Moscow-based Ostrovok.ru, which runs a online accommodation booking service that has become very popular among Russian speakers worldwide, has struck a partnership with US-based community-driven lodging marketplace company Airbnb.
The agreement will make it possible for users of Ostrovok.ru, which just picked up a $12 million round on top of the $25 million secured last year to support its international expansion ambitions, to book Airbnb properties through the Russian booking website.
This is Airbnb’s first integration of this kind outside of the United States and is meant to give the Silicon Valley company the opportunity to reach more users across Russia and surrounding countries.
What the deal means
For Ostrovok, the partnership brings hundreds of thousands of unique properties to its platform, including apartments and villas, to complement its current offering of selected hotels. One thing is for sure: the deal gives Ostrovok a significant boost in both size and range of accommodation options it can offer its customers.
Before the Airbnb partnership, Ostrovok served up approximately 300,000 properties worldwide, but now the Russian company claims to offer more than 900,000 accommodation options to its customers.
Airbnb, for its part, claims more than 17 million guests have used its service since the company was founded in 2008, and says the number is "growing rapidly".
Varsha Rao, Head of Global Operations at Airbnb, comments on the partnership:
We’re thrilled to partner with Ostrovok and make it even easier for customers to find and book unique accommodation including great castles, villas, private rooms and many more wonderful listings around the world.
We’re already seeing significant growth in Russia and the surrounding area and we’re looking forward to creating even more memorable experiences for people as they travel with Airbnb."
Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.
Founded in 2010, heavily-funded Ostrovok has gone through something of rough patch in recent times.
A little over a year ago, not long after raising $25 million in funding from billionaire investor Yuri Milner, Accel Partners, and former Expedia CEO Eric Blachfor among others, cut a third of its staff in an effort to streamline operations.
In May 2014, Ostrovok co-founder and president Kirill Makharinsky announced on Facebook that he was departing the company (at least in a full-time capacity).
Today, however, the Russian company claims its hotel database is one of the biggest among global online services and includes 8,000 direct contracts with hotels as well as the inventory of 27 discounters.
More Airbnb partnerships in the pipeline?
While this is the first-of-its-kind partnership with an accommodation booking site in these parts for Airbnb, the American company appears to be signing up or at least running tests with other partners across Europe (aside from the deal with Jumio from last year).
Case in point: when I recently booked a property in Barcelona through Airbnb, I was given the option to book 'unique activities' alongside my accommodation via Trip4real, a local startup that operates a marketplace for just that.
In the United States, Airbnb does this on its own, so I was interested to see they had partnered with Trip4real to help customers book activities in Spain.
When contacted (then and now), however, Trip4real says it has nothing to announce regarding any partnerships with Airbnb even though the link is clearly public.
This leads me to believe Airbnb is keen on partnering with more local partners across Europe to grow its international reach and its brand. The company recent raised a $475 million mega-round of funding and teamed up with Concur and other partners to break into the corporate travel industry.
Lest we forget, Airbnb announced in May that Europe represents half of its business, with 58% of listings located in Europe and eight company offices across the continent.
More when we learn more, but we're watching this closely.