Max Aniort, a finance professional based in Paris, and a buddy leased a costly crashpad in Barcelona, and their holiday was nearly wrecked by its faults. “The apartment was much worse than we expected—it wasn’t very clean, the air conditioner didn’t work, and there was no hot water in either of the bathrooms,” Aniort recalls. Rather than moaning in silence, he channeled his rage into something more constructive, eventually quitting his profession to co-found Le Collectionist, an exciting travel firm. Think of it as the Airbnb for the 1%.
However, the startup’s uniqueness isn’t exclusively due to its Frenchized moniker. Aniort’s two-year-old company aspires to be the ultimate luxury travel platform, claiming to be able to avoid the flaws of more well-known competitors by putting nothing to chance. “The aim was to instill some trust in this industry, to make leasing a private residence as safe as buying a hotel room,” explains Aniort, who is based in France. His crew individually inspects each house before adding it to the portfolio, which is no minor achievement since the company’s portfolio includes mansions owned by Leonardo DiCaprio and Richard Branson.
You won’t have to be concerned about the cleanliness of the linens and towels, either: Daily housekeeping is also offered, or “hotelized services,” as Aniort refers to them. Every apartment has a local concierge who is available at any time for troubleshooting or just booking an approved babysitter. Because the Greek islands, the Côte d’Azur, and the French Alps account for 70% of Le Collectionist’s business, full-time personnel are stationed there; otherwise, he relies on respected ground operators to fulfill the concierge position.
Working with potential tenants is also a hands-on experience for the Le Collectionist staff. “We’re like a personal assistant for your vacation,” he jokes. “Instead of scrolling through 20 pages of Airbnb listings to find your ideal home, we’ll set up a quick call, maybe 5 minutes or so, to assist you in finding the correct place.” If your children are younger for example, we might note that a favorite restaurant is perched on the cliff’s edge.” It’s a sensible strategy, because he thinks that approximately 40% of his business now comes from repeat customers, largely young couples in their 30s and 40s with children. Currently, more than three-quarters of them are European, while Americans are becoming increasingly important clientele, particularly in the Côte d’Azur.
Aniort is extending his portfolio of properties at the same time that he is expanding his customer base; in five years, he wants Le Collectionist’s network of full-time concierges to cover 200 cities. Each month, the agency receives 100-150 entries from homes all around the world, of which he will likely approve only 20%. However, Le Collectionist does not require exclusivity. “If you obtain something as an exclusive, you feel obligated to recommend it—after all, the owner’s livelihood is sometimes dependent on the money.” “All we want to do is find the perfect home for the perfect request.” However, there is an incentive for business owners to collaborate with him: Le Collectionist often takes a considerably smaller cut from any rentals than traditional agencies, similar to new rideshare business Juno, which piggybacks on Uber’s finest drivers by paying them a preferential commission. Some of his favorite places to stay are in Provence, and you should definitely check out those Provence villas.