Airbnb is working to launch a new hospitality service that will give short-term renters access to spaces in commercial buildings in New York City.
A source confirmed to Inman that Airbnb is in negotiations with RXR Realty, a commercial leasing company based in New York City, to launch the new service later this year. Though the launch has not yet been officially announced, the service would allow people to book overnight stays in RXR’s New York commercial spaces. The experience should ultimately resemble what travelers encounter when they book an overnight stay in a conventional Airbnb listing — many of which are in private homes — but with added hospitality services such as a concierge.
Politico first reported the RXR partnership and new service, with a source confirming to Inman the details of that report. According to Politico, the new service will target business travelers.
It was not immediately clear what specific types of commercial spaces this new service will launch in, or how much construction work those spaces might require in order to accommodate travelers overnight stays.
RXR Realty declined to comment to Inman Thursday. The New York City-based firm describes itself as a “500-person vertically integrated real estate operating and development company.” It claims to manage 61 commercial properties and investments.
The company is a major brokerage in the tristate area and primarily focuses on large office and event buildings, such as 75 Rockefeller Plaza. In total, the company operates 11 high-end office buildings in Midtown Manhattan, some of which are located in high profile locations such as Times Square and Fifth Avenue.
RXR Realty also has properties in downtown Manhattan, Brooklyn, Long Island City and other parts of New York. The firm operates residential properties as well, though they are mostly located in other parts of the Eastern Seaboard.
Asked about the partnership wit RXR Realty, Airbnb spokesperson Liz DeBold Fusco told Inman that her company “is always exploring partnerships as we work to build an end-to-end travel platform that combines where you stay, what you do, and how you get there, all in one place, but we have no news to share at this time.”
It was not immediately clear Thursday when the partnership would be officially announced or which RXR commercial properties would eventually be bookable for overnight stays via Airbnb’s platform.
However, the expected partnership comes after New York City officials have repeatedly moved to crack down on Airbnb, forcing the company to scramble to maintain its presence in America’s largest metro area. In February, officials issued subpoenas for more than 20,000 Airbnb listings as part of an effort to regulate the company. At the time, Mayor Bill de Blasio said “we want to make sure there’s not illegal hotels.”
In July 2018, New York’s city council also voted to restrict the company’s activities. That vote came months after a report indicated Airbnb rentals had driven up the price of rents in the city.
At the same time, Airbnb has been working to diversify its business. The company has been working with partners on co-branded apartment buildings since 2017, and in March acquired last-minute booking app HotelTonight.
Offering overnight stays in New York City commercial properties appears to play into both of those recent trends: It diversifies Airbnb’s services, while also avoiding residential property regulation and increasing pressure from officials.