(From left to right: David Atkins, CFO, Andrew Paterson, Thomas Archer, Gonçalo Ribeiro, Michael Allen, William Parry, Davide Ravalli, Andy Allen, Chairman)
On March 15th, four leading European property management companies; The London Residents Club and BnbBuddy in the UK, Hintown in Italy and RentExperience in Portugal - announced that they had merged their combined business operations, in order to create a new company for the unified marketing, management and operations of more than 1,700 distinctive properties across 21 destinations in Europe.
The new company will operate under a new brand - ALTIDO; with a centralised head office in London, satellite offices in core locations including Lisbon, Milan, Edinburgh and Rome; and a robust strategy to scale globally.
Arrival spoke with Tom Archer, co-founder of The London Residents Club, and one of the founders of ALTIDO to find out more about the motivation behind the merger and company’s plans for the future.
1. Congratulations on the merger, and the newly formed ALTIDO hospitality brand. Tell us a little about how this merger came about? What were the main driving factors that brought the four companies together?
Well we met several times over the past few years at various conferences including the VRMA and we bonded over the fact that we all started from the ground up. All of us have found ourselves cleaning loos and ironing bedlinen at one stage and as four profitable companies who never raised any money, we certainly did our time working all hours of the day. But it mainly came out of a firm belief that we are stronger together and greater than the sum of our parts. It took us 6 months of meetings, discussions and reflection to agree to start the legal process, and then another 6 months to get everything in place to sign the deal. We have been working as a united group for a number of months, but the merger was only officially signed in early May. As a group of founders, we have got to know each other well and are now firm friends.
2. ALTIDO now manages 1,700 properties in 21 European cities, with plans to scale beyond the current locations of Italy, Portugal and the UK. Can you tell us a little more about where you see opportunity next?
Without giving away all our trade secrets we see our first expansion to some of the other major cities in Europe. We want to partner with local heroes who have a strong operational focus and structure rather than setting up operations from scratch. There is also a lot more growth to be had within our current markets so that will be a core focus this year.
3. ALTIDO has a vision of bringing a new and fresh approach to both the business of property management but also an upscaling of delivering an enhanced hospitality experience for guests. Can you tell us a little bit more about this vision and what guests can expect when they book an ALTIDO property?
A lot has changed over the past 5 years in the urban vacation industry. We've seen a certain amount of professionalisation of the industry and with that, the guests’ expectations have inevitably increased. It is a given now that any property that you stay in needs to be spotless, have a good set of toiletries, fluffy towels, sharp knives and no crumbs in the toaster.
Where we want to position ourselves is to fully understand and cater to the needs of every guest. Whether you are a business traveller who wants a 24/7 check-in process, great coffee, fast Wi-Fi and a hot shower; or whether you're a family who needs a recommended babysitter and wants to have a high chair for when they walk into the flat. We believe that by focussing on the needs of each guest, we will be able to develop a truly guest centric brand.
4. ALTIDO is very much a 'tech-enabled' hospitality brand, using technology to improve operations. Can you explain further what this means for owners and how your unique operations add value to them?
Part of the reason for coming together is that two of our partners had both invested in their own tech that helped give visibility and transparency to our owners. We will be integrating this tech across the four companies. In addition to this we will also be building out our existing tech team to build APIs and create some proprietary tech enabling estate agents and the bigger developers the transparency they need out of a partner.
In terms of operations one of the core principles that we all share is that, where possible, operations need to be done in house. For example, our housekeepers are all in house. They are our foot soldiers and ultimately the key to a successful management company. Focussing on the development and training of our housekeeping team is nothing new but executed well, I believe, separates us from the rest of our market. Our focus on operations was one of the core reasons why Marriott chose to partner with our London arm The London Residents Club.
5. What's next for ALTIDO?
Well our first step is that we've rented an 8 bed house in Clapham for over a month for all of the management team to live and work together. It's going to be 'beautiful' as Goncalo (co-founder of RentExperience) would say! We have almost finished the operational and tech integration of the four companies. After that is finished, half the team will be focussing on growth within existing markets, and the other half will be looking to other countries and cities. Watch this space!
Also if you find yourself in Clapham come round for an ALTIDO BBQ!
For more information on ALTIDO, visit www.stayaltido.com