The era of the temporary home
But the question we have to ask ourselves is: are we tied to bricks, doors and windows or to the experiences we live in homes? Well, more and more people respond that the value lies not in possession but in use. This means having flexible solutions in living. We take a professional who has to move to another city for a few months for work, or a young couple who wants to start a cohabitation or, again, a freelancer who works in telework and wants to discover new metropolitan opportunities, what do they have in common? Well, today it is no longer necessary to imagine it because a Ticino start-up has realized it and intends to become a point of reference for the “micro-living” at a European level.
We spoke with Andrea Blotti, Vice President of the Board of Directors of City Pop AG.
Andrea, how did you come up with City Pop?
“The project started about 5 years ago within Artisa Group. After a careful analysis of the rental market based on demographic statistics, we have found that 40% of people in European cities live alone; a percentage that will increase by 10% in the coming years. Statistics show that half of the apartments will be inhabited by one person. These are people who, in many cases, choose the city for work reasons, perhaps for a limited period of time and therefore need comfortable, ready and flexible solutions.”
Who are your customers?
“Our target group collects different profiles: from those who have to move for work or for an internship to those looking for a first home, alone or as a couple, but do not want to invest in purchases because they prefer to see how it goes. But also people who have separated and are looking for an apartment already furnished and with a range of services available. Generally, our guests are between 30 and 40 years old, but there are exceptions, for example an 80-year-old couple who have decided to live close to their daughter and grandchildren during the week and a nice 94-year-old lady.”
What are the news represented by City Pop?
“The first is that you don’t need agencies and intermediaries to choose the apartment and have a lease. You do everything with the app. All we need is an ID and a credit card as collateral.
The second is that an apartment is rented already fully furnished with high quality standards, where the customer only needs their own suitcase to move. The tenant has no surprises, he knows that, regardless of the location chosen, will always have the qualitative guarantee of a City Pop apartment.
The third is the services we offer, both in terms of simplification of daily life and ease of becoming part of an active community that helps to integrate into a new city.”
“In addition to on-demand services such as cleaning, laundry, delivery, etc. we provide tenants with co-living and co-working spaces, designed to instil well-being, recharge the mind and increase the ability to concentrate. But not only that, for our customers we offer workshops and events, fun opportunities to create new bonds and discover the city together.”
On the side of the owner of the property, what are the advantages?
“First of all, thanks to the contract signed with City Pop, it has a guaranteed income for several years. Secondly, City Pop does not have to worry about anything regarding the management and maintenance of the building, it follows the state of the property and carries out the necessary maintenance, providing the property with an up-to-date list of amenities. City Pop offers an optimization of operating costs thanks to the use of the technology offered by the app and its back-office. In addition, thanks to this collaboration partners have access to a wide range of marketing services that support the property.”
The heart of your system is the app. How does it work?
“You download it like any app from the App store or Play store; it’s free, intuitive and secure. The search and booking of the apartment takes 5 minutes. The technology used for the locks allows to transform the smartphone into the access key, also giving the possibility to customers who prefer to view the apartment before booking it to visit it independently. Once inside the world of City Pop, the app becomes the tool to customize your stay with many services on demand, discover what the neighbourhood offers and get in touch with the other tenants of the building.”
How are the apartments organized?
“We have aimed to maintain, in all our locations, the same minimal and elegant design based on an intelligent optimization of space and based on the experience gained by Artisa Group in designing homes. The choice of all materials used must meet very high requirements, not only in terms of aesthetics but also functional.
The apartments differ in size, exposure, number of rooms and whether or not there is a balcony. It ranges from the smallest of 21 square meters up to 83 square meters for the largest. The majority of these, however, most of these are below 40 square meters because we are primarily targeting people who live alone or young couples.”
What is the average length of stay?
“We have been in business for a year and a half, and the average rental period is 8 months, but it can vary from 4 to 52 weeks. After the first booking, 52% of our customers extend their rental period, a sign that the solution meets their expectations and responds to society’s new needs.”
You started and shortly afterwards the pandemic broke out, what were the results?
“Since the start of the pandemic, we have adapted the guest experience to make sure everything is as safe as possible, including upgrading our common areas. The ability to view the flat independently has made the booking process faster and safer, as the presence of a salesperson is not necessary.
Since our opening, to our great satisfaction, we have maintained an occupancy rate of 98% despite the pandemic. For our market, I would therefore say that the pandemic has not led to any contractions and to accommodate customers who have had to cancel their bookings we have decided to reimburse all costs.”
Where are the City Pop apartments located?
“We choose to build or renovate, through Artisa, properties in city centres that are convenient to services and transport. City Pop takes care of the management and rental of the building in which the flats are built to the standards of the concept. These are structures with an average of a hundred flats. To date, we have around 320 residential solutions available in the various complexes we manage. We are present in Lugano, Zurich and Lausanne.”
What will be the future developments?
“We want to increase the offer in Switzerland and we will open new City Pop facilities in Bern and Geneva. But not only that, we will soon inaugurate new buildings in Europe: in Prague, Milan, Frankfurt and Berlin. In the next 5 years we expect the construction of 15,000 apartments in major European cities. Of course, we will have to adapt the offer model to the different national legal and regulatory frameworks on rental, but ease of use, flexibility and the provision of complementary services will remain our hallmark. We want to become the benchmark for the creation of a highly mobile community of people.”
Is the tourist market in your projects?
“We wanted to focus on this particular offer of micro-living linked to cities, but we are also considering other markets, such as the one related to tourist resorts, as always, however, for projects that are born in the Artisa area, the process will take the time necessary to carefully check all the details and have the guarantee to develop an excellent product for those who live there and for those who invest.”
Year of birth: 1981
Profession: Board member of Artisa Group and City Pop
Andrea Blotti, member of the Board of Directors of the Artisa Group, is one of the driving forces of the micro-living operator City Pop. Since 2010 he has been responsible for the development of business at the national level of the group, with particular attention to sales and acquisitions and he takes care of relations with institutional investors in Switzerland and Europe.