Try finding a hotel room in Malmö on Eurovision weekend and your eyes may water at the cost. One well-known chain has more than doubled the price of even the most basic room with rates starting at over 2,000 kronor ($310) per night. Malmö’s hostels have long been snapped up by budget travellers leaving many Eurovision fanatics with few options.
But a number of entrepreneurial Malmö residents are undercutting the hotels by opening their homes to Eurovision tourists and turning a profit in the process.
“For me it was an easy way to make some fast cash,” Åsa Lempert tells The Local at her western Malmö home, which she will soon vacate for three Finnish ladies, who replied to her advert on the accommodation rentals website Airbnb.
“The three Finns told me they were huge Eurovision fans and for them, going to the final every year is a way of life. Plenty of people are coming without tickets and just want to be in the host city for the atmosphere.”
Lempert, who stands to make 2,400 kronor from her Nordic guests, plans to escape Malmö's expected mid-May madness for a more sedate time at her country house. She’s not even sure if she'll watch the music extravaganza which is currently enveloping her home city.
I’m planning to spend the weekend with my boyfriend in the countryside. We may watch Eurovision and of course hope that Finland do well,” she laughs.
Johanna Möllberg also stands to make a tidy sum after deciding to vacate her apartment, also in west Malmö, to welcome four French Eurovision tourists. Her motivation was simple - money.
“I needed the money as I’m going to Thailand on holiday next Christmas. As soon as I put my ad online I had three inquiries in the space of two days," she explains.
“Luckily my apartment is quite large so these four French guys from Paris will have lots of space. I’m going to make €3,400 ($4,400) and I’m going to stay with a friend for a few days which is more than worth it.”
Aja Guldhammer Henderson, Head of Operations Nordics & Netherlands for Airbnb, told The Local that interest in Malmö has skyrocketed since the city was chosen as host city for Eurovision 2013.
“Right now Malmö is record-breaking. We’re experiencing four times the amount of bookings for the city on Eurovision weekend than we do normally. In the last few weeks we’ve added over 100 properties alone as interest is so high," she says.
The company charges a service fee for every booking made on its site where users upload a profile and set the rental rate for their property.
Guldhammer Henderson says that nearby Copenhagen is also enjoying a spike in bookings due to Eurovision. She adds that the Swedish market has been growing rapidly for Airbnb, in no small part due to the flurry of interest in Malmö.
“Eurovision is a very unique event that is generating huge interest in the city and will only increase in the next few weeks,” she says.
It’s not only the online giants who are cashing in on Eurovision fever. Lund based Red Apple Apartments is also cleaning up thanks to the festivities soon to kick off in its neighbouring city.
The service works by offering customers furnished apartments, often vacated by locals for a few days, to business travellers and tourists. Just like competitors Airbnb, they charge a commission fee and Eurovision is proving to be good for business.
“We started taking bookings at the end of last year for both Malmö and Lund. There has been a lot of interest, particularly from Spain,” Red Apple Apartments Supply Manager Suzanne Bachman tells The Local.
Few Swedes appear to be availing of the service though, said Bachman, with the exception of broadcaster Sveriges Television (SVT) which rented apartments for staff working on Eurovision.
“Swedes tend to be quite organized and arrange their hotel well in advance," says Bachman.
“Rates vary from around €100 to €300 a night, depending on how many people are staying in the flat. We have taken steps to ensure there are no inflated prices as some people just want to cash in.”
One customer who is glad that Eurovision is coming to town is student Felix Myrgren. He is renting out his apartment, which is close to the Malmö Arena venue, for nine days to a team of Dutch journalists.
“I’m charging €300 a night which right now is great as I’m saving all the money I can get before I resume my studies,” he says, beaming.
Myrgen admits he wasn’t a fan of the Eurovision Song Contest but that all changed once his future guests from the Netherlands got in contact.
“Normally I couldn’t be bothered with the Eurovision but now I love it,” he quips.
With thousands of euro to look forward to courtesy of the annual Euro-pop fest you can hardly blame him for the change of heart.