As one of the most popular short-term home rental services in the world, Airbnb has been working on the Russian market for seven years. As of April 2017, the service posted 42,000 announcements in various Russian cities. With the World Cup
Russia Beyond asked Airbnb old-timers what it’s like to rent out apartments to foreigners, and why it’s important to use the World Cup as an opportunity to increase revenue.
“For 10 years I had my own tour company and found places for clients with the help of such services. But I always wanted to host people myself. So my husband and I bought two apartments, and now we’re buying a third,” said Irina in St. Petersburg. Both of her apartments are in an old building in the city center and are designed for foreigners.
“We bought the apartments as an investment, and asked the interior decorator to create ‘old charm.’ Europeans appreciate this. One is in the style of old St. Petersburg – high ceilings, heavy drapery, wall color that of the Hermitage, and with sconces, stucco and high plinths. The second is a mansard apartment in the Romantic Parisian style.
"Old St. Petersburg" stylePersonal archive
“But this is an exception, and usually guests treat apartments with reciprocal respect; perhaps because they see the love that goes into them. I do the cleaning myself. I communicate with guests, take reservations and greet them. I am used to trusting them. I don’t even ask for copies of their passports. I’m not afraid of football fans – how are they different from everyone else? I already have seven reservations for the World Cup. I will greet them and will definitely register them. The law gives you three days to do this. Those are the rules, what am I to do? If people are stopped at the stadium and they have problems, I will also be involved.
"I already have seven reservations for the World Cup. I will greet them and will definitely register them".Getty Images
Speaking about the difference between Russians and foreigners, Pavel in St. Petersburg noted that European guests have “
“The Russian guest is positive until the first inconvenience. Then he is skeptical about everything. Also, Russians want to find luxury in everything, even in a hostel. Meanwhile, Europeans can live on 120 euros per night and won’t take anything, even the bath towel,” says Pavel.
“Once I took a taxi to accompany some Swiss people to the airport. They were sitting barefoot in the entrance on some armchairs with tea mugs. My pre-revolutionary house has a wide beautiful staircase, round handrails
"I have a 9-to-5 job, and the main reason I do this is to socialize”.Personal archive
“I have a 9-to-5 job, and the main reason I do this is to socialize,” Irina explains. “You even make friends with some
Irina raised her price by 150 percent, to $170 per day, and does not know “what other people are doing.” She still doesn’t have any World Cup reservations. “My apartment is a romantic mansard, rather authentic, far from the center and the bars, while fans probably want to be in the heart of the action.”
Moscow rental prices have increased by an average of three to fourfold, says Natalya. She rents out four apartments on Airbnb and has increased their number this year.
“Almost all my apartments have video surveillance – in the corridors, partly in the kitchen and common rooms, but not in the bedroom. But I openly warn people about this. I stipulate the contracts in English and take a deposit in case something is damaged. Honestly speaking, we are afraid of what these fans may do. But at the same time, we want to make money,” says Natalya.
St. Petersburg apartments. Nevsky aveGetty Images
Natalya’s studio in a Stalin building near VDNKh usually costs 4,000 rubles ($64) per day. But during the World
Currently, Natalya employs a maid and a few other people who help her with guests and the promotion. “I’m afraid of leaving town during that time. I can’t abandon my workers. That’s why we take our vacations before and after the championship, one by one. I can imagine what’s going to happen here – we’ll be fussing about like mad; especially since we want to make money. Such an opportunity can’t be missed,” she concluded.
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