Airbnb expands into meeting-space rentals after snapping up Danish startup

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.

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.

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.

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 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

Gaest, meanwhile, has plenty of competitors — among them 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.

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