Hotelaria Vs Alojamento Local

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Local accommodation — can hotels compete?

According to estimates local accommodation such as AirB&B, guest houses and hostels in Lisbon now account for more than 50% of all tourist bookings in the capital.

In fact houses set aside for local tourist accommodation in the borough of Lisbon which has around 500,000 inhabitants has the capacity to accommodate 102,000 visitors.

The statistics come from Lisbon City Council which also remarks that in March 2019 there were 18,000 local accommodation establishments, a growth of 80% on 2018, a growth trend that has increased on previous years.

But how is this competition affecting the traditional hotel sector in the city and is the mushrooming phenomena of guest houses creating unfair competition or can the two co-exist happily?

This was the question on the table at a debate last week entitled “Hotels v Guest Houses and areas of contention: competitive rivals or complementary alternatives” co-organised by the British-Portuguese Chamber of Commerce (BPCC), the French, Belgian-Luxembourg and German chambers of commerce with panel with Ricardo Amantes (Commercial & Investments Director of Coporgest/Lisbon Best Apartments) Miguel Garcia ( Director of the Tivoli Avenida Liberdade) and moderated by Vítor Norinha, journalist (Megafin).

The first issue raised was if there was a certain tourism phobia in Lisbon with the spectre of the city becoming a tourist Disneyland like Barcelona, Berlin or Venice.
Ricardo Amantes said that while there wasn’t evidence of a phobia towards tourists in Lisbon, tourist numbers had grown exponentially over the past four years and Miguel Garcia pointed to the need for better public transport infrastructure and services to cater for the growing numbers.

“If Lisbon and Porto are not better prepared for this demand and given that we don’t have a second airport up and running yet, the city will need more infrastructure, services and better quality ones.”

“Today we see local accommodation not so much as a competitor but complementary to existing offer and vital for the development of cities like Lisbon and Porto,” Amantes added.

In fact, the Portuguese are well known for being hospitable and having the art of welcoming visitors and being good hosts, a phenomena seen up and down the country.
“I think we are one of the few countries in the world who know how to welcome visitors and make an effort to do so in English. We have room to grow and develop but must do so in a sustainable way” he said.

Crunching the numbers Vítor Norinha said in Lisbon there were 18,000 local accommodation premises but 15% offered a poor service and many of these in area of contention such as the central Lisbon historic neighbourhoods. Local accommodation — and these numbers have been disputed — represent 50% of all tourist accommodation in Lisbon and Porto, others sources say 33% while around 63% of beds in Lisbon are for local accommodation and 37% for hotels. In 2018 there were 56,000 beds in hotels and apart-hotels while in the first half of 2019 there were 25-5 million visitors which means the same amount of tourists as in 2018.

Some 92% of the license holders of local accommodation own between one and three premises which means it is a relatively small business with area of contention representing 20% and relative areas of contention (15%).

Regulations scare of investors

Ricardo Amantes said he was “very critical” of regulations aimed at controlling the number and nature of local accommodation that has been approved but currently awaiting publication and are designed to protect the lifestyle of local residents in historic neighbourhoods and maintain the traditional and authentic character of them.
“It seems to me that the real reason for introducing these regulations is not so much to ‘put the house in order’ but to try and resolve the problem of a lack of affordable housing in Lisbon since reading the memoranda to do with the regulations the aim is to ‘preserve the social reality of the neighbourhoods and residents and safeguard the fundamental rights to housing against the growth of local accommodation and the pressure this demand puts on rising property and rental prices.

“For me there does not exist a direct relationship between local accommodation and a lack of housing in these historic neighbourhoods. If it wasn’t for local accommodation, there would not be a number of buildings that have been done up and local trade and business that has sprung up and we would have continued to witness what we had experienced before 2014 where a large number of these neighbourhoods were run down with buildings that were abandoned or in ruins, a population that was very elderly while local accommodation had already existed anyway.”

Miguel Garcia said he had a “different view” of local accommodation which was that it was complementary. “I agree that it has to be controlled and regulated to preserve local traditions and authenticity. To preserve our history and the elderly with their washing lines hanging from windows really is part of our culture and history.”

“If you are a tourist and see hoards of tourists in the traditional neighbourhoods you completely lose the effect of the authenticity of these “bairros” and local accommodation must result in creating a genuine experience in the location, avoiding situations that have happened in Greece and Italy” he said adding that Lisbon rank the risk of approaching a Disneyland situation.

It was also pointed out that investors had bought up property to turn into hotels or guest houses and were now, because of the regulations, left with either potential white elephants on their hands or were facing restrictions making it difficult to have a good return on their investments. “These government rules have been passed regardless of the current investments underway” he said adding that so far the Government had not given a positive reply to concerns over investments already earmarked in Lisbon.

