Elena Tzavara, owner of XpatAthens, speaks to GreekTV about the website that enriches everyday life for expats, tourists and locals in Athens, Greece.
Q. How did you become involved in XpatAthens?
A. At the time there were three of us, and we had always been followers of the original XpatAthens – it’s one of those sites that you bookmark as useful and start following even though you may not remember who referred you to it! In late 2011, we saw an article on the site that XpatAthens was up for sale and it wasn’t long before we met with the owner at the time to discuss details. Sometimes in life things ‘just happen,’ like you’re on the right street corner at the right time – XpatAthens for us was one of those things. Despite juggling other jobs, businesses, starting families… all the puzzle pieces fit and we took over as the new owners around Christmas 2011. Since then, we have completely transformed the site – from expanding the available information and resources, enlarging our advertiser base, offering a range of courses and events, and improving content for our audience – XpatAthens has become the ‘go to’ place for English information on Athens.
Q. According to your site, XpatAthens is an essential resource for the English-speaking community in Athens. The site brings “news, information and inspiration.” How does the inspiration part come in?
A. XpatAthens is so much more than just information. Apart from keeping viewers up-to-date on what’s happening in the city, we are interested in connecting the community and improving our overall experience of living in Athens. We host an expanding range of social events, learning courses (like photography), a book club, and so on, so people can experience the opportunities of living here from a range of perspectives.
“XpatAthens has become the ‘go to’ place for English information on Athens.”
We also take a particular point of view on ‘post-crisis Athens,’ which can be seen in our mix of content. We love to feature success stories, positive news, and a ‘hopeful’ perspective on the future of this great city. As expats who have chosen to make Athens our home, we have a unique point-of-view on life here, and an important part of our mission is to share the ‘good stuff’ with our audience.
And we’re making improvements in this regard too. In early 2015 we will unveil a new branding concept for XpatAthens, including new visuals and a cool new website. We will use the concept of ‘Life In Athens’ behind our new branding to reflect our holistic approach to the expat experience.
Q. How would you describe the expat community in Athens? What kind of voice or influence do they have in the city today?
“As expats who have chosen to make Athens our home, we have a unique point-of-view on life here, and an important part of our mission is to share the ‘good stuff’ with our audience.”
A. Athens is not considered a large ‘expat city’, so unfortunately none of the global expat studies include Athens. These statistics are also not carefully tracked by official census numbers. What we know is that the English speaking community is very strong and very active – our numbers show a strong following (15,000+ visitors monthly on our website and 3500+ followers on Facebook). These individuals range from professional and diplomatic backgrounds, to those working in education, tourism, small business owners, entrepreneurs, etc – the expat population is as diverse as Athens itself!
Although Athens has a very diverse expat community, our experience shows that the most represented countries are the UK, US, Canada, Australia, South Africa and other EU countries.
Q. What kind of services can people find on XpatAthens? How do you define and plan content and services?
A. Since XpatAthens has been serving the English-speaking community of Athens since 2007, we have developed a rich diversity in terms of services. We stay well connected to our members and to the community. We have ongoing conversations and receive constant feedback from our readers on their preferences, and plan our services based on their needs and how they use XpatAthens. With the launch of our new website in early 2015, we’re moving away from the feeling / look of being a ‘newspaper’ toward a fresh and modern ‘home for English speakers’. Our new website will have maintain current material but will be more focused and user-friendly. It will include:
- Up-to-date information about life in the Athens, as well as city & community happenings.
- Classifieds including real estate, employment, personals, and items for sale.
- Directory of businesses and services, community organisations and charities.
- Local market of artists and designers showcasing and selling their work.
Q. Can you comment on the general resources available to expats living in Athens today? How does XpatAthens stand apart from other expat sites out there for people living in the city?
A. There are a growing number of specialised, niche sites and Facebook groups dedicated to specific aspects of life in Athens – and we love that. Our aim is to bring all of this under one roof, in one easy-to-use portal. We believe in connecting the community and giving everyone access to the information, resources and services they need and want.
Q. Can you mention some of the events or services you are most excited about?
A. We’re really excited about the launch of our new website. XpatAthens has been a big part of the English speaking community inAthens and we think our new website will be very well received!
We’re also working on a new XpatAthens Member Card that will provide cardholders with discounted access to various businesses and services around the city – a first for Athens!
On the fun side, we are looking forward to our annual party at the Grande Bretagne in March where we all get together to enjoy great food, music, drinks and dancing!
Q. What are your plans for the future of XpatAthens?
A. XpatAthens is taking on new heights and we’re really excited about what the future holds. We believe in Athens and we believe in the value we provide to the expat community.
We’re keeping busy to improve what we do and how we do it – and we’d love to see our small team grow in the coming years.