Ben WoodsEurope Editor
Ben is a technology journalist with a specialism in mobile devices and a geeky love of mobile spectrum issues. Ben used to be a professional Ben is a technology journalist with a specialism in mobile devices and a geeky love of mobile spectrum issues. Ben used to be a professional online poker player. You can contact him via Twitter or on Google+.
Onefinestay, the upscale apartment rental service, has just rolled out a local area guide feature that provides wannabe travelers with bundles of curated local info about the area in which they’ll be staying.
Like rival services such as Airbnb, Onefinestay offers people the chance to stay in someone’s home, rather than a hotel, while away from their own. However, unlike Airbnb, Onefinestay focuses on providing a 5* hotel service for guests (something they call an ‘unhotel’) in “beautiful, upscale homes”.
The new feature is live and available to check out now on the company’s website and offers up recommendations from apartment host members, sitting alongside editorial and photographic content.
The local area guides also offer highlights of best known features, image galleries showing the area and available homes. Initially, they’re only available for the areas in which the service operates, namely London and New York. However, the team told The Next Web that it was looking at expanding its offering in the near future, but wouldn’t spill the details just yet.
While the idea of area guides isn’t new, Appear Here announced one for its similar commercial premises offering just a few weeks ago, Onefinestay’s service is slightly different to that of its direct competitors like Airbnb.
For example, upon arrival guests are met by a Onefinestay employee and given a free iPhone to use for the duration of their stay, which can be used to check the new local area guides via Onefinestay’s recently updated iPhone app. Understandably, international calls are not included with the iPhone, but free local calls are. Guests will also find towels and toiletries more usually found in 5* hotel in the apartments waiting for them. The Onefinestay team is also always available (24/7) at the end of a phone line to cater for guests additional needs, such as an airport transfer or extra maid service.
The company said the biggest challenge (no, not missing iPhones – none have disappeared as yet and a pre-authorization security deposit is taken like in a hotel anyway) has been the logistics of running the operation due to its highly personal service.
“It dawned on us very early how complex the day-to-day logistics were going to be: imagine running an upscale hotel where every room is different, inventory is dynamic, and units are distributed across a city centre,” a spokeswoman told The Next Web.
The service isn’t just a boon for upmarket globetrotters though, Onefinestay says it offers the homeowners a “hassle-free” way to profit from their homes standing empty for short periods. They also provide a cleaning service before and after guests have stayed in their homes.
“We take care of everything from replacement of linens, cleaning and tidying to insurance, booking management, and meeting guests. Our hosts can leave for their holiday without lifting a finger, and return to find their home just as they left it – but perhaps a bit cleaner,” she said.
There’s no doubt that Airbnb is one of the best known services for staying in peoples’ apartments while abroad but Onefinestay’s service differentiates itself by focusing exclusively on providing a luxury experience. That said, given Airbnb’s wider reach of operations and the tricky sounding logistics Onefinestay has to juggle, it could be a while before its a real threat on a global stage.
Image Credit – Getty Images
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