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New Travel Site Sonder Raises $10 Million Series A Funding Plans To Add New Locations

Sonder wants to create a lodging experience with all the local charm of a traditional vacation rental but none of the inconsistencies. The company manage the entire rental process, from pricing and booking to 24/7 guest support and professional cleaning. Sonder will use recently raised $10 million series A funding round for adding new locations to its existing cities: Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, Montreal, San Diego and Vancouver.

Below is our interview with Co-Founder & CEO of Sonder, Francis Davidson:

sonder-ceo-francis-davidson

Q: Francis, how would you describe Sonder in your own words?

A: Sonder envisions a future where anywhere around the world, you can unlock beautiful, unique and well-serviced places to stay for a few nights or a few months. Sonder aims to identify a neighborhood’s best apartments, houses, condos, villas and lofts and deliver exceptional service for every stay. All Sonders are live-bookable, 5-star clean and incredibly comfortable. Guest requests are responded to within minutes. Each hometel is verified and must surpass a a 237-point inspection, stocked with standard essentials and most importantly come with a customized Sonder guide containing thoughtful recommendations cherished by locals.

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Q: How did you come up with the idea for Sonder?

A: In 2014, we visited San Francisco for the first time. We were eager to see the city, but our trip got off to a shaky start.

We’d booked an apartment and we were having a hard time getting in touch with our host in the few days leading to our trip. When we arrived at the apartment with all of our luggage, no one was there. After many unreturned messages, we finally connected, and learned there was a key under the mat.

The apartment didn’t look like it was ready for visitors. There was half-eaten food in the fridge and dog hair blanketing the furniture. When Lucas’s allergies started acting up, we realized we’d have to find another place to stay.

We wound up booking a hotel room downtown, and arrived to find comfortable beds with fresh white linens. Nothing exciting, but no dog hair at least. There weren’t too many interesting restaurants in the area, so we ate at a generic Italian chain and went back to our room.

What if there was a place as reliable as a hotel, but without sacrificing the character of a home? We founded the company that would become Sonder—because you shouldn’t have to choose between great service and an authentic travel experience.

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Q: What are your key features?

A:

  1. Authentic travel experience that is the opposite of a cookie-cutter hotel. Travelers can choose the neighborhood and a unique, handsomely decorated home that meets their needs and personality.
  2. Dependable, standard services and amenities at every Sonder: when travelers check-in to their hometel, they know what to expect including comfortable bed, bathroom toiletries, kitchen essentials, fresh linens, and more.
  3. 24/7 customer support and concierge service; guest requests answered within minutes.
  4. Sonder provides guests an elevated level of safety thanks to security measures such as keypads and lock boxes that are changed after each stay. A 3-point verification process ensures Sonder guests are trusted travelers.
  5. Professionally cleaned home every time: You will never find food in the refrigerator or a living room covered in cat hair. Each hometel is expertly cleaned between check-ins.
  6. Neighborhood Guides encourage Sonder travelers to explore, eat, drink, and shop locally.
  7. Safety and security.
  8. Fast, reliable, and free Wi-Fi; 10-20 Mbps, which supports up to eight devices.

Q: You’ve recently announced a $10 million series A funding round; what are your plans?

A: Sonder is using the funds for expansion. We are adding new locations to our existing cities: Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, Montreal, San Diego and Vancouver. We will be launching Miami, New York, San Francisco and Toronto later this year. Opening new cities means hiring market specialists on the ground to manage inventory, customer care and logistics.

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Q: What kind of feedback are you getting from your users?

A: Sonder guests are raving about their experiences, just some of our positive reviews this week –

The guest gave us a 10 on their stay
Check-in Date: 9/15/2016

Why did you choose that score: Very affordable; clean; great location;
What we could have done better: we really had a wonderful time here. it was comfortable and clean. the kitchen and laundry room come in handy. i came here with my family & in-laws. it was nice to have communal areas and yet have privacy as well. i don’t really see a reason at all to spend lots of money on a hotel; i’d rather go through Sonder again.

The guest gave us a 10 on their stay
Check-in Date: 9/16/2016

Why did you choose that score: I’ve stayed in Chicago hotels, Air BnBs, Vacation rentals – everything – and this has been the best experience I’ve had. The city is expensive to stay in and I’ve found myself in less-than-stellar accommodations because of it. The apartment was clean, fairly priced, easy to get to and in a great location. Staff was kind enough to accommodate an early check in for me, and the entire check-in/out process was fantastic. I really hope Sonder opens up in more cities soon!

From Airbnb –
From Ventura, CA · September 2016

I was in town for business and I had booked this place at last minute because the previous place that I hated rented through Airbnb had issues. It was so refreshing to have a great experience with check in and to find the house so clean and cozy after the last place I had booked for several nights. Loved that I had my own private garage. Everything was so close by. If you are considering staying at this place, definitely book it, you won’t be disappointed that you did!

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