The 2019 guide to
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Your 2019 guide to the serviced apartment industry, from ASAP and The Business Travel Magazine
20 [ THE 2019 GUIDE TO SERVICED APARTMENTS ] WRITTEN BY Catherine Chetwynd EDITOR Andy Hoskins PUBLISHER David Clare EDITORIAL DIRECTOR Steve Hartridge CREATIVE DIRECTOR Matt Bonner DESIGNER Ross Clifford PRODUCTION MANAGER Clare Hunter PRODUCTION CONTROLLER Steve Hunter MANAGING DIRECTOR Martin Steady
The 2019 Guide to Serviced Apartments is brought to you by BMI Publishing, producers of The Business Travel Magazine. Print ISSN 1754-8543. BMI PUBLISHING LTD Suffolk House, George Street, Croydon, Surrey, CR9 1SR, UK. Tel: 020 8649 7233 email@example.com bmipublishing.co.uk
or many years the serviced apartment sector has repeatedly been referred to as 'maturing', as if it was a relatively new concept, but is it time to ditch that label? There are now over one million serviced apartment units around the world, while long-established providers are launching sub-brands and the world's major hotel groups get in on the act. There is impressive innovation from within the sector at the same time as 'disruptors' make their mark on it. Moreover, companies large and small continue to integrate serviced apartments into their travel programmes. You'll discover all about the sector's evolution in this, the seventh annual guide produced by The Business Travel Magazine in collaboration with the Association of Serviced Apartment Providers. â—†
While every effort is made to ensure accuracy, BMI Publishing Ltd cannot be held responsible for any errors or omissions. Images courtesy of suppliers as indicated and also sourced from istockphoto.com and bigstock.com
Setting the serviced apartment scene
08 WHO DOES WHAT
Defining the product differences
Discover the economies of apartments
How to manage your long-stay needs
Taking things to the next level
The players shaking up the sector
The rise of the sector's loyalty schemes
Andy Hoskins, Editor The Business Travel Magazine
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A selection of ASAP members
The sector in numbers
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TOGETHER As the sector continues to grow, providers are taking a collaborative approach to promote their interests
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Procurement is increasingly being managed by agencies that are already managing their clients’ hotel spend”
t's one million and counting in the world of serviced apartments. In the last two years their number has leapt to nearly 1,023,000 worldwide, with an additional 73,570 corporate housing units, in more than 13,100 locations, according to the latest Global Serviced Apartments Industry Report (GSAIR). Compared to 826,759 and 70,300 units respectively in 2016/17, this growth of 23.7% is a real feather in the cap of a dynamic sector. Supply and demand are forever linked and more than half (56.75%) the companies polled for the report are using serviced apartments for business travel and 39.7% of them dedicate up to onefifth of their accommodation budget to extended stay. Better still, they are making savings of up to 29% against hotel spend. However, “The rate of growth in corporate adoption of serviced apartments has slowed, perhaps because it has reached a temporary ceiling: 56% of corporates agree or strongly agree their serviced apartments use has gone as far as it can based on current needs and supply,” TAS’s Chief Executive Charlie McCrow stated in the report. Agents feature large, with 36.84% of corporates mandating them for bookings. “Procurement is increasingly being managed by agencies that are already managing their clients’ hotel spend, thereby reaffirming wider acceptance of the serviced apartment option within the supply chain,” states GSAIR. Using agents also allows cost and traveller tracking to appear in the same reporting tools, improving MI and duty of care.
According to a survey of the sector in Europe by hospitality consultancy HVS, the most common operating model is management agreements “owing to the more flexible structure and reduced risk from an operator’s perspective”. This also reflects the importance of “using structures that sustain the rapid expansion needs of brands”. Leases and franchise deals are the other options. Gem Travel books on average 500 nights for a client in the IT sector, mostly in the UK, many in Reading and Gothenburg, and have been using serviced apartments for about three years. “We book them for travellers who are staying for more than a week – and one is in Gothenburg for a year,” says accommodation programme manager, Jessica Walsh. “Travellers get more space than in a hotel room and can eat more healthily, and the company gets better value, especially for long stays.” Walsh used to book the accommodation direct but now goes through TAS. “They are easy to work with and really thorough. We send an email enquiry and they come back the same day with some options and details such as how far the apartment is from the train station,” she says. Problem solving is also good: “The other option is to go through Expedia but if anything goes wrong, we don’t get the service.” The Association of Serviced Apartment Providers (ASAP) made Quality Assessment (QA) compulsory for its members from August 2018, ensuring that all organisations sporting the ASAP logo had gone through the same rigorous evaluation of their physical and service standards, thereby boosting user confidence.