“From the point of view of overseas investors who have and want to invest in Portugal it sends out a bad sign that investors cannot trust the government because it chops and changes the rules,” he said.

Hotels v Local Accommodation

So, with local accommodation already overtaking Lisbon’s hotels on mid-price average stays (city-breaks), can the hotel sector compete and coexist with the more affordable competition that is attracting so many younger people to stay in the city?
It largely depends on the type of trade you are looking at. According to the Lisbon Tivoli boss, if I’m looking at the Tivoli Avenida (five-star) we perhaps have competition from the first stay tourists make in the city. What I call curiosity visitors,” he said.
“But for people that want services, history, brand and class then the expectation is completely different for a certain type of traveller that wouldn’t be expecting the same in local accommodation,” he added.

“But it we look at our three and four-star hotels, then I would agree that we have a greater competition.”
The answer could be to become better and more competitive at three and four-star level, strengthen its core business which in hotels means service whole local accommodation has a lot of growth to do in these areas.

Some bed and breakfast guest houses that are members of city hosting platforms can so offer some services but the kind of tourists that book into local accommodation are not the same kind of visitors who want to stay in hotels.

“I think there is room for both, but we at Tivoli in terms of mid-price strategy believe that local accommodation could become a competitor since value-for-money is very important and more so than the classification of three or four star classifications,” said Miguel Garcia.
“I think one way or another local accommodation will need become more self-demanding to become competitive and many in the hotel sector so see this as a big threat that we have to battle against, but today I see it has a complement to existing offer,” he said.
The overall conclusion was that there was a percentage of local accommodation providers offering bad or limited services and or conditions currently in the market while it was likely that within the sector itself there would be fierce and growing competition reflected by some local accommodation providers upping their game in terms of conditions and services offered, putting them effectively on a par with small residential hotels.

By Essential Business

United Lisbon International School

Admissions Suite ready to receive registrations for September 2020 start

As a new international school in close proximity to the Park of Nations, the United Lisbon International School will open its doors to the first students in September 2020. United Lisbon will be a modern and innovative school, with its curriculum based on US-standards and leading to the internationally acknowledged International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma, in combination with the “Advanced Placement” (AP) program, administered by the American College Board.

In September 2020, United Lisbon International School will open its doors to the first select group of 150 students from Early Childhood (3 years) to Grade 9 (14 years). A year ahead of the opening, the admissions process has now been officially launched. The newly opened admissions office – to welcome prospective families for individual meetings – is built to be a model space for the educational philosophy of United Lisbon as a transparent, agile and collaborative space.

After more than a year of planning, the renovation of the school campus, at Avenida Marechal Gomes da Costa, about a 10-minute drive from central Lisbon, is underway and will be completed in summer 2020. The first phase of construction focuses on the main building, with spacious classrooms, open-space learning hubs, state-of-the-art science labs, a maker space area and art studios. Around the building, the school’s outdoor sports facilities and playgrounds are also to be completed for the opening in 2020.

Chitra and Roman Stern, founders of the Martinhal Group and investors in the United Lisbon International School say: “We are excited to be starting the admissions process for the first intake now. The team has worked hard in developing the school concept and preparing the rehabilitation of the existing university site into a modern school campus. A significant part of the 200 families enquiring to-date has been from those wishing to relocate to Lisbon already for some time but were not able due to the lack of spaces in international schools for their children.”

United Lisbon school will be operated by International Schools Services (ISS), based in Princeton, USA. In over 60 years of history, ISS has successfully, supported launched and built more than 110 schools around the globe and is at the forefront of international school education. Already a year in advance of the opening, the school has successfully taken the first steps to accredit and authorize its educational programs at the national and international level:

  • The Portuguese Ministry of Education has issued the initial license for the school;
  • The International Baccalaureate Organization (IBO) has awarded Candidate School Status to United Lisbon for the authorization of the IB Diploma Program;
  • The New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC), one of the main US standard setters, has confirmed the eligibility for accreditation of the school after its opening.

“United Lisbon will offer modern education inspired by and fit for the 21st century and beyond, building on globally established educational standards such as the International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma Program and Advanced Placement (AP). To enable students to grow through learning experiences that matter in the world into which our students will graduate, we create a forward-looking ecosystem for active, student-driven learning: applying new standards in pedagogy; creating open, agile and collaborative spaces; and a seamlessly integrating modern technologies,” says Dr. Nils Remmel, Founding Head of School.

Dr. Paul Johnson, ISS Senior Leadership Executive states: “Working to launch the United Lisbon International School has been an invigorating and inspiring experience. The team in Lisbon possesses the vision and drive to make United Lisbon an exciting school preparing students to face challenges of a rapidly changing world. Combined with the professional resources available through ISS, the school is positioned to be a leader in international education. It is exciting to be part of such a forward-thinking group of people.”

