ABQ baby-equipment firm partners with hotel chain

By Kevin Robinson-Avila / Journal Staff Writer/Albuquerque Journal

Albuquerque’s share-based, online baby-equipment rental firm Babierge Inc. is now serving families at hotels and resorts in the U.S. and the Caribbean through a new partnership with Destination Hotels.

That puts the Babierge brand in high-end boutique resorts in 40 different markets where Destination Hotels owns properties. That’s a big deal for a local startup that only incorporated its online rental service in May of last year.

“It’s the first partnership of this kind between a baby equipment platform like ours and a hotel operator,” said  Kerri Couillard, Babierge founder and chief technology officer. “We’re hoping to build on it to start partnering with more brands.”

The partnership reflects Babierge’s rapid growth. Couillard initially started the company in Santa Fe with her husband in 2011 as a vehicle for renting their surplus baby gear in the local community. But as demand grew, Couillard  sought to expand the business into a share-based service in markets throughout the U.S. and beyond.

She participated in the 2015 cohort of Hautepreneurs, an Albuquerque-based business accelerator and networking and mentoring organization for women. In 2016, Couillard brought Fran Maier, co-founder of the online dating service Match.com, into Babierge as CEO.

Since then, the company has extended its rentals into 65 metropolitan markets in the U.S., Canada and Puerto Rico, with 84 “trusted partners” servicing those markets.

Those are independent providers who rent their own equipment through the Babierge online system, Couillard said. They manage all local customer orders, providing delivery and equipment set up and retrieval.

“Babierge takes 20 percent of the rental fees in each transaction, and we charge an insurance fee to make sure each baby-equipment sale through our platform is insured,” Couillard said. “Most of our partners are making a business out of it beyond just renting their own baby gear. They may start that way, but they acquire more equipment as demand grows and manage the service as a business.”

On average, trusted partners are earning about $600 a month, and some up to $1,000 or more.

The company was profiled in the Afar travel magazine this year, which caught the eye of Destination Hotels. The two companies negotiated terms for working together over the last two months and announced a new partnership on Thursday for Babierge to offer Destination Hotel guests baby-gear rental services during their stay, said Jamie Sabatier, CEO of Destination Hotels parent firm Two Roads Hospitality.

“Destination Hotels is continuously striving to make the vacation experience stress-free and enjoyable for our guests and that’s exactly what this partnership with Babierge is helping us accomplish,” Sabatier said in a prepared statement. “Babierge takes away the hassle of packing and transporting baby gear on vacation so that families can focus on what’s important — spending quality time with one another.”

Under the partnership, Destination Hotels will receive a “nominal” percent of rental fees, and Babierge will offer hotel guests a 10 percent discount on rentals, Couillard said.

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