AirBnb and a host of other similar companies, may have a significant head-start in the race to capture market-share in among peer-to-peer rentals, but French startup Auctionight believes that they have something new to offer, as they prepare to unveil an auction platform for those looking for short-term housing.
Auctionight, as indicated, intends to operate as an auction platform for housing, with the property-owner setting the rental and auction period. As you would expect from a rental platform, users have the option of browsing through properties based on location, type of property (private or shared room or home/apartment), number of rooms, amenities, time-period, and so forth.
Interestingly, though, Auctionight handles the actual auction, using an algorithm to calculate the appropriate minimum price, depending on local conditions. Then, as the auction continues, the algorithm calculates a new price daily, depending on demand. The startup then takes it upon themselves to automatically select the top bids from those who submit a request, as well as manage the payments. As part of the transaction, bidders are required to provide their bank details upfront. Their bid is frozen and then, as the auction proceeds, they are provided with regular email updates. If another user exceeds the bid, the individual has the option of making a new bid (hence, the auction aspect).
Like other marketplaces, Auctionight has opted for a commission-based monetization strategy, taking 2% (on top of the rental price) from the tenant, as well as 10% of the rent paid to the property-owner.
Auctionight is self-funded for the time being. The startup has interesting plans, intending to offer temporary housing near events, such as SXSW in Austin and the Monaco Grand Prix. The service will only formally launch sometime in March, but I am told that they already have an undisclosed number of beta-testers in France, Spain, England, and the United States.