With its vision “to empower and inspire the young generation for a sustainable world”, United Lisbon will set itself apart through rigorous academic programs, a strong focus on the skills and values the next generation will need to be successful in tomorrow’s world, as well as supporting longer-term sustainabl Lisbon, puts it in a unique position to enrich student learning through experiences beyond the classroom building on partnerships and collaborations with local institutions and corporations.

All details on the admissions process are published at the school’s website:


Contact for inquiries:
Email: [email protected]
Tel: +351 218 370 973
Address: Admissions Office,
Avenida Marechal Gomes da Costa nº 19B,
1800-255 Lisboa


About Martinhal Resorts  

Martinhal Resorts are four hotels in Portugal located in the most prestigious and privileged locations – Sagres and Quinta do Lago in the Algarve, Cascais and Chiado in Lisbon. The brand is completely focused on the luxury market for families. The developers, Chitra and Roman Stern, are working on their fifth property, Martinhal Residences (, in the Park of Nations in Lisbon.

 About International Schools Services (ISS)

International Schools Services (ISS) works with more than 500 international schools and thousands of educators each year, creating the largest global footprint in international education support. Since its inception in 1955, ISS has launched and managed more than 110 international schools; placed approximately 50,000 educators; and developed ground-breaking learning programs, such as the World Language Initiative and Level 5 Creativity & Innovation Hubs. With its headquarters in Princeton, USA, ISS currently owns or operates nearly 20 international schools around the world and promotes innovation and best practices for global education through its core services that include founding and managing student-centred, future-oriented schools. ISS staff has extensive experience in all aspects of international education, with most senior leaders having served as Heads of Schools across a variety of continents.

AI is disrupting the Industry in so many sectors. True or False?

The BPCC regularly organises invitation-only brainstorming think-tank lunches where we gather a diverse group to exchange perspectives around a topic which impacts on the evolving workplace.  On 17 September, generously sponsored by Deloitte, we debated the potential benefits and detriments of Artificial Intelligence.  Amongst our guests was Fabio Rodrigues of U5 Marketing who had recently joined the Chamber as a Member, so we invited him to give his feedback on what he was able to take away from the event:

“AI is disrupting the Industry in so many sectors. True or False?”  

I started my career in the telecommunications industry in 1999, only twenty years ago; at that time, there was no such thing as data services on regular people’s mobile devices. Small initiatives — e.g. WAP and Bluetooth — were, however, emerging as revolutionary promises. They were presented at technology meetings as huge innovations, albeit dependent on yet-to-come technology, bandwidth and even hardware.

On these occasions, a futuristic imagery of a parallel world, with technological situations and solutions akin to those only existent in films, was brought to life through state-of-the-art videos. One such content was that of a man’s appliances reacting to their owner’s presence by starting to function once he entered his home: a reception contingent on his Location-Based Services Device — or, as it is known today, Bluetooth. Incredibly, in the time span of merely three to five years, an overwhelming amount of this kind of technology was being brought to regular customers at certain events, such as the World Mobile Conference, which focused on the main industry; and even more surprisingly, these same commodities were already becoming obsolete, as was the case of WAP (Wireless Access Protocol, or “data’s grandparent”).

In a welcoming and delightful environment, Mr. Chris Barton from BPCC gathered eighteen experts on the topic (a group in which I was very generously included), to discuss whether or not artificial intelligence has the necessary tools and abilities to partially, or maybe even fully, disrupt the telecom industry. Those present seemed to come to a general agreement that this particular change will not be based on a specific event, nor is it only one launch away from happening; it is an ongoing and ever changing process: a frightening, yet exciting notion for one to contemplate. After all, according to the aforementioned perspective, technological development and advance is constantly happening around us, including at this very moment.

With the thought-provoking question of whether process automation should be considered a type of artificial intelligence, our sponsor for the day, Mr. Pedro Tavares from Deloitte, was the one to start off our discussion. The topic was soon followed by a debate about the role of telecom companies in the environment in which we now find ourselves. A consensus in favour of these companies was reached, as we perceived them to be an indispensable technology integrator.

Over two hours and a delicious lunch, prepared by the award-winning Santiago de Alfama Boutique Hotel, most of the invitees had come to terms with the idea that soon enough we would be living in a world in which people will seamlessly interact with self-driving cars, unmanned drones, nanotechnological anti-tumour pills, as well as other high tech developments which only three years ago could only have been found in the movie theatres.

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Text: Fabio Rodrigues and Maria Eduarda Castro
U5 Marketing – Designers as a Service

Photo: Rolando Oliveira
Redux Consulting

Matthew Shribman

Matthew Shribman on Climate Change.

