Greece-Based Hospitality Tech Company Blueground Continues Rapid Expansion
For years, as part of his work requirements as a consultant, Alexandros Chatzieleftheriou lived in hotels around the world.
He has stayed in hotels for as short as a month to more than a year. And his travel has taken him to hotels in Africa, Europe, Asia and the United States.
"I've spent approximately five years staying at hotels," Chatzieleftheriou told Bisnow. "For me it was not very sustainable and not a pleasant experience. Even though they provided great service, the room sizes were very small, service was lacking at times. I thought [living like this] wasn't sustainable for people."
There was a gap in the process that needed a consistent approach for business travelers, he said.
In 2013, Chatzieleftheriou filled that gap and co-founded blueground, an Athens, Greece-based hospitality tech company aimed at business travelers looking for mid-term (30 days or more) and long-term furnished apartment housing. Chatzieleftheriou serves as the CEO. The company employs 135 people around the world.
The company has grown over the years to nine locations with 1,500 units worldwide, including Athens, Dubai, Istanbul, Boston, Chicago, Washington, D.C., San Francisco, New York and most recently opened a new location in Los Angeles. Blueground has raised $20M in equity financing, he said.
The company partners with landlords and property owners. Blueground renovates the units, fully furnishes them and adds amenities that include free WiFi, cleaning and maintenance. Bookings can be made through the company's app and it also allows users moving out of one blueground unit to move into a new neighborhood or city blueground is in.
Chatzieleftheriou said blueground is targeting young professionals and corporate business travelers looking for nicer mid-term or long-term housing.
The company's growth mirrors the rise in demand for corporate housing. According to a 2017 report by the Corporate Housing Providers Association, a corporate housing industry association, corporate housing revenue in the U.S. in 2016 reached $3.2B, a 10.2% increase from the previous year. Unit supply has grown for four straight years from 2012 to 2016.
Chatzieleftheriou said his company has also noticed another trend — millennials are gobbling up a lot of blueground's units. Millennials, he said, don't want to be attached to items or furniture and want to be fully serviced. This is not just for business travel but a way of life for some.
"Some people, they want to be able to enjoy an active lifestyle and moving around to different apartments," he said. "That's another trend working in our favor."
An average one-bedroom fully furnished apartment with utilities goes for about $3K a month. The average occupant stays for about six months.
Overall, the company plans to lease 20,000 properties throughout the U.S. within the next five years.
Chatzieleftheriou said his goal is for the company to have 50,000 units in five years in 50 cities around the world.
“We want to provide a fully seamless experience,” he said. "We try to make it easy: just bring their clothes and move in."