Published on Arabian Blue Ocean on January 11, 2018
Most of the expats arriving to UAE spend between one to three months in hotels until they move into a rented apartment, a nightmare for those ones who move with their bouncing kids, and an unpleasant situation for all travelers in general due to the long stay in a hotel room.
Cities like Dubai and New York receive a big number of corporate visitors whose operations request them to stay more than a week or two in the place, so they would prefer to have some extra privacy, load some food in the fridge instead of getting extra charge for every drink and bag of nuts, and run their laundry issues discreetly.
We all have experienced this kind of moments, so did Alexandros Chatzieleftheriou, a consultant who spent more than four years traveling. He had the “eureka” idea to solve all the hospitality inconveniences of business trips, and launch Blueground, a startup that got $6,4M in a Series A funding round from Endeavor Catalyst, Jabbar Internet Group and VentureFriends funds.
The idea behind Blueground is simple: to serve corporate travelers and expats to stay in high-end apartments on middle to long-term stays (the minimal duration is 1 month) up to twelve months, which is usually longer than the one in a hotel. The idea was a blessing for the HR departments of multinational companies with operations in different countries, as they have to arrange for their corporate travelers and deal with local agencies. Blueground came to solve some of their burden by offering 650 apartments in New York, Dubai, Athens and Istanbul, that they can browse online and book on the spot for the time required.
Blueground service simplifies and enhances guests’ experience
The service gives immediate access to all information related to their property, allowing instant messaging communication with technical support teams and locating important points of interest in their neighborhood.
The first launching in 2013 counted with forty apartments in Athens and the number is growing exponentially. Blueground got presence in four markets in four years and European cities will be their next market. Their target is cities with the same dynamics as the ones they operate in now, with huge expat population.
Amine Housni, Blueground co-founder, takes care of the operations in Dubai. “The investors liked the idea,” he says. “In the four places there is a huge potential. Our target in Dubai is to reach 500 apartments,” he explains when asked about the strategy for the Expo 2020.They currently work with150 apartments in Dubai. “September and January are months of huge influx of expats coming to Dubai,” he says. The city is their port of entrance into the UAE market, and it will make sense to expand operations to the capital too: “We have a lot of feedback from HR professionals about the need in Abu Dhabi. Dubai was our first place because it is the city with the largest expat population.”
Do you feel there is anything to regret in the Blueground path? “Not really. We learn as much as possible. Our business model is agile enough to adapt to new market changes.”
The cozy apartments (studios & 1BR in New York, studios, 1BR, 2BR, 3BR & 4BR in Athens and Istanbul, studios, 1BR & 2BR in Dubai) in attractive locations are in high demand. “We have been demonstrating significant year-to-year growth, with an average occupancy of more than 92%” says Amine. Blueground´s marketing team is very active in social media and creates a kind of inbound interest so owners contact them to get their property rented by Blueground: “We lease the properties directly from owners and we rent them to business travelers.”
Blueground has created 100 jobs and seems many more will come.
Next time your boss tells you to prepare the luggage for a business trip you may suggest where to stay. Need a second opinion?: BMW, H&M, Panasonic, Novo Nordisk, Delta Partners, Ikea, Accenture, Siemens, Coca Cola, Inditex, Samsung, Hellenic Petroleum, LG, ExxonMobil, Oracle, Fox, Upstream, and McKinsey trust them.