Greek Hospitality Start-Up Making Global Headlines

Date: 19.09.2018 / By Marilyn Montalto / / Comments (0)
A Blueground property in New York. Photos: Supplied..

An Athens based startup, which is starting to make headlines around the world as it expands its operations and grows its reputation, says it is also considering entering the Australian market.

In just five years, Blueground has built a network of apartments, conveniently located, fully furnished, and designed in a modern way, in five major cities around the globe, and is now examining plans to expand further, including properties in Melbourne and Sydney.

Having grown from Athens to now include offices in New York, San Francisco, Dubai and Istanbul, and with plans to set up in Los Angeles, Washington DC, Boston and Chicago, CEO and co-founder of Blueground Alexandros Chatzieleftheriou, thanks his personal experience as a Management Consultant for identifying the niche market of requiring mid to long term stay in affordable, spacious accommodation.

“For more than five years, I stayed in various hotels in Europe, Africa and Asia for stretches of one to 12 months at a time. I came to realise that hotels weren’t an optimal choice, not for the company I was working for and not for me. The cost was too high, rooms were small and privacy was rather limited,” Mr Chatzieleftheriou told Neos Kosmos.

In a hospitality tech market dominated by Airbnb, how does a new entry like Blueground differentiate itself?

The most important difference, as Chatzieleftheriou confirms, is that Airbnb are owners advertising their own property in a marketplace where the majority can be amateur hosts. Blueground on the other hand, carefully select high quality properties and a specialised design team upgrades these properties into best-in-class rentals.

“We are responsible for the guest experience. For example, all of our tenants have access to a dedicated support team, through a mobile application. They can communicate with us instantly, request services such as maintenance, cleaning and laundry, and find useful information about the property and neighbourhood,” he says.

Rather than focus on tourists looking for a short-term stay, Blueground’s target market is professionals seeking mid-term living accommodations who might otherwise live in corporate housing. And judging by its growth, the company has certainly exploited the demand for such properties.

Which is why it is to no surprise that Blueground now employees a staff of over 150 people, 80 of which work in the company’s Athens headquarters. Mr Chatzieleftheriou confirms that the local talent in Athens is the major factor in setting up the base in the Greek capital and therefore all the company’s central departments such as Engineering, Finance, Customer Experience, Online Sales, and Marketing are located there.

“Greece is beginning to be recognised as a source of IT talent in Europe. There is an abundance of well-educated professionals that speak one to three languages on top of Greek. We really believe in the Greek talent and we will continue to support them,” he explains.

Although talent in Greece might be easy to find and attract, there are other challenges Blueground faces daily while operating a global company out of Greece, including political uncertainty, the complicated tax system, the inefficiency of the state and the continuous regulatory changes. According to Mr Chatzieleftheriou Blueground has managed to face these problems and achieve steady growth, thanks to the company’s innovative, global business model. According to him, Blueground solves two main problems that exist regardless of the economic environment. First it helps tenants by providing much needed high-quality furnished apartments, that meet the needs of the modern renters. It also assists landlords by helping them find and vett guests who pay on time and take care of the property.

Chatzieleftheriou said that this tested formula, which is working so well in Greece, the US, Turkey and the UAE, can also be applied to other countries, including Australia.

“Our aim is to be present in over 50 cities and 50,000 locations by 2023. Of course, Australia is among the areas we are examining.”

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