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“We anticipated some members would go and we lost about 30 but at least half of them have already asked to come back,” says Chief Executive James Foice. “It was not fair to those that had gone through the accreditation when we were also representing a large proportion that hadn’t. It will take us a good few months to get back to where we were but I’m very positive we will achieve that,” he says. And as the association’s five-year plan illustrates, membership is about to become even more worthwhile. Details will be announced in December. At the core of this is the recognition that ASAP is a global body, and to that end is working in partnership with US association CHPA. First off is a series of podcasts to look at the future of the sector. “And we will be announcing something very exciting in the coming few months,” says Foice. Likeminded bodies will become chapters of the association. First in line is ASAP Amsterdam and talks with members in Dublin and Barcelona are ongoing. The publication of an online directory is in the offing as well. The technology has been built and member organisations had loaded their details in readiness for demonstration at the annual ASAP Conference. The association is
also forging a relationship with UK Hospitality, successor to the British Hospitality Association (BHA). “We are exploring opportunities to complement its numbers and reach, and it is helping us with lobbying in the UK,” says Foice. “It is a great step forward for us and Chief Executive Kate Nicholls is very keen to develop that relationship.” This positive attitude removes the former perceived competitive element between BHA and ASAP, which some members suggested prevented constructive collaboration, and ASAP will still be able to partner with UK Hospitality. This cooperation will prove particularly useful where there are lobbying opportunities regarding the long-running argument about business rates versus council tax. Aparthotels fit within C1 planning permission in the same way as hotels but at the other end of the spectrum are the residential community, self-catering products and long-stay accommodation, which are often treated differently to short-term options. Serviced apartments with stays of longer than 90 days fit in this bracket but sometimes they also have short-term business – the world of C1. “They then enter the muddy waters of the short-term economy and this raises difficulties associated with Airbnb,” says Foice. This is causing problems in some areas of the country, where the council has asked any accommodation operator that appears to be short-letting to stop trading. Although all ASAP members in these locations are exceeding the 90-day threshold, the council is bracketing them with short-let business sold through booking.com and Airbnb. “The advisers are using accreditation as the differentiator; this vindicates everything we have said about QA,” explains Foice. “Creating a licence for members is going to be impossible in the UK, so we have to find a middle ground – and that is on the back of Brexit regulations, employment opportunities, tax… We will focus on the common denominators and hope the UK Hospitality’s lobbying machine will help us do that,” he says. The future is bright for this fast-growing and dynamic sector that is backed by an adept membership organisation. ◆
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In a fragmented sector it is vital buyers and travellers understand what they are paying for
t wasn’t so long ago that the term ‘serviced apartment’ described almost any accommodation that wasn’t a hotel and was used for longstay business or leisure travel in cities. But with the rise and rise of aparthotels, emergence of micro apartments and increasing role of brands, this is no longer enough, and the fact that the industry is still wrangling – competing, even – over definitions says much about the difficulty of pinning them down and does little for those who use them. In 2014, HVS and Serviced Apartment News (SAN) announced a charter, which included a definition, while GSAIR set out its stall with definitions in its 2015/16 report. And now ASAP is on the definitive march: “We have targeted a need to have a recognised terminology for the sector,” says Chief Executive James Foice. “This conversation has been going on for many years. We are working with organisations worldwide and through CHPA, ASAP and our representatives in Germany, we are looking at a way of creating a visual understanding of the concepts they
operate. We assigned terminology that would be reflected globally and that hasn’t been achievable because in Germany there are boarding houses and residences; in the US, extended stay and corporate housing, and in Europe we have aparthotels,” Foice explains. “We are proposing a visual representation of what a spectrum of accommodation might look like and we hope to develop an icon consumers can hover over to see a description of what an apartment in Germany looks like compared to London, for example. This would be far easier to understand.” Illustrations work well for Gem Travel’s Jessica Walsh, who receives them from TAS when it is suggesting accommodation: “Images are good quality, too, so we understand what we are buying,” she says. This chimes with the view of co-founder of Cycas Hospitality, John Wagner. “Regardless of what we call them, the
