How Flat Manager in Bulgaria restructured from an Airbnb-dependent PropTech to a highly demanded solution under the corona crisis

The pandemic has an unprecedented negative impact on the economy of all countries throughout the world and tourism is one of the sectors that is suffering the most. Our team at Flat Manager cannot alter the course of these events, but we are doing everything in our power to reduce to the minimum the unrealized profits of our clients, while adhering to all measures against the spread of the virus and helping the society the best way we can. What are we doing? 

Temporary home initiative

A lot of people right now need to self-isolate – they’ve been travelling, they have a high chance of being in contact with an infected person due to their occupation or they just want to take preventive measures in case they are living with elderly relatives. Others are working from home, which is fine, even pleasant for a couple of days, but at some point home office takes a toll on productivity. The internet is full of funny videos of people on video calls who have kids running around in the background and sometimes even funnier events happening behind their backs. There are also some that are keeping up the high spirit and asking us (hopefully joking) to save their marriages and find them a home for a couple of weeks. 

We created an entirely new pricing methodology, introducing daily, weekly and monthly rates with significant discounts for stays over the recommended quarantine period of 14 days. For reservations extending a couple of months the rates are similar to the long-term rental rates, even though no brokerage commission is owned by the guests. This way we are not burdening anyone’s budget in a time of crisis, our clients generate income during a period with 0 travelers and we manage to make just enough to survive. 

We drafted the necessary contracts online and they are GDPR-compliant. The whole process from the inquiry throughout the stay is entirely online. We opened up our corporate clients only platform FlatAway.eu to everyone and turned it into a temporary home search platform. We transmitted all the info to our franchisees in Plovdiv, Varna, Burgas and Bucharest, which immediately implemented the changes – yet another proof that the franchise model in our business works really well. 

Long Term Rental Management initiative

We accelerated the launch of a product on which we’ve been working throughout December and January and which initially aimed at optimizing our team’s capacity. With LTRM we turn a residential property into a serviced apartment with concierge. We offer homeowners to take up all responsibilities related to their property, including fixes, repairs, rent collection, utility bill monitoring and apartment checks. Especially these days homeowners are probably reluctant to go out to collect rent or fix stuff at their rented properties. 

The tenants will get access to our 24/7 concierge via which they can order cleaning, laundry, a handymen and other services. They also get discounts for activities, trips, restaurants and bars. All these are services which we are already offering to guests renting short-term so there is no additional cost for us to implement these. However, they do increase the rental rate of the property since it is now considered a serviced apartment. We get a fixed fee of 50 EUR (VAT excl.) per month, which is approximately equal to the increase of the rental rate. In effect, the fee is split between the landlord and the tenant and both sides are benefiting from additional services that have real value added. 

Homeowners can sign up for LTRM regardless of whether their property is currently occupied. If it isn’t, we have partnered up with the largest real estate agencies and they will help find a tenant. During the crisis we offer discounts for prepayment (eg. If you pay upfront for 12 months, you get 1 month free) – this way we are securing revenue now when we need it the most. 

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