Youtube ecology sensation Matthew Shribman was in Portugal in September for an event organised by the British-Portuguese Chamber of Commerce and Greene’s Tutorial College on the greatest challenge of our century – Climate Change Emergency

International scientists, some world politicians and several multinational companies now recognise that manmade climate change is a fact.
The finest minds in the field stress that the time for a ‘business as usual’ approach is well and truly over. No one can now doubt climate change and claim it does not affect them. We all have to deal with it and change the way we live.
The Earth’s climate is changing at its fastest rate in 60 million years — when the Dinosaurs became extinct. In fact, we could be on the verge of an extinction event again not seen since the “Great Dying” 250 million years ago when 70% of land and 90% of marine species vanished from the earth forever.

Hurtling towards disaster
Famous for his ‘Science in the Bath’ talks on the environment on Youtube, Matthew Shribman says that we live in a societal system of “ingrained beliefs” and despite scientists and environmentalists warning that we are hurtling towards disaster, we are not changing course.
Shribman stresses that he is “anything but anti-capitalist” since capitalism has massively benefitted science and powered human progress.
“Success in a capitalist society is something that generates more money, but humans have much more complicated needs. From a scientist’s point of view, the system we are living in is driving destruction very rapidly and its not turning around,” says Shribman.
“This is because business and corporations are designed to optimise production to maximise profits. Deforestation, overfishing, mass farming and extraction are perfectly legal in many countries in order to promote the activities of corporations,” he adds.
So, why does mankind continue on its path of wilful blindness? Shribman says it is partly because the threats we have evolved to face are very different to climate change. It is why behavioural psychologists are so interested in people’s reactions to climate change and finding ways of making people take it seriously and worry about it.

Shocking statistics
Every second 300 kg of plastic enters the oceans, absorbing pollutants which marine mammals, fish and plankton eat those pollutants which work their way back to humans in the food chain.
Global top soil — vital for agriculture — is now between one-third and one-half degraded (40%). It takes 1000 years to regain one centimetre of topsoil. “We are running out of topsoil and fertilisers simply aren’t enough,” he says.
Since 1950, 50% of temperate forest has disappeared, mostly to replace the exhausted topsoil that is no longer fertile to grow crops. “We have three trillion trees left on Earth and need to plant an equal number to restore the balance,” says Shribman.
The oceans are 30% more acidic than they were a few years ago because of dissolved carbon dioxide, which is why coral is dying and with it the ecosystems it supports, including oxygen generating phytoplankton which, if that dies, will result in “our suffocating to death in an unbreathable CO2 atmosphere”.
Just some of the worrying scientific facts to join to the global extinction rate which is now 1000 times higher than ‘background rates’, i.e., the normal rate at which creatures become extinct without the stresses of manmade invasion of habitats and pollution with one-quarter of all species at risk of pollution and insect populations down by 40% in some parts of Europe.
“We are really fragile as a species and I think that is something that we don’t appreciate a lot of the time.”
In fact, the consequences of not acting drastically to counter global warming now will be crop failures, droughts, floods, mass displacement of people and imploding economies — and these are from conservative models made by scientists.
Says Shribman: “We are dangerously underestimating how much trouble we are in. We have 12 years remaining of CO2 budget that we can continue using in the same way as before after which we will not be able to prevent a rise in the global temperature of 2ºC”.
At best the world has just eight years to change before it reaches a tipping point of no return and yet we are still aiming for 2050 which is “not fast enough”. “We are well on track for 5ºC warming by 2100” he warned.

Speed of change
Climate deniers point out that climate change has happened regularly in the planet’s history and that’s true. What is different now is the speed at which these changes are happening — all within 60 years instead of several hundreds of thousands or even millions of years.
Most of this change, including freak weather changes, is driven by the energy sector and farming, in particular beef farming.
“Every 10 years of food imports results in tropical forest the size of Portugal being lost forever,” says Shribman.
“The one single thing that ordinary people can do to make a difference is to stop eating beef. If the world cut out beef, it would have a greater impact on reducing CO2 emissions than if we banned all motorised vehicles.”
“Mass extinctions have happened before and there is no reason that it won’t happen again. It is time to stop pretending that things are going to be ok. We need radical thinking where people at the top in governments and corporations start a revolution because otherwise it will be too late,” concludes Shribman.