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important thing is that every property that comes under the serviced apartment or aparthotel label differs from hotels in two key ways. The first is that all rooms have a kitchen and the second is that they all target customers staying longer than the average hotel guest,” he says. “The important thing is to help raise awareness of these alternative styles of extended-stay accommodation, rather than fixate too much on the names.” Definitions also differentiate serviced apartments from the sharing economy: “It helps clarification, provides standardisation and gives assurance,” says SACO's Chief Executive, Stephen Hanton. “And it distinguishes between the professionally operated accommodation and the true sharing economy. It doesn’t suggest that the sharing economy is better or worse, it just establishes a standard that is consistent across operators and requested by B2B buyers.” Serviced apartment now tends to be
used as an umbrella term to cover any discrete living accommodation, where the services provided range from a 24-hour reception, daily cleaning, a welcome food pack and communal spaces, to no reception and weekly cleaning. As stated in the GSAIR report, “Part of the appeal of serviced apartments is that no products are ever completely identical. Unlike homogenous hotel products, we believe that the inherent individuality of serviced apartments is one of the major factors in the sector’s success.” Aparthotels, as the name suggests, tend to be hotel-like in design and construction and are often purpose-built, although interesting and historic buildings have also been put to the purpose, as Londonbased Native is proving. In general, these properties have receptions, F&B that ranges from bar to full-service restaurant, smaller bedrooms and kitchenettes. In the past five years, lobbies have got bigger, catering to
The important thing is to help raise awareness of these alternative styles of accommodation, rather than fixate on the names”
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Aparthotels are often bookable on the GDS systems not least because many of them are run by international hotel chains”
those who like to work, read or socialise in communal spaces. Restaurants have also entered the fray, and are often run by local businesses with local sourcing – community can play a major role; as have organised group activities such as running, yoga or meditation. Length of stay is flexible, ranging from one night to one year. For example, typical at SACO’s The Cannon is 26 nights, while it is 10 nights at Leman Locke. Aparthotels are bookable on GDS systems, not least because many of them are run by international hotel chains. This similarity to hotels not only makes them a familiar commodity but also
means travel managers can book them in a traditional fashion and keep their hands on valuable management information, removing a much pilloried barrier to using serviced apartments. Broadband/wifi is a given in all models from large luxury such as Cheval to microapartments like Stow-Away, and as is evidenced by SACO’s goal to roll-out super-fast broadband (100Mb up and down) across its owned estate. Corporate housing is generally a term used in the US for residential apartments that are taken over for corporate use according to requirement and have guest services and cleaning. They are fully furnished and equipped with white goods, entertainment and wifi. In these properties stays of six to 12 months are not uncommon, with even longer periods catered for – and even including the whole family. Paradoxically, the so-called ‘extended stay’ residency involves a shorter stay. In the UK, these are referred to as residences or serviced apartments, causing further puzzlement. Designed like a residential block of flats, accommodation ranges from economy to luxury and operators take as many as they need, so in some buildings, all are run by one operator, in others not. ◆
[ Category definitions ] Micro-apartments are the latest innovation. With rooms as small as 18m2 (some in Stüdyo Paddington are smaller at 9m2), these tend to have no kitchen but large communal space with shared cooking facilities, and are centrally located making them ideal for a (really) short stay. Corporate housing/serviced apartments may nor may not have a reception (Cheval has a 24-hour service), but no bar/restaurant, room service or gym, although some arrange access to fitness facilities. The sector features full kitchens, washing machine and sitting room, and at the upper end, daily cleaning. Aparthotels usually have a 24-hour reception and the communal lobby is getting bigger. Sometimes there is a bar and/or restaurant; and sometimes free breakfast (Staybridge Suites, Residence Inn, Hyatt House) and social evenings. Gyms and kitchenettes (microwave/grill, hob, dishwasher, fridge) are common. Cleaning is generally weekly unless requested. Laundry facilities tend to be communal rather than in-room.
