Talking Business: Vivi Cahyadi, AltoVita

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AltoVita co-founder Vivi Cahyadi talks to SAN about the company's mission to become a global disrupter in the corporate housing sector.

• Tell us how and why AltoVita came about
"Co-founder Karolina and I are both frequent travellers. Having lived in more than 20 cities and five continents, we understood first-hand the challenge of settling into a new destination and keeping up with our healthy routine when abroad. We often struggled with finding reliable alternative accommodation and maintaining a healthy work-life balance."

"We created AltoVita to act as an e-concierge for frequent travellers making it effortless for them to access the best verified alternative accommodation and in-destination services. Since launching AltoVita two years ago, we’ve gotten to know the industry a lot better, and identified a genuine gap in the market, a legacy model where currently many middlemen are involved, where property details are still communicated via PDFs and where corporates pay on average 30 to 40 per cent more in accommodation charges. Even after all the back and forth, it's disheartening to learn that employees only receive a handful of options to choose from (sometimes without a choice at all) and are never able to make instant bookings."

"I personally have had the opportunity to receive relocation packages when I moved from NYC to HK and from HK to London during a period of my career working for investment banks. The whole process was outsourced entirely to relocation management companies (RMCs) who then worked offline when arranging temporary accommodation for me. I didn’t have any options to choose from and didn’t have the same user experience the way many travellers do nowadays with Booking.com or Airbnb."

"To that end, we are motivated to work with the industry and contribute to the digitisation of the fragmented booking process. We are already well on our way to do so and our efforts will be even more enhanced with our B2B2E(employee) solution where we white label our entire platform (accommodation and services) in the respective corporate client's unique brand and colour."

"Businesses such as relocation companies and travel management companies will have entire access to AltoVita’s curated content and booking platform with live availability and rates. Travel managers can set parameters based on different budgets and policies and even customise employee type and profile. Employees will have more autonomy in their accommodation selection. They can search, compare and book their preferred accommodation in real-time while still adhering to corporate budget and policies. In addition, they have access to a pre-negotiated a-la-carte menu of services to choose from when they arrive at their new destination. An all in one seamless white labeled solution powered by AltoVita."

• And how has the company grown since you launched?
"We launched AltoVita only two years ago, but the AltoVita brand has been well immersed in the corporate housing sector. The industry knows who AltoVita is and AltoVita's strict two-layer quality control and quality standard. We are present in 48 destinations in Europe today and globally within the next 12 months. We've been featured by Globetrender, Daily Mail and The Independent."

"We’ve built a creative, energetic and committed team in product development, sales & marketing and guest experience. The team at AltoVita loves the work that we do. The tech ecosystem is fun, engaging and we get to work with many brilliant & talented people. Most of all, we are passionate about delivering an intuitive solution for businesses and frequent travellers of the world with our curated alternative accommodation & in-destination services content."

• What sets you apart from your competitors?
"AltoVita strives to become the largest platform for corporate housing, but unlike other aggregators, we make sure that all accommodation is verified through our two-tier quality control process."

"Travellers can book verified accommodation and in-destination services intuitively depending on their personal needs within a few clicks. The booking platform offers real time availability and pricing, as well as in-destination services which can be added to an accommodation booking, or booked independently. It’s like an a-la-carte menu, you choose and pay for what you want. Our survey indicates that modern travellers would avoid paying for luxurious packages that have many hidden costs."

"We offer in-destination services ranging from basic services such as transportation, extra cleaning and grocery delivery to health & wellness, childcare and access to members clubs. Our content which consists of verified accommodation and in-destination services are highly curated, pre-negotiated and tested."

"AltoVita provides frequent travellers with verified portfolio of alternative accommodations suitable for extended stays. Prior to onboarding a supply partner, AltoVita conducts a two-tier verification process to ensure each property is compliant to corporate standards and duty of care policies. During the verification process both reliability & responsiveness of the supply partner as well as quality of the properties are closely examined. In addition to the vetting process, AltoVita conducts pre-inspections as a second layer of quality control 24 hours prior to each arrival of the guest. This is a key additional verification to ensure hotel-like quality of each AltoVita-verified property."

"We make sure that all fully furnished properties are managed by professional landlords and come with maintenance, professional cleaning and 24/7 emergency contact. All homes are equipped with towels, linens, toiletries and cleaning products and are fit for temporary living. Apartments containing landlord’s personal belongings are not accepted on AltoVita’s platform."

"Besides verified accommodation, AltoVita further personalises its offering by providing frequent travellers with in-destination services, ranging from childcare, grocery delivery to fitness classes, access to workspaces and much more. Each vendor of services is verified and preferential rates are provided to all users. The objective is to help guests staying for extended stays to navigate the new city and maintain a healthy and stress-free lifestyle when abroad. Services are seamlessly bookable online through the AltoVita powered in-destination services platform."

"All accommodations (both serviced apartments and alternative accommodations) and services are verified, curated and pre-negotiated thereby giving access, time and value to users. AltoVita brings seamless solution to in-destination services from online grocery to childcare where users can book within a few clicks. Each AltoVita extended stay comes with pre-inspection and a meet and greet by our local AltoReps. Users are not left alone as they can access our reservation team who can matchmake with relevant accommodation and in-destination services."

• What is the approximate breakdown of your client base, regarding business travel, leisure travel, families etc?
"The majority of our clients are business travellers for project assignments or for corporate relocation either as an individual or as family with an average length of stay of four to eight weeks. We also have a large number of clients who are in film production with the remaining made up of leisure travellers ranging from wellness trips and hen weekend, to family holidays."

• How do you market the company and raise awareness of what you do, particularly to PAs, travel buyers etc?
"We have a strong membership program where we focus on delivering values to our members in order to increase retention rate. Frequent travellers and members can unlock many ways to design a stay that fits their lifestyle and travel preferences. Memberships are available in two tiers, Skilled Traveller, for business travellers and those travelling with no children, and Family Forward, for employees travelling with families. Through the membership programme we enable frequent travellers to use AltoVita for 'bleisure' and the client’s personal travel."

"Our Business to Business to Employee (B2B2E) solution is a white-labelled accommodation and service platform powered by AltoVita backend engine where we provide a fully customised frontend platform for businesses. This allows travel managers to set their safety, budget and other parameters and at the same time enable their users and employees to have more autonomy and initiate bookings directly without involving agents. As a result, users and employees have structured autonomy and improved user experience journey to search for their accommodation while still adhering to corporate policies and corporates can save approximately 30 to 40 per cent of accommodation charges. Happier employees create more productive business outcomes."

• You have properties across a wide number of European cities - which locations are you targeting where you don’t yet have a presence and are you considering expanding to other continents?
"In 2020, we will be solidifying our presence in Europe and expanding our Curated Content of homes and in-destination services to both the US and Asia, increasing our no of properties to 30,000.

• How does your points system work?
"AltoVita offers a special membership program for personal assistants, executive assistants, office managers, or anyone else who books travel as part of their job. They can book a trip for someone else and they will earn points equivalent to 4.5 per cent of the booking value to spend on alternative accommodation or in-destination services on AltoVita.com."

• Where do you see the company in five years from now?
"We see AltoVita as the global disrupter in the corporate housing sector. Our vision is to have AltoVita’s intuitive platform at the heart of traveller’s mind when booking for extended stays and AltoVita’s Curated Content (alternative accommodation and in-destination services) funnelling through multiple marketing channels for both leisure and business travellers. We see AltoVita working in a collaborative global ecosystem of businesses service providers, apartment operators and individuals as both employees and leisure travellers."

 

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