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The Weekend Neos Kosmos : 15 September 2018
GREECE 6 THE WEEKEND NEOS KOSMOS | SATURDAY 15 SEPTEMBER 2018 DIGITAL.NEOSKOSMOS.COM Greek hospitality start-up making global headlines Blueground takes the Airbnb ‘sharing economy’ model to the next level, creating a housing network for high-profile mid-term tenants in cities around the world - with an eye on the Australian market MARILYN MONTALTO An Athens based startup, which is starting to make headlines around the world as it expands its operations and grows its reputation, says it is also considering entering the Australian market. In just five years, Blueground has built a network of apartments, conveniently located, fully furnished, and designed in a modern way, in five major cities around the globe, and is now examining plans to expand further, including properties in Melbourne and Sydney. Having grown from Athens to now include offices in New York, San Francisco, Dubai and Istanbul, and with plans to set up in Los Angeles, Washington DC, Boston and Chicago, CEO and co-founder of Blueground Alexandros Chatzieleftheriou, thanks his personal experience as a Management Consultant for identifying the niche market of requiring mid to long term stay in affordable, spacious accommodation. "For more than five years, I stayed in various hotels in Europe, Africa and Asia for stretches of one to 12 months at a time. I came to realise that hotels weren't an optimal choice, not for the company I was working for and not for me. The cost was too high, rooms were small and privacy was rather limited," Mr Chatzieleftheriou told Neos Kosmos. In a hospitality tech market dominated by Airbnb, how does a new entry like Blueground differentiate itself? A Blueground propety in Dubai. The most important difference, as Chatzieleftheriou confirms, is that Airbnb are owners advertising their own property in a marketplace where the majority can be amateur Greece’s wildfire death-toll raised to 99 Greek capital and therefore all the company's central departments such as Engineering, Finance, Customer Experience, Online Sales, and Marketing are located there. CEO and co-founder of Blueground, Alexandros Chatzieleftheriou. hosts. Blueground on the other hand, carefully select high quality properties and a specialised design team upgrades these properties into best-inclass rentals. "We are responsible for the guest experience. For example, all of our tenants have access to a dedicated support team, through a mobile application. They can communicate with us instantly, request services such as maintenance, cleaning and laundry, and find useful information about the property and neighbourhood," he says. Rather than focus on tourists looking for a short-term stay, Blueground's target market is professionals seeking midterm living accommodations who might otherwise live in corporate housing. And judging by its growth, the company has certainly exploited the demand for such properties. Which is why it is to no surprise that Blueground now employees a staff of over 150 people, 80 of which work in the company's Athens headquarters. Mr Chatzieleftheriou confirms that the local talent in Athens is the major factor in setting up the base in the Regional trauma centres in Greece receive major upgrades thanks to The Hellenic Initiative Australia PHOTO: ARCHIVE It has been over a month but for the people affected by the Attica wildfires back in July, the ordeal is not over. One more hospitalised victim gave into their burns this week in Athens, lifting the number of dead from the deadliest fire to have occurred in the country to 99. The deceased is reportedly a 26-year-old woman who was being treated at Evangelismos hospital. While more burn victims are still hospitalised with a few remaining in intensive care, many residents of the affected area are still in shambles having not received any help from the local or state government. Several residents from Mati and neighbouring areas have said in a letter that many of the promised public works to restore damages have not started, Kathimerini reports. Those that have are moving "at an alarmingly slow pace jeopardising our safety," the residents' committee complained, stressing that many amongst them have yet to receive the initial relief aid to cover their immediate needs. The Hellenic Initiative (THI) Australia, in association with Paediatric Trauma Care (Pedtrauma) has moved to fund two regional paediatric facilities in Greece, providing them with necessary medical equipment for their Paediatric and Neonatal wards. The first clinic to receive part of the $48,000 grant was the General Hospital of Kastoria, that opened on Friday 7 September, in the presence of the Board Member of THI and CEO of Cancer Australia, Dr Helen Zorbas. "We are delighted that The Hellenic Initiative Australia is supporting our organisation and has assisted with these two regional hospitals in critical need," Dr Zorbas said. "Our role is to support the hospitals and give them what they need to save our children's lives because that's what they're doing... "Our goal is to upgrade all the hospitals in Greece and on the islands so that all children are within that one-hour radius to get to a hospital with the right facilities." Pedtrauma is a non-profit organisation operating since 1995, aiming to raise awareness of treatment for children and provide as many hospitals in Athens and Greece as possible with the right medical equipment in order to be able to deal with incidents involving children quickly and in the right manner, having already invested over €1.5 million towards this goal. The second clinic in Ioannina is expected to be upgraded sometime in October. "Greece is beginning to be recognised as a source of IT talent in Europe. There is an abundance of well-educated professionals that speak one to three languages on top of Greek. We really believe in the Greek talent and we will continue to support them," he explains. Although talent in Greece might be easy to find and attract, there are other challenges Blueground faces daily while operating a global company out of Greece, including political uncertainty, the complicated tax system, the inefficiency of the state and the continuous regulatory changes. According to Mr Chatzieleftheriou Blueground has managed to face these problems and achieve steady growth, thanks to the company's innovative, global business model. According to him, Blueground solves two main problems that exist regardless of the economic environment. First it helps tenants by providing much needed A Blueground property in New York. high-quality furnished apartments, that meet the needs of the modern renters. It also assists landlords by helping them find and vett guests who pay on time and take care of the property. Chatzieleftheriou said that this tested formula, which is working so well in Greece, the US, Turkey and the UAE, can also be applied to other countries, including Australia. "Our aim is to be present in over 50 cities and 50,000 locations by 2023. Of course, Australia is among the areas we are examining." Greece releases Turkish servicemen arrested at border Two Turkish soldiers arrested for entering Greece illegally on Sunday have been released from custody, reports The Associated Press. Following their release, the Turkish army issued an official statement claiming that the soldiers had accidentally crossed the border while following migrants who they suspected where attempting to cross the border into Greece. They stated that both servicemen were detained at 11.00 am on Sunday – a claim that differed in the statement issued by the Greek army. According to Greece, the first soldier – a non-commissioned officer reservist – who was armed with a rifle but no ammunition, was detained at 11.00 am on Sunday some 1,540 meters inside Greek territory. However the second soldier – a reserve officer trainee – was arrested carrying neither weapons nor ammunition three hours later, at 2.00 pm. During their depositions, the first Turkish soldier claimed that he had lost his way, while the second soldier said he crossed the border as he had been searching for his fellow soldier. The Turkish army said the soldiers were released after being questioned for sevenand-a-half hours by the authorities, which was confirmed by the Greek army. Meanwhile, it was also re- vealed by Greece that defence minister Panos Kammenos and his Turkish counterpart, Hulusi Akar, were in contact prior to the soldiers' release. In an interview with the AP, a Greek army spokesman, who requested to remain anonymous, denied claims made in the media that there was an exchange of gunfire during the incident. Sunday's incident comes soon after two Greek soldiers were released to Greece pending trial after crossing the border into Turkey in March. Despite claiming that they crossed over by accident, and a number of appeals made to the court for their release, the Greek soldiers were detained in Turkey up until August.
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