Portugal not immune
Filipe Lowndes Marques, partner at lawyers Morais Leitão, Galvão Teles, Soares da Silva & Partners who is President of the Board of Directors of the British-Portuguese Chamber of Commerce said that Portugal was not “immune to the issue of climate change. “Over the past quarter of a century there has been a significant increase in both the hottest and coldest temperatures recorded in Portugal.
“The Portuguese environmental agency has forecast an increase in maximum temperatures of three degrees in the summer in coastal areas and seven degrees inland. “If we have the horrible problem of forest fires now, imagine what it is going to be like with an extra seven degrees!” he said.
Models also foresee that Portugal is expecting a reduction in annual rainfall by 20-40%, mostly in the south of Portugal (Alentejo and Algarve).
On the other hand, Portugal is expected to have a much larger number of days with heavy rainfall, with its impact on agriculture and the wine and olive oil production industries. “We are well on the road to having the worst of both worlds,” said Lowndes-Marques stressing that: “action has to be taken quickly.”
At the Chamber of Commerce many of its corporate members have taken the issue of climate change seriously. EY offers services to help companies evaluate the risk arising from climate change and sustainability issues. Lexus, the car manufacturer, has been improving fuel efficiency and promoting fuel diversification.

A net zero carbon economy?
The British Ambassador to Portugal, Chris Sainty, said that climate change had “rocketed up the agenda” and had gone way beyond speeches and conferences and articles by politicians, journalists and academics.
“It has now found its way into our lives. The climate change emergency has become a personal thing for all of us. Particularly for young people across the world who know that they will be the ones who pick up the pieces when the rest of us have passed on,” he said.
The British Embassy, for example, has stopped using single-use plastics at internal events, saving the use of thousands of plastic water and coffee cups, plates, bowls and cutlery.
“Like Portugal we have set ourselves the ambition of becoming a net zero carbon economy by 2050. In the UK we are going to achieve that by legally-binding climate change legislation and a clean growth strategy in business, housing and transport,” said the ambassador.

Legislation-driven change
Legislation in various countries, including Britain and Portugal is going to drive social, cultural, business and technological change across the world over the next 30 years.
Internationally, the UK is ambitious over climate change and together with Italy will host the 2020 Global Climate Change Summit “COP26” in Glasgow.
The Deputy Mayor of Oeiras – a Greater Lisbon borough that has its own climate change programme – Dr. Francisco Rocha Martins quoted US President John F. Kennedy who in 1963 at the time of the Cuban Missile Crisis said: “Our most common link is that we are all inhabitants of this climate, we all breathe the same air and we all look out for our children’s future.”
“The clock is ticking and although the planet has always found a way of renewing itself, it is now facing desperate times. If we want to save our oceans and forests we have only one option ahead: to take climate change action.”

Text and photos: Chris Graeme
Essential Business

Portugal Confidential Travel and Minor Hotels Partner Hosts Major Luxury Travel Company in Portugal

Portugal Confidential Travel, the Algarve-based luxury destination management consultant, together with Minor Hotels, hosted a familization trip for eight travel agents of Frosch International Travel in May 2019. The aim was to promote Portugal as a destination able to accommodate Frosch’s preferred clients, leisure and business travelers, and to showcase many luxury service providers in Lisbon, Algarve and Sintra.

“The number of American tourists to Portugal has increased considerably in the last two years,” says Portugal Confidential Travel Co-Owner Cathy Leibman. “We really wanted Frosch to indulge in the Portuguese culture, as well as understand that the luxury hospitality business is prepared to welcome their clients.”

Accommodations and many of the meals for the Frosch agents were provided by Minor Hotels. The group stayed two nights each at the Tivoli Avenida Liberdade, Anantara Vilamoura and Tivoli Palácio de Seteais.

“It is important that Frosch agents experience Anantara and Tivoli properties in Portugal, and get a sense for the high level of service we offer,” mentions Frederico Ayala, Director of Luxury Sales at Minor. “We were pleased to coordinate this activity with Portugal Confidential Travel.”

Throughout the trip, transfers in V-Class Mercedes were provided by VIP Chauffeurs Algarve.

The itinerary of unique experiences created by Portugal Confidential Travel included dinner at José Avillez’s BECO Gourmet Cabaret, private tours of Lisbon and Sintra by Blue Collective, lunch at Louro Restaurant at Conrad Algarve, a yachting excursion by Liv Lux, followed by a Benegil cave exploration with Taruga Tours, an evening at VILA VITA Parc’s Fine Wines & Food Fair, lunch at Tivoli Évora and dinner at Casal Sta. Maria winery.

“From start to finish, the Frosch agents were very impressed with the high level of service and abundance of luxury activities available in Portugal,” offered Portugal Confidential Co-owner Greg Boegner.

Welcome Home to Portugal

Morais Leitão atribui Prémio Inovação pela primeira vez

A Morais Leitão atribuiu esta semana, pela primeira vez, o seu Prémio Inovação, um recém-inaugurado galardão interno da sociedade.