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Flexibility from corporates and suppliers is shaping a market that works for everyone
SACO - WITTENBERG
he principles of negotiating hold true: companies with a high volume of room nights have greater leverage on serviced apartment rates than those who either have few travellers using them or lots of business but in disparate locations which one supplier cannot cater for. However, those negotiating through an agent do have the additional advantage of aggregate clout: “We are able to negotiate attractive rates for our clients due to our considerable buying power, regardless of how many bookings they make,” says Commercial Director for SilverDoor, Stuart Winstone. “When a client requires a substantial
number of room nights in a specific location, that certainly helps us when we work with our property partners to ensure the client receives the best value.” The benchmark for negotiating is generally 100 nights per year but there are also other factors that come into play. “We are happy to commit to negotiate at 100 nights-plus but it also depends on the building size, location and the demand pattern of the property,” explains Paula Cullen, Director of Sales and Distribution for Native. Suppliers build in flexibility to ensure they are able to look after long-standing and/or regular customers. “We encourage corporates to discuss their requirements
with us and we will do our utmost to accommodate them – with both the desired rate and booking channel,” adds Cullen. She continues: “Being a boutique operator, we can also look at corporate contribution across the entire portfolio and will therefore give a discount on a national basis, rather than purely on a property. This will have increased value to the corporate buyer as our portfolio footprint increases across the UK.”
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be midscale and economy travellers. In others, where the profile tends to be predominantly leadership and senior executives, then the programme is upscale and midscale. Jacobsen expects to get better deals because of the volume of AIG’s business, because the demand is spread throughout the week and due to the fact that apartments are well integrated into the firm’s accommodation programme. “Length of stay is partly why the apartment programme has been so successful because we have sufficient apartments within the mix – it is not just an appendix,” he says. “The flip side is that hotels become very competitive because they know that our travellers can easily move into apartments, which are more economically priced.” Jacobsen clearly gets value for his accommodation spend. Oakwood, meanwhile, simply says it works with clients on an individual basis. It stresses: “We focus on delivering value to that client through our comprehensive programme management, robust reporting and flexible inventory options. In each case we work in partnership with our clients to develop a solution that is right for them based upon their specific needs.” ◆
The benchmark for negotiating is generally 100 nights per year but factors such as building size, location and the demand pattern of the property are also important”
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Adagio also starts at 100 nights for a negotiated deal while smaller requests are handled by a dedicated account manager, “who will try to find the best suitable solution for each of their clients”, says Director of European Operations, Anja Müller. Cheval’s corporate starting point is 500 room nights, Monday to Thursday, over 12 months. “We will also consider individuals, people who are staying for two years, and we look at some form of incentive for them to book with us,” says the company's Director, George Westwell. At the weighty end of the scale, AIG has between 1,500 and 42,000 annual room nights in certain markets, making the insurer a very attractive customer. “I have to have a minimum of 300 room nights in a market before I start negotiating a supplier contract,” says AIG's Global Accommodation Manager, Jan Jacobsen. But it does depend on supply. “In Dublin, the portfolio I have is far too big compared to our volumes because the market is so busy and there is so little supply; I need that to get access to the inventory.” In London, however, the opposite is true. “I have fewer accommodation providers in the programme to drive the volume up,” he says. This applies in all the group’s key markets. The number of suppliers Jacobsen has is also subject to the types of traveller AIG has in any one market. The organisation has three tiers, upscale, midscale and economy, and in some markets that might only
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Serviced apartment companies are united in their desire to smooth the booking process for corporates
he hot potato of the serviced apartment industry is booking tools, but as technology develops and bookers and travellers increasingly expect to run their personal and professional lives online, the pressure is on to find the right solution. “As the serviced apartment sector continues to mature and grow, the key requirements of compliance, transparency, analysis and cost effectiveness, plus ease of booking, are becoming even more apparent,” says TAS Managing Director Group Commercial Sales, Jo Layton. Suppliers generally agree that although
booking for short stays is uncomplicated and can easily be done online, longer stays bring more complex demands from travellers, usually better achieved through conversation with a human. “Due to the specific HR requirements for longer stays for relocation, training and assignments – ie, regular moves with family – most bookings are made via intermediaries, direct via central reservation offices or with the property. Online tools need to be adapted,” says Frédéric Carré, Regional General Manager UK, Germany and Georgia for The Ascott. Director of Cheval Residences, George
Westwell, agrees: “Booking through OTAs and other online channels is a problem for long stays and we do suggest people call us because the apartment is going to be their home. We send a photograph or on occasions will even shoot a video. If clients are in the country, they like to visit.” In the main, OTAs only allow bookings of up to 30 days. However, the GSAIR report says the big online players could grow their presence as the market matures. “There is still resistance among corporates towards the use of OTAs as a booking channel,” writes TAS Chief Executive, Charlie McCrow, in the report.
