Imagine taking a trip without comparing flight options on Google Flights or booking a hotel without researching the best accommodations on Booking.com or Airbnb? Seems audacious! Well, that’s what it feels like if you want to rent an office in most parts of Europe today. If you search online, there are only two options.
While renting traditional office space online, one would land on sites like Fundainbusiness. The second option would be online brokers, who will offer you mostly ready-to-go, serviced offices. But none of them is close to having accurate pricing and availability information. It’s also almost impossible to understand the full cost of a lease without visiting each location and getting first-hand information from the location representative.
However, Deskbookers, an Amsterdam-based startup, claims to solve all these problems and offer the largest flexible office and meeting space booking platform in Europe. One can actually use the platform to get direct access to thousands of office and meeting spaces across the Netherlands, Germany, and Belgium.
Deskbookers aims to transform the online office renting industry by being the one-stop-shop for businesses and professionals looking for offices spaces, meeting rooms and desks. The company basically wants to help professionals across every stage of business renting. According to Deepti Sahi, CEO, Deskbookers, there are four major renting problems which the company aims to address.
#1 No ‘one’ source of truth
Having one trusted place with all transaction data that is kept up to date allows for tenants and owners to make informed and efficient decisions. The United States has made a lot of progress on that front with companies like CoStar having a comprehensive registry of commercial transactions. Unfortunately, Europe has a long way to go. Today details of most commercial transactions are hidden in silos and known only by the seller/lessor, buyer/lessee and their respective brokers in each respective country, if not the respective city.
In contrast, when we talk about residential entries, there is a land registry for all residential transactions that enables brokers, sellers, and buyers to perceive a properties’ historical worth and find out its current value through comparisons.
#2 No transparency!
Due to the lack of an aggregated source of information, transactions involving conventional office spaces are heavily guarded by brokers. Which means, there’s almost no way to circumvent brokers since some online platforms like Funda in business allow only NVM certified brokers to list properties on their site. This results in a closed network of brokers and their enablers, which means no transparency or access for outsiders.
#3 No incentive to standardise transactions
One of the most common arguments heard for ‘why brokers are necessary for commercial leases’ is the complexity of these deals. However, Deskbookers think that this is a self-fulfilling structure that’s created and maintained by brokers, who work on behalf of both — suppliers of office space providers and demanding tenants.
Brokers specialising on the supply side are heavy influencers in the area of contract terms and the overall transaction process. Such brokers are incentivized to make the contract as complex as possible so that tenants can’t easily compare options or question their involvement.
However, Deskbookers believes that including standardised terms in a considerable portion of the lease transactions will not only allow easier comparison but will also save time and costs associated with completing a lease transaction. Liquidspace, a company based in the US, is already doing something similar with their DASH License which is a standardised agreement to rent space.
#4 Complacent ecosystem players, including online disruptors:
Current online brokers seem to accept the constraints around available information and have created business models that can exist within the status quo. Such brokers usually reach out to as many office providers as possible for a single interested tenant, which results in the latter receiving a flurry of unsolicited phone calls and emails from dozens of office providers. As a result, most brokers are focused strictly on quantity of leads vs. deep tenant engagement and quality of interactions, thereby hurting the tenant experience.
The aforementioned few examples make the CRE market in Europe quite challenging to change. Deskbookers says they’re not so naive to think that things could change overnight but they hope to increase awareness among tenants for not blindly trusting a broker while making a decision that impacts employee productivity and morale.
To book an office or meeting space for your business via Deskbookers, click here!
Main image credits: Deskbookers
Stock photos from Peshkova, Silentgunman, sebra, and Tatomirov/Shutterstock