A MALAYSIAN TOUCH IN A VIENNESE AIRBNB

Malaysian-born Austrian resident, Kim Koay, has recently started operating her first AirBnb accommodation in Vienna. Kim, in her early thirties, trades in antiques and collectibles. Asian Property Review chats with her on how it all started.

APR: What inspired you to operate an AirBnb apartment in Vienna, Austria?

KK: This apartment is one of the apartments I own in Vienna and I used to stay there myself. I bought this apartment due to its excellent location – the apartment is located next to the subway, one station from the Main Train Station (Wien Hauptbahnhof ).

It is four stations to the city centre (U1 Stephansplatz – nearest stop to the famous tourist attractions such as Stephendom); three stations to U1 Karlplatz (famous tourist attractions such as Stateopera, Musikverein, Karl Church, Wien Museum). We have many friends who used to stay in hotels in Vienna and remarked that the hotel prices are high and it doesn’t feel like home.

We saw the opportunity and decided to provide foreign visitors affordable accommodation in Vienna that offers a quality and service similar to a hotel and yet feels like a home in Vienna.

The apartment is named ‘Feel the KLIMT’and its walls are adorned with the paintings of Austria’s famous artist, Gustav Klimt, as well as the paintings of Spanish artist ‘Tasirupekaharo’ and my own paintings which drew its inspiration from Klimt.

APR: How is the Austrian market for AirBnb residences in terms of demand and supply?

KK: Vienna is famous for its music, history and culture, architecture, arts and culinary delights. The capital of Austria has been continuously listed as the number one most liveable city in the world. Many international organisations’ headquarters or branches offices are located in Vienna, for example, the United Nations, Oil Exporting Countries (OPEC), Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and International Atomic
Energy Agency (IAEA), plus at least 100 international organisations.

Furthermore, many international meetings and events are held in Vienna every year. There are about 10,337 AirBnb listings in Vienna, out of which about 7,340 (71%) are entire home/apartments, 2,883 (27.9%) are private rooms and 114 (1.1%) are shared rooms. Such listings are still in the growth phase as Vienna is ranked 11th most visited city in the world with nearly 15 million overnight stays and 6.9 million arrivals in 2016. However, 18 million overnight stays and many more arrivals are planned until the year 2020.

Overall in Austria, there were 144.4 million overnight stays and 43.1 million tourists visiting last year.

APR: Where did you get the information on how to run an AirBnb accommodation?

KK: I have many friends who have stayed in AirBnb apartments during their travels. They gave me feedback on the style, design and ambiance of the apartments that they like. They also commented on the hosts and the hospitality. I then registered myself as an AirBnb host and slowly learnt how to run an Airbnb accommodation. I also picked up some very useful tips from Asian Property Review (an article called ‘Secrets to Mastering AirBnb by a Superhost’) on how to be a Superhost.

(Editor’s Note: We have received a lot of feedback saying that article is very helpful.)

APR: If it’s successful, will you be looking to operate another one?

KK: The Airbnb apartment has just started operating but the demand/booking rate is consistent and high. We plan to start another one or even a few at the same time in the near future since the demand is high in Vienna. If we operate another one, we will look for an apartment in the same district or nearby the current apartment for operational efficiency.

APR: Are there other activities that you offer to your guests apart from accommodation, e.g. cooking classes, tours, etc?

KK: We do provide city tours, food hunting or restaurant-hopping companion service, antique hunting, cooking classes (Malaysian, Austrian, Chinese, Thai and Italian cuisines) and hiking tours for nature-lovers. We also offer pick-up or drop-off services to and from the airport, train station or bus station.

APR: When you are not operating the AirBnb or working, how do you spend your free time?

KK: I travel to different countries, visit museums, go hiking and the gym, visitfriends, paint, and treasure-hunting in flea markets or antique shops.

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