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“Our survey found that just 29% permit their use, despite a simultaneous increase in interest in this channel amongst operators, especially for leisure bookings. “We should expect to see further market penetration by the OTAs as serviced apartment operators aim to boost their occupancies and the OTAs invest in better screening and vetting to ensure service, safety and quality standards are met.” In fact, BridgeStreet claims to have transformed itself into an OTA by integrating channel managers into its site. To further that endeavour, properties are listed as brands (Mode, Places, Residences etc) rather than signposted as BridgeStreet. It has also developed an open API for business, giving corporate clients direct access to the site. Although some organisations are investing in booking technology, the sector is largely behind the curve. “Currently, we have direct relationships with all our serviced apartment providers. There is a much bigger opportunity around how we use the apartment programme but the sector’s technology is holding it back,” says Global Travel Lead for UBS, Mark Cuschieri, in GSAIR. “We have a centralised request form that goes to the serviced apartment provider on request.” Those booking travellers into aparthotels operated by major hotel groups such as
Hyatt (Hyatt House), Marriott (Residence Inn) and Accor (Adagio) can do so through GDS-based systems. “The important improvement in coming years should be the listing of [all] serviced apartments in the traditional distribution channels like Sabre, Amadeus and other GDS,” says Chief Executive of Yays and chairman of ASAP NL, Peter Heule. “But conversion of serviced apartments via these channels is low. Here lies a challenge and added value.” Aparthotel brand Yays can be booked direct or through GDS. The average length of stay is eight days and the group’s Amsterdam property is hotel licensed, allowing reservations of one night. Sister company Short Stay Group has a minimum seven-night stay and an average residency of around four weeks. “GDS conversion is almost zero because the difference between hotel and serviced apartments is not explained clearly,” says Heule. This year, Oakwood launched a more intuitive website, with easier property search, side-by-side comparison and booking tools, followed by a mobile app that gives reservation details, live updates, check-in particulars and more. The company’s ‘epic’ accommodation management technology has a new interface, with customised choices and savings through competitive bids in the sourcing tool.