A vencedora foi Patrícia Carvalho, colaboradora e assistente da Morais Leitão, com um projeto de rotação internacional de advogados e colaboradores da sociedade, de modo a aprofundar a partilha de procedimentos dentro de uma rede que já conta com escritórios em três continentes.

O prémio consiste numa viagem à escolha da vencedora, com a condição única de englobar uma visita a qualquer uma das sbr>ociedades que integram a rede Morais Leitão Legal Circle – Portugal, Angola, Moçambique, Macau e Hong Kong.

Nesta primeira edição do Prémio Inovação da Morais Leitão foram apresentadas a concurso 30 ideias. O sucesso do projeto reflete a forma como todos os advogados e colaboradores vivem ativamente o crescimento da sociedade, com uma consciência atenta ao seu desenvolvimento, participando e integrando comentários, sugestões e críticas, sempre marcados por um forte espírito de iniciativa.

As propostas de Inês Magalhães Correia, José Maria Montenegro, Maria Rupia Lopes e Paula Lopes mereceram ainda a atribuição de menções honrosas, pela sua qualidade.

Este prémio é uma das iniciativas resultantes de um intenso diálogo interno em torno da inovação, que se tem caracterizado pela maneira alargada, inclusiva e participativa como decorre.

Sobre a Morais Leitão

A Morais Leitão, Galvão Teles, Soares da Silva & Associados é uma sociedade com uma longa experiência de liderança no mercado português. De renome internacional, conquistou uma reputação de excelência entre pares e clientes em relação ao elevado rigor técnico dos serviços prestados, aos valores éticos e à abordagem inovadora das questões, traduzida no reconhecimento sucessivo e consistente em prémios atribuídos à sociedade e aos seus advogados a título individual.

Através da rede Morais Leitão Legal Circle, a Morais Leitão apresenta uma equipa de mais de 250 advogados, a partir de escritórios em Portugal (Lisboa, Porto e Funchal), Angola, Hong Kong, Macau e Moçambique.

The BPCC Summer Garden Party

BuzzStreets: a nova aquisição do Manchester City

A startup portuguesa vai desenvolver a aplicação de mobilidade do campeão inglês, que permitirá não só facilitar a vida aos adeptos nos dias de jogo, como criar uma maior ligação com o clube

O que têm em comum os softwares que gerem a mobilidade das 120 mil pessoas que circulam todos os dias em Canary Wharf, em Londres, dos hospitais da Universidade de Coimbra, de vários aeroportos e centros comerciais e, a partir do próximo ano, dos adeptos do Manchester City? Todos eles foram, ou estão a ser, desenvolvidos por uma startup portuguesa, a BuzzStreets, empresa que se dedica ao mapeamento e navegação no interior de grandes edifícios.

O contrato com o Manchester City foi assinado em maio, após um processo de seleção de cinco meses, no qual estiveram envolvidos 350 candidatos. A BuzzStreets acabou por ser uma das dez empresas selecionadas. Todas elas irão desenvolver tecnologias diferentes que depois serão integradas numa só aplicação. A startup portuguesa ficou responsável por toda a área de navegação e mapeamento, ou seja, da mobilidade dos adeptos. “A ideia do clube é, através da app, proporcionar uma melhor experiência aos seus adeptos”, esclarece João Fernandes, CEO e fundador da BuzzStreets.

Com a tecnologia da empresa portuguesa, os fãs do clube de Pep Guardiola conseguem encontrar todos os serviços de transporte, com rotas e horários, disponíveis nos dias dos jogos, independentemente do local onde se encontrem. Caso prefiram levar o carro, podem, através da app, fazer a marcação de um lugar de garagem no interior do estádio. A aplicação leva-o até esse lugar e, posteriormente, faz a navegação indoor até à porta de entrada correspondente à sua cadeira no recinto.

Além da utilidade para os adeptos, a aplicação terá um potencial enorme para gerar receitas extra para o clube, pois consegue interagir diretamente com as pessoas antes, durante e depois dos jogos. “A meia hora antes do jogo, os 15 minutos do intervalo e os 15 ou 30 minutos após o desafio, podem valer muito dinheiro para um clube como o City”, explica João Fernandes.

Pode, por exemplo, dizer ao adepto qual o bar menos congestionado durante o intervalo e conduzi-lo até ao local. Promover produtos da loja do clube, etc. Pode ainda convidar um adepto a visitar os balneários, a descer ao relvado, ou fazer um upgrade para um camarote. As possibilidades de reação em tempo real são inúmeras. Caso a aplicação resulte no Manchester City, existe uma forte possibilidade que ela venha a ser reproduzida nos outros clubes que pertencem ao dono do campeão inglês, o multimilionário xeque árabe Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, que controla os clubes de futebol New York City (EUA) e Melbourne City (Austrália).

