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Business

Rakuten links up with Booking.com on vacation rentals

Japanese internet giant gears up for face-off with Airbnb

TOKYO -- Japan's Rakuten is joining hands with Booking.com to promote its home-sharing business among overseas travelers as it works toward a launch in June.

The agreement will make tens of thousands of vacation rental properties listed with Rakuten subsidiary Rakuten Lifull Stay -- a joint venture with real estate website operator Lifull -- available on Booking.com's lodging reservation website, the Japanese e-commerce giant said Monday. Amsterdam-based Booking.com operates one of the world's most popular travel reservation websites.

The tie-up will not only allow Rakuten to attract customers from abroad but also gather data on their favorite properties and areas.

Rakuten Lifull will operate an Airbnb-style marketplace for vacation rentals starting in June, when the practice of renting out space in a home, known here as minpaku, becomes legal throughout Japan. It will also offer one-stop property management services for owners wishing to rent vacant rooms and homes to tourists.

Rakuten came to similar agreements with China's Tujia and Expedia subsidiary HomeAway this year. Rakuten Lifull could prove a worthy competitor of Airbnb. 

"There is more interest than we expected" from people who want to rent out their properties, said Munekatsu Ota, head of Rakuten Lifull. "We will have enough properties by opening to propel market growth."

(Nikkei)

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