The improvement in coming years should be the listing of all serviced apartments in the traditional distribution channels”
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Elsewhere, Frasers Hospitality is building a new website with ease of booking in mind and Roomzzz’ new platform allows corporate buyers to book through its website at their corporate rates. Cheval accommodation is bookable by phone, website, via a new mobile app and through channels such as OTAs. It says WhatsApp is particularly popular in the Middle East, and the company is looking at its Chinese equivalent, WeChat, for customers there. Overseas reps are an option in the US and Australia. “Buyers are keen to access simpler, more efficient bookings of live inventory, of multiple product and price points, anywhere in the world,” says SACO Chief Executive, Stephen Hanton. “The future is technology meeting this need. The obstacle is verified supply – an individual boutique apartment in Lisbon must be bookable with the same speed and confidence as when booking the Marriott in Warsaw.” With SilverDoor’s Orbi, customers get online availability, visibility of spend and detailed MI reporting. Duty of care comes with connections to the traveller tracking tools of International SOS and Anvil. Supplier access is available direct, through channel manager, GDS or PMS systems. One system for the entire industry is no longer a pipe dream and MY Serviced Apartment Consultancy provides commission-free direct sourcing and pricing that potentially gives savings over booking
Buyers are keen to access simpler, more efficient bookings of live inventory, of multiple product and price points, anywhere in the world”
via a third party. In addition, buyers can book and correspond directly with operators in their programme via a dedicated portal. Homelike – which provides a marketplace for long-term business apartments – raised $14million in funding for further development in August 2018. It currently lists 45,000 furnished apartments and has booked more than 700,000 nights in 100 European cities, including London, Berlin, Munich, Hamburg, Cologne, Stuttgart, Vienna and Zurich. The preponderance of German cities reflects both the location of the company, Cologne, and the dynamic serviced apartments sector in Germany. London offices opened this year. “The company’s end-to-end booking platform makes booking furnished business apartments as easy as booking hotel rooms, ensuring a frictionless process for both suppliers and corporate clients,” says Chief Marketing Officer Tim Breker. Homelike lists apartments that meet strict quality standards and criteria that are tailored to the needs of corporate guests. The technology allows suppliers to track bookings, invoices, rental agreements and unit performance, and provides a similarly smooth process for bookers, with individual corporate log-in, configuration with travel policy and third-party integrations, allowing companies to manage temporary housing across their organisation. Travel managers may still be unhappy with the status quo but things are improving – slowly – and suppliers are working hard to make booking a serviced apartment a lot less arduous. ◆
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As competition intensiﬁes, the serviced apartment sector has become a hotbed of innovation
Robots are no longer the stuff of science fiction, with mechanised butlers in Ascott Raffles City Beijing and Ascott IFC Guangzhou performing tasks such as showing guests to their rooms or the facilities, providing concierge services, refilling room supplies and delivering packages. Ascott is also testing the use of artificial intelligence to identify temperature preferences for guests over time and pairing this with a smart thermostat device to control air conditioning settings to achieve the perfect environment. “AI will further allow customisation, improve communication and take the hassle out of daily chores while staying in an unfamiliar environment. “Operators are trialling various options in this field, from chatbots and translation software to smart kitchen appliances,” says Regional General Manager UK, Germany and Georgia for The Ascott, Frédéric Carré. Oakwood is another focusing on enhancing the customer experience through technology. The latest move is a smart apartment pilot, including digital
personal assistants and voice recognition room control. In more general terms it is working to a ‘technology road map‘, which has been created to focus attention on the way it interacts with guests that are increasingly wedded to smartphones. Work is ongoing to improve inventory search via mobile apps and boost interaction once bookings have been made. Dual-branded properties are another means of diversification, as evidenced by a number of Cycas properties, including
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n an age when the latest innovation quickly gives way to the next, it is absolutely essential that organisations continue to reinvent themselves to ensure they keep customers’ interest from straying elsewhere. As a result, in the evolving serviced apartments sector, creativity is the watchword. The Ascott, for example, is taking the matter particularly seriously and has Innovation Champions in France, UK and Germany, who engage with incubator programmes and start-ups to identify new technology that is worth a punt. As a result, the European arm of the company is trialling a mobile check-in system, mobile content streaming facilities and is streamlining communication channels for guests. Customers in its Singapore properties, meanwhile, can enjoy wireless connectivity anytime and anywhere through a pocket wifi device and, in Hong Kong, they have smartphones equipped with unlimited mobile data and free local and international calls.
