Airbnb rival could be set for London as growing rental site gets approval in Europe


The rental site which is giving Airbnb a run for its money could be making its way to London within the next 12 months, after getting the thumbs up in Eastern Europe.

The short-term holiday rental site Altovita, which was launched in July, has already grown to around 200 listings across Prague, Budapest, Vienna and Warsaw with a USP that means all properties have been personally inspected and given quality ratings by its staff.

Now the site has been given the stamp of approval in Eastern Europe, with co-founder Alison Ip saying there are another ‘100 or so’ listings in the pipeline, with the ambition to reach 500 by the first quarter of 2018.

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The company is headquartered in London and says that the city is ‘in our expansion plans’. Ip said: “We’ll consider coming to London as a city, potentially in the next six to 12 months.”

It will bring another rival in the short-term rental industry, which has been largely dominated by the likes of Airbnb, but Ms Ip – a former UBS investment bank director – says Altovita is trying to make up for a lack of quality assurance.

“The sharing economy is becoming increasingly popular and yet there is no standard of quality for this sector – unlike in the hotel sector, which is very well defined in a five-star rating system that applies across the world and has done so for decades,” she said.

“Some of the poorer properties have fallen through the cracks and effectively frustrated a lot of the customers who effectively loved this model.”

Altovita’s staff personally interview prospective hosts and inspect properties against a standardised checklist.

Hosts are then given an “Alto” rating of 1-3, reflecting quality of amenities, location and host, with extra points given for thoughtful interior design and extra services such as breakfast delivery.

The chief executive explained that Altovita is ‘sensitive’ to its impact on local markets, but did not say whether it could derail expansion to the likes of Paris or London.

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Zoe Monk

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