Airbnb rival Altovita aims for London expansion
Airbnb challenger Altovita could launch into London within the next 12 months after getting the seal of approval for its rental model approved in Eastern Europe.
The short-term vacation rental site launched in July but has reached around 200 listings in Prague, Budapest, Vienna and Warsaw, having stood out by only listing properties that have been personally verified and rated by its staff.
Co-founder Alison Ip said there are still “a hundred” announcements going on and with Marbella and Lisbon in the works, she hopes that number will increase to 500 by the first quarter of 2018.
“We’re growing fast, but I think we’re cautioning about saying that we don’t want to grow so quickly as to compromise our policy… so I think it’s more of a measured expansion.”
But in a move that will mark Altovita’s first foray into Western Europe, Ms Ip says London – where the company is headquartered – is “on our expansion plans.”
“We will be looking at coming to London as a city, potentially in the next six to 12 months.”
“The sharing economy is becoming more and more popular and yet there is no standard of quality for this industry – unlike the hotel industry, which is very well defined in a five star rating system that applies to around the world and have been for decades, “she said.
“Some of the poorer properties fell through the cracks and effectively frustrated many customers who did like this model.”
Altovita staff personally interview potential hosts and inspect properties against a standardized checklist.
Hosts then receive an “Alto” rating of 1 to 3, reflecting the quality of the amenities, location and host, with additional points awarded for thoughtful interior design and additional services such as delivery breakfast.
While short-term rental sites are also plagued with horror stories from misbehaving guests who have thrown wild parties or left homes in disrepair, Ms Ip said the company “cannot not filter everyone “but targets the marketing on families, couples and groups of friends.
“If it becomes clear that this is a group of 10 boys going to Prague for a bachelor party, we need to warn the hosts if they want to accept this kind of dynamic.”
The chief executive explained that Altovita is “sensitive” to its impact on local markets, but did not say whether that could derail the expansion to Paris or London.
“All I can say is it will be a factor in our decision making.”
Targets are now set on a first round of funding over the next 12 months, although a target amount has yet to be decided.
“Anyone who can provide us with local contacts or industrial know-how will be at the top of our lists,” Ms. Ip said.