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Residence Inn/Moxy Amsterdam, where Residence Inn guests benefit from free breakfast in the lounge but can also relax in the lively environs of the Moxy bar. Closer to home, Cycas has opened a combined Staybridge Suites and Crowne Plaza property in Manchester. SACO is looking outside the sector to bring in sundry experience. “Our finance manager is from manufacturing and is looking at productivity and process from a production line viewpoint,” says SACO Chief Executive, Stephen Hanton. “Our IT manager is bringing retail attributes into technology and our operations manager has a hotels background,” he adds. “We are employing for expertise and attitude. Our people need to fit the culture and to have the right nature for hospitality, to understand the basis of working in teams.” Adagio, meanwhile, has introduced ACDC (AccorHotels Customer Digital Card), which better records customers’ preferences and will ultimately allow hotels to share these details (it is GDPR compliant). “This allows us to put in place personal touches before the guest arrives, ensuring they have the best possible experience throughout their stay,” says Chief Operating Officer, Anja Müller. By doing this, time savings for guests on arrival and departure follow. The brand is also rolling out The Circle, to appear in 64 properties by 2020, to redefine public spaces based on customer requirement and the time of the day. These will include a library of objects to borrow, plus shared kitchens, grocery
store, events such as weekly aperitifs or Dinner@Adagio for all guests, and shared guest experiences designed to generate ‘moments to remember’. The idea is that employees will spend as much time with guests as possible and in the spirit of this conviviality, Accor runs Random Acts of Kindness across all of its brands, which allows staff to offer gifts and personal touches to customers, each chosen to suit the guest‘s personality. Cheval Residences, ever at the forefront of technology thanks to technophile Chief Executive, George Westwell, has introduced hotel management system Knowcross on staff telephones to enhance communication on site. For example, if a housekeeper finds a
AI will allow customisation, improve communication and take the hassle out of daily chores while staying in an unfamiliar environment”
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maintenance fault, it can be reported to the appropriate team. The Knowcross system allows the job to be allocated for resolution and then recorded as resolved. Meanwhile, new installation MYtel manages voice and email contact in Cheval’s reservations system, which is open 365 days a year from 8am to 8pm and staffed by ten team members who speak 12 languages. “A screen above the reservation team shows how many phone calls are in a voice queue and how many emails are waiting for a response,” explains Westwell. “If someone is phoning in from abroad, we can route the call to
one of our reservations people who speaks their language.” Other providers are looking to innovation that adds value to stays and highlight how ‘guest-friendly’ they are. For example, Select Apartments has launched My Select which allows clients to pre-order services such as fridge and cupboard-filling that provides essentials such as milk, tea bags, bread and eggs. In addition, the company gives a Solid Gold Guarantee to corporate clients that if any reported problem that is affecting a guest’s use of the apartment is not resolved within 48 hours, Select will issue a refund equivalent to one night’s stay. Room2 Southampton has mobile checkin, self-service at a kiosk, and for those who prefer the human touch, the versatile front of house team gives a personal greeting and interaction on the move; and guests can choose between a firm or softer mattress prior to arrival. YotelPAD is promising a tailored guide to the locality from locals when it arrives next year, and Cotels’ 7Zero1 properties have fitness gear in all suites as a palliative to a stressful business life. Staycity opened the first of its premium Wilde properties – inspired by Oscar Wilde – on The Strand in 2018, displaying local touches
with an Irish accent. Further walks on the Wilde side will appear in Edinburgh (2019), two in Berlin (2019/20) and Manchester (2020). Native continues to evolve, taking over historic buildings to do it. Having opened Native Bankside in a former tea factory, with high ceilings and interesting artworks, it launched Native Glasgow in the former headquarters of the Anchor Line Shipping Company, with two restaurants. Native Manchester follows with eaterie by restaurateur Bistrotheque and fitness facilities by Blok. In a dynamic environment such as the serviced apartments sector, innovation is not an option, and there will be plenty more to come. ◆ roomzzz
Select Apartments has launched My Select, which allows clients to pre-order essentials such as milk, tea bags, bread and eggs”
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Temporary housing in Belgium made easy
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BBF ADV BMI Untitled-1 1 PUBLISHING 275X210.indd 1
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THINGS UP Hospitality companies are evolving their oﬀering as the sharing economy changes attitudes
