Only Apartments Defies Airbnb In Spanish Beach Tourism

6 September 2015 – Cinco Días

Apartments wants to enter the league of leading vacation rental platforms. The Spanish company, which two months ago purchased Migoa, has come to the holiday market from the urban segment. The short term vacation rental platform, founded in 2003 by Alon Eldar and Elisabet Cristià, bought in July Professional Holidays Rental, a platform operating under the brands Migoa and Holiday Rentals.

“Migoa is a platform that offers a fantastic technological solution that tracks similar to the Google search engine, with the capacity to process a lot of information in record time and offer it to the user,” explains Eldar. The businessman is committed to professionalization of the holiday rental platforms, “until now the owners have been uploading ads from their homes to each platform, but now we tend to use technological solutions for this.”

The operation has quadrupled the number of properties offered on Only Apartments, from 30,000 accommodations before the purchase to 130,000 after. These figures are still very distant from those of larger platforms, such as Airbnb, Wimdu and Homeaway. “We have taken an important step and from now on the product integration process will be much faster,” says Eldar. His objective is to reach 300,000 lodgings in 2016, a figure that would place them on the same level as Wimdu.

In addition, the purchase will allow them to enter the holiday rental market, a sector in which up to now they had little presence. “It is infinitely greater than the urban sector,” says Eldar, noting the “enormous” capacity to incorporate this type of accommodation into their portfolio in areas like Costa Dorada, where he claims there are more beds in apartments than in hotels.

The company’s goal is to become “the leading vacation rentals platform in Spain,” because, as Eldar points out, both Airbnb and Homeaway are overflowing with urban housing.

The acquisition has also strengthened the weight of Spain in the platform, so far accounting for 15% of total supply and now rising to 40%. Also, the platform has increased its presence in the United States this year, where it now has an office in New York, in addition to the one in Miami. The Miami office is your gateway to the United States, but also to Latin America, while the New York office reinforces its position on the market, where it raised the number of available accommodation by 65% since its arrival.

In the company they assure that 2016 will be the year with the highest registered growth. For now, in the absence of accounts for the first half of the year, which have not yet been published, Only Apartments closed last year with a turnover of 3.8 million euros, compared with 4.2 million a year earlier, and a loss of 869,000 euros; in 2013 they had a profit of 268,000 euros. For its part, Migoa, up to March, had a turnover of 49,500 euros and an equity of 618,000 euros.

Only Apartments debuted on the Mercado Alternativo Bursátil (MAB) in July 2014, the first debut after the outbreak of Gowex scandal. The holiday rental platform set the starting price of its titles at 1.26 euros and a revaluation of 57.14% was recorded in the first session. Fourteen months later, their shares accumulated a revaluation of 73% and stood at 2.19 euros, despite the low turnover of its securities. “The experience has been very positive,” reveals Alon Eldar, which does not rule out the jump to the continuous market in the future, although he clarifies that “all in good time, but not just yet.”

Controversy with hoteliers

Vacation rental platforms have been in the epicenter of criticism by the hotel industry, which claimed that their growth will affect the sustainability of Spanish tourism and asked that VAT exemption for these accommodations was eliminated, equating them to the hotels. In addition, Exceltur has requested the non-neutrality of these companies, on which Eldar commented that “they can not demand a responsibility from us that they don’t demand from Booking, we are not the proprietors.”

The management of Only Apartments does not object to the holiday rental platforms being charged with the tourist tax, which exists in some communities, like Catalonia, something, they say, “already being paid by agencies specialized in apartment rentals”. However, they see difficulties in the easy implementation of it.

Original story: Cinco Días

Translation: Lee La