While there are plenty of gay-friendly international cities for LGBTQ travelers, lodging websites like Airbnb don’t disclose much info about hosts or guarantee safety.
That’s especially the case in countries where homosexuality is either taboo or illegal.
This was a problem Matthieu Jost wanted to fix. After he and his partner had bad experiences while they were traveling abroad, Jost went on to launch MisterB&B — an Airbnb competitor that lists accommodations for the LGBTQ community. From 2014, the company grew to more than 130,000 hosts in 135 different countries.
Today, it’s touted as the largest gay-friendly hotelier service in the world.
We spoke with Jost about MisterB&B, the capital it raised, short-term rental laws and the direction he wants to take the company.
I read that MisterB&B allows gay men to generate income. What about women? Or those who are non-binary?
Historically, MisterB&B was primarily focused on the gay male community. Gay men travel often and have specific travel patterns and needs. At the same time, we have always been open to the entire LGBTQA community. As it turned out, some of our best hosts can be straight identified women such as Mia in New York. Today our sign-up process reflects our efforts to be as inclusive as possible allowing people to register as men, women, or non-binary.
Why not pitch MisterB&B to Airbnb? Is there a chance of partnering with them?
The success of MisterB&B is partly due to the fact that we are a gay-operated company for gay people, which creates trust and loyalty from our users. Our business is mostly done with private-room listings, where guests and hosts can connect while traveling. It’s basically easier for gay travelers to get insights about the city they’re visiting from a gay host.
Helping people make a personal connection, not only with the local culture but with the local people, is how we give back to the global gay community. Our unique value proposition is so strong that we bring new exclusive hosts to the sharing economy. We think that life is about connections and helping create a more welcoming world.
Who’s backing MisterB&B?
The company was initially created in France. After being unable to raise there because we were serving the gay market, we moved the company to the Silicon Valley, where we managed to find funding. We had the unique opportunity to be accelerated in one of the world class startup incubators, 500 StartUps. We are now backed by business angels (like the founder of Grindr) as well as American, Asian and European venture capitalists (VCs), such as Ventech and Project A. We raised in total $13.5 million.
Describe the business now and where it looks to go from here?
MisterB&B is the largest gay hotelier in the world with 210,000 hosts over 135 countries, operating on three continents. Our goal is to become the world’s largest travel platform for the LGBTQ community. The LGBTQ segment is one of the most active segments in the travel industry. As part of our plan to continue to verticalize this market, we plan to distribute LGBTQ-friendly curated hotels on our platform in the upcoming months. We’re also excited about helping friends and family members of LGBTQ folks keep their loved ones safe as they travel, with the new launch of our MisterB&B gift card.
Short-term rental laws here in N.Y.C. are strict toward Airbnb. Have you come across any similar risk abroad?
Like any other short-term rental company, we face increased regulations all over the world and we work very hard on complying with these regulations when it’s needed. But as our business is mostly done on private rooms, which have no direct negative effects on local rental markets, these regulations impact us less than other players.