Collaborative consumption — generally, marketplaces for buying and selling access to products and services — may bring to mind startups like TaskRabbit and Zaarly for tasks, or short-term rental service Airbnb.
But Inspirato is bringing the concept to the luxury vacation market, driving down the cost of renting Tuscan villas, Napa cottages, and even a seafaring yacht coming next July. And it’s doing well enough that it decided to raise another $15.5 million this past month from DAG Ventures and Millennium Technology Value Partners, we learned from a regulatory filing that hit this week.
This money is a rapid follow-up to a $20 million round from IVP in January, and a previous $17.5 million from Kleiner Perkins, Access Venture Partners and the Crunchfund last fall. So the company clearly thinks it is on to a big new trend, given that almost all of its $65 million in venture backing has come within the last 12 months.
Inspirato, as we’ve covered in recent months, is one part luxury travel club, like Exclusive Resorts and Quintess, and another part peer-to-peer rental like Airbnb. You pay a $15,000 one-time fee to join, then $2,500 annually. From there, you can pick and choose a wide range of luxury rentals around the world.
The Airbnb angle comes in on the rentals themselves. Traditional luxury vacation clubs go through brokers and end up paying out large parts of their gross revenues to them as a result — up to half the total cost, according to chief executive Brent Handler, who we checked in with after finding the filing. He’d know as he was the co-founder of Exclusive Resorts. Inspirato’s strategy saves guests dramatic amounts of money while still providing the luxury experience.
Handler is also careful to stress the difference between his company and mass-market rentals. Each property is operated exclusively by Inspirato for around four years; To ensure its well-heeled clients are happy with its offerings, it goes in and provides its own furniture, concierge service, linens and other amenities.
So, why all the rush of venture money? Inspirato’s approach seems to have been a hit. Handler won’t reveal hard numbers, but it’s now renting hundreds of properties and adding a new one every other day. The valuations, meanwhile, have been going up healthily as well.