Além de conseguir este acordo com o Manchester City, a BuzzStreets está a fechar um contrato com um dos maiores hospitais de Londres, cujo nome João Fernandes não quer revelar antes de o processo estar concluído, mas admite que “é um dos mais emblemáticos da cidade.

“A navegação indoor é uma tecnologia que todas as cidades terão a funcionar dentro de poucos anos”
João Fernandes
CEO da BuzzStreets

Será um contrato que nos dará uma projeção muito grande”. A BuzzStreets está também a desenvolver a aplicação para o Centro Hospitalar da Universidade de Coimbra, que deverá entrar em funcionamento muito em breve.

E qual a aplicabilidade de uma app como esta num hospital? Um estudo recente, feito no Reino Unido, mostrou que o serviço de saúde perde cerca de mil milhões de libras por ano com as pessoas que faltam às consultas. Entre as principais razões que conduzem a essas faltas estão as deslocações – na sua maioria, pessoas mais debilitadas que têm receio de conduzir ou desconhecem os sistemas de transportes –, e a dificuldade em encontrar um determinado serviço ou especialidade dentro do hospital, o que pode criar uma situação de stresse que leva a pessoa a falhar a consulta. E, mais do que a perda de dinheiro, essas faltas vão engrossando as cada vez mais longas listas de espera dos hospitais. Para resolver este problema, a BuzzStreets quer trazer o paciente desde casa até à porta da especialidade onde tem a consulta ou o tratamento. “A nossa aplicação avisa o utilizador no dia anterior ao da consulta. Mostramos os serviços de transporte disponíveis e os respetivos horários. Já dentro do hospital, a app dá as direções à pessoa, tal como um GPS, até ela chegar ao local exato da consulta”, explica João Fernandes.

O interesse por este tipo de serviço tem vindo a crescer e João Fernandes acredita que estes novos contratos irão dar uma maior notoriedade à BuzzStreets, o que poderá fazer de 2019 “o ano em que iremos crescer em força”. Apesar deste sucesso, a sua vida de empreendedor nem sempre lhe correu bem. O caminho para chegar até aqui foi longo e atribulado. Antes da BuzzStreets, João Fernandes já tinha formado outras empresas que acabaram por falhar. “Endividei-me até à quinta casa, mas não parei de tentar”, afirma o gestor. A própria BuzzStreets nasceu com o modelo de negócio errado. A primeira ideia foi a de criar uma solução para melhorar o tráfego em Lisboa. “Nessa altura não existia Waze e o Google Maps ainda estava no princípio. Não havia qualquer informação em tempo real para os condutores. Apercebi-me de que Lisboa tinha, sem contar com acidentes, uma média de 600 ocorrências por dia que afetavam a circulação automóvel, como as obras na via, reparação de sinaléticas, etc.”, lembra.

A ideia de João Fernandes era conseguir agregar toda essa informação e dá-la em tempo real às pessoas que circulavam em Lisboa, de forma a que estas pudessem escolher outro itinerário. Apresentou a ideia aos serviços de mobilidade da Câmara Municipal de Lisboa, que se mostrou muito interessada. “Na própria câmara tinham dificuldade em centralizar todas estas ocorrências, porque muitas delas eram de departamentos diferentes. A comunicação era feita por papel e não era atualizada em tempo real. A aplicação era também uma mais-valia para eles.” A app chegou a ser lançada em 2014, numa espécie de projeto-piloto. Em poucas semanas, a BuzzStreets conseguiu mais de 7 mil utilizadores.

O projeto parecia ter arrancado em força, mas depressa João Fernandes se apercebeu de que o modelo de negócio não era sustentável. “Todos a queriam utilizar, mas ninguém a queria pagar.” Tentámos junto da Câmara Municipal do Porto e a resposta foi a mesma. Até que fomos contactados pelo Ayuntamiento de Madrid que, tal como os outros, se mostrou muito interessado no projeto. Mas, passados uns meses, a resposta acabou por ser a mesma da de Lisboa e do Porto.

Quando tudo parecia perdido e já quase pronto para pôr mais uma ideia no lixo, eis que, em 2015, surge um contacto de Londres, mais propriamente da empresa que gere a área de Canary Wharf, uma zona da capital inglesa onde se concentram as sedes dos grandes bancos e de muitas das maiores empresas daquele país. É uma verdadeira cidade dentro de Londres, com cerca de 40 hectares, para onde se deslocam todos os dias mais de 120 mil pessoas. A sociedade que gere este espaço, a Canary Wharf Group, quis melhorar todos os serviços naquela zona e procurou empresas para criar tecnologia que permitisse uma melhor gestão do espaço e dos serviços.

