When an internet company earns billions of dollars of profit each year, you can bet that numerous other companies will immediately proceed to imitate or supplement its product. That is exactly what is now happening to Airbnb.
Scarcely a week goes by that a brand-new company announces some variation on the accommodation/sharing formula pioneered by the well-known Airbnb.
Thus, the rental of apartments or spare rooms (in addition to entire homes), in more or less the same price range as Airbnb, was quickly offered by HomeAway and VRBO, following the much-publicized success of Airbnb.
And more recently, we saw the emergence of Onefinestay, which does what Airbnb does, but always with respect to expensive, high-quality accommodations that come complete with staff to watch that everything goes well. “Experience the finest homes in our favorite cities,” its website boasts. Though some of its choices cost less, a large number are $400 and $500 a night, and a great many are $600 to $800 a night—and even more (a screenshot of two of the site's Los Angeles listings is above).
Villas.com, Oasis Collections, Welcome Beyond, HouseTrip, and Inspirato are the high-end competitors to Onefinestay, with a broad selection of accommodations, some for less than Onefinestay charges.
Other apartment-sharing websites are designed for travelers with specific needs or interests, like gays (MisterBandB—“largest gay hotelier in the world” and Gay Homestays) and African Americans (Noirbnb—“a safe and welcoming platform that fully understands our experience”).
And then there are the several sites that offer free-of-charge beds or spare rooms, of which Servas is the oldest (it began in the 1940s) and CouchSurfing the newest.
This brief survey describes only a small fragment of the room-sharing industry, which grows larger with each passing day. The hotel industry now has a growing competitor from the people who rent rooms or apartments to the tourist. There is even, nowadays, an aggregator of all websites revealing shared accommodations, called Tripping.com (“You can book it all on Tripping.com”). Try it if you’re willing to spend upwards of an hour on the search.