Airbnb’s new rival, Vacasa, just raised $103m

Vacasa, a Portland-based online vacation rental company (and a sick portmanteau of the words “vacation” and “casa”), just closed a $103.5m Series B led by a group of private equity firms looking to take Airbnb to the mat.

So what’s the difference between the two?

While Airbnb runs off of a peer-to-peer model that relies on homeowners to fix up their properties for guests, Vacasa takes a more hands-on approach — billing itself as a “full-service property management company.”

Aimed at wealthier travelers, Vacasa has on-premise employees who work as housekeepers, reservations agents, local managers, etc. — making Vacasa homes feel more like a hotel room than a stranger’s room you’re hiding out in.

And their model is catching on with other companies

The high-end rental business is a key growth area for the travel industry with companies seeking to boost profits by targeting wealthy tourists.

In February, Airbnb purchased Luxury Retreats, which offers tools similar to Vacasa for managing vacation properties remotely.

Meanwhile, Vacasa has grown quietly across the US and abroad, its smaller size helping it avoid the regulatory scrutiny that Airbnb seems to attract.

In other words, the fight for online vacation rental domination has begun.

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