Acharam que a tecnologia desenvolvida pela BuzzSttreets se adaptava às suas pretensões e contactaram a empresa portuguesa. “Nem hesitei. Peguei nas malas e fui para Londres com a minha equipa”, lembra.

Para criar uma solução que fosse ao encontro da resolução dos problemas de mobilidade da zona, estiveram durante quatro meses a estudar o local, com vários inquéritos de rua para perceber as verdadeiras dificuldades de quem se move naquele espaço. Afinal, existem em Canary Wharf 37 arranha-céus e cinco grandes centros comerciais.

Fizeram primeiro um projeto-piloto e, em 2017, lançaram a aplicação de navegação indoor que está agora em uso naquele local e que consegue guiar as pessoas desde o momento em que entram em Canary Wharf até ao escritório ou loja que pretendem encontrar, estejam estes numa cave ou no 20º piso de qualquer edifício.


Os serviços de navegação são, hoje em dia, dos mais comuns entre todas as aplicações que estão disponíveis. No entanto, até agora, a BuzzStreets é das primeiras startups a oferecer navegação dentro de portas, onde não existe GPS para dar indicações.

Como funciona então este serviço? Esta é a matéria sobre a qual João Fernandes não gosta de abrir muito o jogo. “Como o GPS não funciona dentro das estruturas, nós tivemos de desenvolver uma tecnologia indoor, que passa pelo uso de wi-fi, com triangulação dos beacons (bluetooth low energy). Desta forma, sabemos onde a pessoa está e levamo-la onde ela quer ir”, explica.

No entanto, como a BuzzStreets dá informação ao utilizador em vários pisos diferentes, como é que sabe se a pessoa desceu dois ou três andares no elevador? “Esse é o grande segredo do nosso negócio. Já tivemos clientes que vieram ter connosco, porque os nossos concorrentes não conseguem fazer essa transição entre pisos.”

A BuzzStreets apresenta-se como uma empresa pioneira na navegação de interiores, um mercado que, para o gestor, “ainda é uma incógnita”, mas que, no futuro, irá estar presente em todas as cidades. “Temos muitos potenciais clientes que estão a ver como é que isto vai funcionar, para depois avançarem também com soluções deste tipo”, diz.

Para João Fernandes já não há volta a dar: “É uma tecnologia que todas as cidades vão ter a funcionar dentro de poucos anos. A mobilidade das pessoas passará da rua para as grandes estruturas, como centros comerciais, museus, hospitais, entre outros.”

Após várias tentativas falhadas e um enorme endividamento, João Fernandes parece estar no caminho certo com uma tecnologia inovadora. Afinal, como disse Henry Ford, um dos homens mais disruptivos do princípio do século XX, “o falhanço é simplesmente a oportunidade de começar outra vez, de forma mais inteligente”.

Texto Paulo M. Santos
Fotos Paulo Jorge Figueiredo
Revista Exame

Drone software company unveils plan to invest €1.1M in Castelo Branco

Albatroz Engenharia, a Lisbon-based company specialising in robotics, aeronautics, software, mechanics and electronics, is to set up shop in Castelo Branco, in north-central Portugal, investing some €1.1 million over the next two years, it announced.

Gomes Mota, a company director, explained at a news conference that the unit is to start out at the city’s Centro de Empresas Inovadoras (CEI – Centre of Innovative Businesses) before moving to a hangar at the local aerodrome.

Albatroz, which was founded in March 2006, has a flagship airborne product, Power Line Maintenance Inspection (PLMI) that uses interactive tools and sensors to provide results in real time, helping to improve service quality and reduce maintenance costs.

At an early stage, the unit in Castelo Branco is to recruit a team of six employees in the fields of informatics, aeronautics, electronics, mechanics and electrical engineering. Mota declined to make further projections but suggested more hires were likely.

Futuras instalações no hangar do Aeroclube de Castelo Branco

“If it were only to recruit six people we would not be investing 1.1 million euros in two years,” he stressed.

Luís Correia, the local mayor, hailed the announcement as “an important moment” for the municipality, following its “strategic” investment in the local aerodrome and facilities to attract businesses.

He also highlighted the links with the Polytechnic Institute of Castelo Branco (IPCB), which has invested in the field of aeronautics, especially drones.

As well as its flagship product, Albatroz aims to develop other innovative solutions of high-added value aimed at the needs of customers. In addition to products and software, it provides data analysis services.

Other prototypes include a tool for railway inspection, a 3D modelling system for archaeology or virtual scenarios, and a laser measurement tool (LMT). Solutions developed by the company can also be used in preventing and fighting forest fires, and in geological surveys and mining.

Images: Albatroz Engenharia