8 min read
by Ricardo Figueiredo, Co-Founder & CEO
Published November 10, 2021
| PARTNERS | BUSINESS |
We are live in Austria! 🚀
Today marks one month since we officially started our operations in the beautiful city of Vienna.
As you already know, as soon as we open any new city, we focus ourselves on trying to partner with the most respectful and more significant short-term rental property managers, and this time it was no different!
With us, we have the couple that founded one of the first short-term rental property management companies in Austria, Appartements Ferchergasse. At the same time, they launched and managed one of the biggest apartment booking platforms in Austria, Apartment.at.
Stephanie and Christian Rank welcomed our team into their office to talk about how and when everything started, how it’s going and their plans for the future.
Welcome, and thank you for your trust!
LUGGit: Hi, Stephanie! Hello, Christian! Let me start by thanking you for the warm welcome. How are both of you, your family and your employees doing?
Stephanie and Christian: Thanks for asking. We are doing quite well. We see some recovery on the market, so guests are coming back to Vienna. Dear guests that we have now known for many years are returning. So, all in all, we are looking forward to being back on again after this long period of forced rest.
L: How did Ferchergasse and Apartment.at started? What is its story and how did you think of this business?
S&C: The story for the Appartements Ferchergasse began at the beginning of the 1990ies. Christian's parents bought the attic of Ferchergasse 19, our main building. Initially, they wanted to make flats to rent out of it, but soon they changed their plans. The result was the first four apartments of the Appartements Ferchergasse. In the following years, they successively bought flats in the same house and the near surrounding and made comfortable holiday flats out of it.
Apartment.at started in the late 1990ies when some Viennese apartment owners came up with the idea to improve networking, enhancing their marketing chances. The group grew over the years and new topics arose. One major focus from the start on was the own website, to better market the apartments and vacation rentals: www.apartment.at. The Appartements Ferchergasse were amongst the hosts from the very first minute. In 2014 we both then took over the website from the previous operator, as he retired. In 2020 we opened Apartment.at for all of Austria. This means that, from now on, hosts from all over Austria can set up their apartments and welcome guests from all over the world with us.
For us, this is more than a business, it comes from our heart. We both love being hosts and want for our guests the best possible experience in Vienna and Austria.
L: If you think back to when you started this adventure, what things have changed the most in the business compared with now?
S&C: Back then it was quite a novelty to rent apartments to tourists. The internet was not that important and many things were different. Over the years the number of apartments in Vienna grew and we became more and more professional. But one thing did not change - that we are passionate hosts.
L: It’s impossible to talk nowadays without referring to COVID-19. How did you overcome this moment and what changed in your reality?
S&C: Well, it all started with a forced rest. From one day to the other everything changed and there was stillness in the usual hustle and bustle of the city. For us it was a time that we used for ourselves to recharge, step back and look at our apartment business from a wider distance, rethinking our processes and how we work. One outcome of this process is that we are now very proud to be certified on the Appartements Ferchergasse with the European Ecolabel and the Austrian Umweltzeichen, as we went through this certification process. This also shifted our focus to more and more questioning: what footprint do we leave here on our earth and how can we, as a small business, contribute to a change.
For Apartment.at it was a time of change too as, on the one hand, we expanded to Austria and, on the other hand, tourism in Austria, as in the rest of the world, came to stillness. An interesting development but we used this very special time to rethink many many things.
L: What tools do you use daily to help you manage? Have you adopted new ones since the beginning of the pandemic? If yes, which ones and why?
S&C: Pandemic itself did not bring us new tools for managing our apartments as we constantly seek to improve our daily business and how to manage our apartments. We love to work with our Property Management System and Channel Manager, with our partners in Vienna to provide our guests with an even better and comfortable service of booking their tickets and use the many information channels provided by the Vienna Tourist Board.
L: You’re LUGGit’s first Austrian partner. What does this collaboration mean for you? And what do you expect this brings to your guests? Any feedback so far?
S&C: We are really happy to partner with LUGGit, as this solves an issue we were already thinking about for some time. Often guests leave in the morning, having their flight later on the day, or arrive early in Vienna and check-in is only possible at a later time. Until now, we provided our guests with a storage room in our house, which means the guest has to come back to the apartments. Now we can make it even more convenient for them so that they don’t have to think about their luggage anymore. And we are also happy to offer this amazing service to all the guests that book an apartment in Vienna via Apartment.at.
L: What's the next step for Appartements Ferchergasse and Apartment.at?
S&C: For the Appartments Ferchergasse we plan to dive even more into the topic of how we can contribute to our environment and be a climate-friendly business and, at the same time, improve the experience for our guests.
As Apartment.at, we want to grow so that more and more people know that there is an Austrian alternative to the otherwise huge, market dominant OTAs.
L: Thank you very much!