Lifestyle

From Ibiza to Istanbul, HouseTrip offers refuge for European travelers

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HouseTrip, a British clone of Airbnb, has raised $40 million in its third round of funding.

Like its American doppelganger, HouseTrip is community-driven marketplace for accommodation. Residents post their property on the site as available to rent, along with a profile, price, and reviews. Travelers looking for a place to stay search through the listings and book a rental for their trip. This model benefits the host, who can generate extra income, as well as the visitors who stand to gain more meaningful, personal travel experiences.

“We empower thousands of property owners to make money from their homes and investment properties,” said founder and CEO Arnaud Bertrand. “In Europe, this is of great importance as the economic crisis has impacted so many lives across the Continent. HouseTrip also empowers guests to travel to destinations where they can fully immerse themselves in local culture by literally living like a local, and we reduce the cost of their experience by providing better value.”

Bertrand started HouseTrip after he struggled to book a rental for a getaway to Scotland with his wife. The available options for finding and booking accommodation were inconvenient and outdated, consisting mostly of classified ads and requiring phone calls and wire transfers.

Since then, HouseTrip has built up a selection of 130,000 properties in 15,000 destinations, and the company expects by the end of the year to have helped book more than 3 million nights’ sleep. It has focused its efforts on Europe, and has options ranging from Italian villas to New York apartments.

The investor team also hews closely to European roots. This Series C was led by Accel Partners, with previous investors Balderton Capital and Index Ventures also participating.

“We are a European centric business,” Bertrand said. “Europe is the largest market globally for vacation rentals, and 60% of Europeans travel within Europe. This is the first time Europe’s three largest VCs have come together to back a European player.”

While many Airbnb user list their primary residence, Housetrip targets properties that are consistently available to rent. The team also offers management and calendar tools for the hosts, so they can keep track of their bookings and offer a reliable alternative to visitors.

“Booking entire properties requires the same traveller to scour multiple niche listings sites or to call travel agents, real estate companies and even homeowners directly,” said Accel Partner partner Sonali De Rycker. “Often the same guests have to send a substantial deposit before they even have sight of the property with little guarantee or recourse if the property is not as advertised. The better the service HouseTrip offers to guest, the more likely they are to make a booking which in turn means better business for the hosts – these network effects only reinforce themselves as the company scales.”

This investment will be used to fuel the company’s international expansion. This brings its total funding to almost $60 million, following a $17 million Series B last November.

HouseTrip is based in London, with offices in Switzerland and Portugal.