According to their recent report, the rapidly growing online service Airbnb, which provides a platform for individuals to rent unoccupied living spaces and other short-term rents to guests, is kick-starting tourism around the world. Airbnb’s site has generated over $600 million in economic activity, and collected nearly $31 million in sales tax from Airbnb guests in New York alone, and has had over 500,000 listings in 33,000 cities and 192 countries around the world. How popular is it in Croatia? Croatia Week spoke to Maja Novak from Main Square Apartment, Zagreb to find out more about the new phenomenon.
Maja, how popular are sites like Airbnb with travelers to Croatia? When we first started renting out our beautiful apartment on the Zagreb main square two years ago, the concept of short-term rentals wasn’t so popular here yet. Of course for tourists from all over the world this concept was already well-known and widely accepted, so as soon as we put our apartment online, we started receiving guests. Today, it seems that this concept has become a huge success, as currently there are more than 700 apartments for short-term rent in Zagreb, with new apartments opening almost on a daily basis. Luckily, more and more tourists are arriving in Zagreb every day, and many of them are much more likely to choose an apartment over a hotel.
What in your opinion are the advantages of short-term apartment rentals over say hotels? Whether someone will choose to book a hotel or an apartment is always a question of a personal preference, but in my opinion there are numerous advantages of an apartment. It is the best option for those who wish to experience the city at its best, as locals. It is more comfortable, cozy and intimate. The price of the whole apartment is far better than the price of a small hotel room.
Tell us a bit about Main Square Apartment and its advantages? The greatest advantage of my apartment over some others is definitely its perfect location. It is called The Main Square Apartment for a particular reason. Not because it is close to the Zagreb main square, but because it is – right there, on the very main square (Jelacic square). As central as it can be, it is still very quiet. With its double windows closed, you absolutely don’t hear any city noise. From your living room you can see the colourful Dolac market, the Cathedral, the beginning of the pedestrian zone of the famous Tkalciceva street. Everything you might need is right there. Many stores, shopping centres, restaurants, bars, a tram station, a 24/7 taxi stand, pharmacy, several banks, exchange offices, a post office, a public garage and all the other services you may want to use, you can practically see from the windows of your living room. Everything is just few steps away. The Main Square Apartment has also been awarded TOP VACATION RENTAL 2012 by the famous booking web site Flipkey by Tripadvisor and I myself have been awarded „EXPERT HOST“ on Housetrip.
When guests book online, what can they expect when they arrive? The apartment is fully furnished and very well equipped. You can enter with your suitcase with your clothes and practically start living here immediately. You can invite your friends, prepare your own lunch or dinner, bake a cake. If you’re not a cooking type, we can recommend the best catering in town. Generally, we’re always here for our guests, for whatever they may need or require. We offer many extra services such as the airport pick up/drop off , borrowing a Croatian mobile phone, renting bikes. For families with babies we provide a baby cot, a high chair, a push chair etc.
Where do most tourists who have found your place online come from? The majority of our guests come from the USA, Canada, Australia and Great Britain. However, we have had several groups of guests from, what we in Croatia would still consider an exotic far away country, such as Taiwan, Singapore, Macao, Hong Kong, South Korea, New Zealand, South Africa, Brasil…etc.
And how long do guest usually stay for with short-term rents? Mostly they stay 2-3 days, but we have also had some longer term bookings, like a month or two. It is so interesting to meet so many different people from all over the world, hear their stories. Sometimes if I feel a special positive vibe with my guests and I have some free time, I like to walk around the city with them and do some sightseeing absolutely free of charge, like friends. I like to chat over a coffee or something, get to know each other a bit better. I speak English, German, Spanish and understand a lot of Italian, so it is great to always keep in touch with native speakers and practice my knowledge. I have already made some friends for life, and still am in regular contact with some really nice couples and families.
How can would-be visitors to Zagreb find your place? The guests can find my apartment and book directly through our website apartment-mainsquare.com We have our facebook page too and we’re also on many international booking web sites such as Airbnb, Flipkey by Tripadvisor, HomeAway, Holiday Lettings…etc.