At the beginning of April, the company raised $8M in series A funding to finance their product innovation and market expansion efforts.

With this investment, NoiseAware is gearing up to expand internationally, provide an unparalleled SaaS experience and become market leaders. They’re also eyeing new verticals within hospitality, including multi-unit buildings and hotels. 

NoiseAware’s solution provides a number of benefits to property managers. By detecting excessive noise levels, property managers can prevent parties and damages to their property and preserve their relationship with neighbours. The platform also allows for the sending of automated messages to resolve potential noise issues as quickly as possible. 

FantasticStay

FantasticStay is an all-in-one vacation rental software platform that encompasses a PMS, a channel manager and other tools. In February, the company raised €1.3M in venture capital and angel investment. 

The company was founded in 2018 and is based in Sofia, Bulgaria. They offer a wide range of free and paid solutions for property managers to streamline their operations, increase bookings and boost revenue.

As a Rentals United PMS partner, FantasticStay is featured in our Top 50 Vacation Rental Software list.