The Monocle Minute

Today’s top stories, opinion and opportunities
Monday 3 July 2017

Property

Rental reinvention

Uncle is shaking up the rental market with a radical approach to service.

Property development in cities was a hot topic at Monocle’s Quality of Life conference in Berlin as speakers challenged the conventional wisdom on everything from the rental market to how we build for an ageing society. During a panel titled “Property’s next move”, Ryan Prince, the founder of Uncle, argued for a more flexibility in the rental market and taking the “‘lord’ out of ‘landlord’". Prince explained that Uncle, which provides a property management service, has found success by regarding its tenants first and foremost as customers and focusing on service. It’s a seemingly simple idea but in cities where many landlords are only concerned about the bottom line, it’s a radical approach.

Business

City slickers

Is the secret to start-up success a supportive city?

The city where you launch your start-up can make or break your business. That was the consensus between entrepreneurs Pip Jamieson, Ben Lewin, Lorenz Aschoff and Valentin Vodev, who took part in a panel at Monocle’s Quality of Life conference on starting your own business. Though the start-up founders work in different fields – from online social networks to watchmaking and bicycle design – each said that the city in which they worked contributed in some way to their success. Whether it was Berlin’s affordable office space or Vienna’s streamlined mobility offering inspiration, cities can sometimes play a surprising role in giving businesses a boost. It’s an important lesson for city leaders wanting to attract talent; they should be assessing what their cities can offer those just getting started.

Diplomacy

Image: Getty Images

To Russia with love

Vladimir Putin’s receiving his new best friend for a visit: Xi Jinping. Donald who?

Chinese president Xi Jinping will stop off in Russia today on his way to the G20 meeting in Hamburg. With the West preoccupied with President Trump’s budding bromance with the Russian leader, they may have missed that Xi and Putin have actually been spending some under-the-radar quality time together – this will be their third meeting this year. Mutual dependence underpins the chummy relationship. Russian gas will be critical for coal-powered China to meet its Paris climate goals. It is expected that contracts worth billions will be signed and a new Sino-Russian Treaty of Friendship for the next three years will be announced. But China’s public is more keen on watching Putin’s charm offensive this time around, following his last visit to Beijing in May where he played an impromptu Soviet-era piece on a piano while awaiting Xi.

Hospitality

Image: Getty Images

In the game

Japan’s government is floating the idea of turning big cruise ships into hotels during the Olympics.

Japan’s surge in tourist numbers has officials worried about a shortage of hotel rooms during the 2020 Olympics. The government is now considering a new idea: turning big cruise ships into floating hotels during the Games. Last week the Cabinet Office and several ministries began debating legal changes that would let ships anchor for long periods at nine wharves in Tokyo and Yokohama; also in the running are locations in Kawasaki to the southwest and Chiba to the east. For the past four Olympic games – in Vancouver, London, Sochi and Rio de Janeiro – ship-hotels have been a popular way of accommodating a big influx of visitors without creating a hotel-industry bubble. With 40 million visitors expected in Japan by 2020, Tokyo would fall short by 15,000 rooms, according to Japanese bank Mizuho’s estimates. Government officials are eager to test the idea for another reason: cruise ships could be used as temporary shelters after a major earthquake or other natural disaster.

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