o much has been written about 'disruptors' that they have almost gone mainstream – though that does not disguise the confused relationship that the serviced apartments industry has with the likes of Airbnb. On the one hand, the sector credits Airbnb – to some extent – with having alerted consumers to the possibility of accommodation other than hotels but, on the other hand, providers do not want to be tarred with the unregulated brush of the home-sharing economy. Portfolio Group, which has apartments in four Hertfordshire locations, started life with agents SilverDoor and TAS and, after six months, explored the possibility
of putting a few of its properties on Airbnb. “We have a booking request rather than live availability and it quickly became our fastest route to market,” says Portfolio's Managing Director, Carly Fitzpatrick. Most of Portfolio’s bookings still come through agents, with a small number through Airbnb and the company’s website, also on an enquiry-only basis, as a screening process, and it is a member of ASAP and is Quality Accredited. “Airbnb is unregulated, so there is a potential risk associated with that and people tend to put us into the same bracket. At least the ASAP accreditation differentiates us, but there is still a lot of
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education of consumers to be done because the negative impact of the association with the home sharing economy is huge,” she says. The point Fitzpatrick makes is felt particularly in the corporate sector, with many companies having concerns around whether unregulated home-share properties really fulfil their Duty of Care to employees. One company, The Wellcome Trust, included serviced apartments in its travel programme for the first time in 2016 in order to capture Airbnb spend, telling its business travellers, “as an alternative, we can offer you a great serviced apartments company and we will book it for you and pay for it on your behalf”. Adding to the general confusion in this area is the acquisition by major hotel groups of sharing economy players. Leading the way is Accor which, in 2017,
integrated home rental brands TravelKeys, OneFineStay and SquareBreak into one business unit with more than 10,000 homes under the OneFineStay banner. London-based Veeve, meanwhile, is owned by Wyndham Hotels & Resorts,
Since the home-share economy is not going away, hotel groups are wise to embrace it”
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There are great examples of hospitality companies adapting their business models to suit evolving industries and new customer bases – in particular, millennial travellers”
a thorny issue a lot more palatable. “I do include that in my inventory and depending on the agreement we can make, we will enhance it by adding Marriott’s Tribute Portfolio Homes and Accor’s onefinestay,” says Global Accommodation Manager for AIG, Jan Jacobsen. “But to be included, they have to be security vetted and, at the minimum, they have to meet ASAP’s standards and they must be managed by a professional organisation such as Accor or Wyndham, not just an individual. “In certain destinations, there is a broad spectrum of supply of private home rental within a professional service managed environment,” adds Jacobsen. airbnb
complementing the group’s German and Spanish acquisitions. Elsewhere, Hilton has a stake in Oasis and Marriott is the latest to enter the fray with Tribute Portfolio Homes, an extension of its hotel collection brand. After a five-month trial with Hostmaker’s London properties, Marriott has extended the range to 340 properties in London, Paris, Rome and Lisbon. However, all is not plain sailing in this world and according to an article on Skift, Hyatt took a $22million impairment charge on Oasis, reducing its book value, and Accor made a $288million write-off against its investment in onefinestay and concièrge services provider John Paul. This is partly because running homes as a business is more labour-intensive than running hotels, not least because they are not purpose-built for business use, “so there’s always tremendous need for professional care, maintenance of homes and also professional service that goes on behind the scenes, to be able to solve those issues when things go wrong”, CEO of onefinestay, Javier CedilloEspin, told Skift. Since the home-share economy is clearly not going away, hotel groups are wise to embrace it and their presence in the sector makes
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In addition, “There are great examples of hospitality companies adapting their business models to suit evolving industries and new customer bases, particularly when it comes to millennial travellers,” says Regional General Manager UK, Germany & Georgia for The Ascott, Frédéric Carré. He gives as examples The Ascott’s own lyf brand, which will provide social spaces such as communal working areas and social kitchens, and Premier Inn’s recently launched Zip, where rooms are just 8.5m2 and cost from £19 per night. “Millennials prefer to have spare cash to spend on experiences rather than expensive accommodation,” he says. BridgeStreet’s Stüdyo answers to the shared space culture with rooms in the London Paddington starting at 9m2. The company is also operating microapartment brand Stow-Away, the first of
which set sail in recycled shipping containers on Lower Marsh, London SE1, in October; and post-refurbishment last year, Citadines Barbican London now has some rooms without kitchenettes. In addition, Adagio Access is installing communal kitchens in some properties, following the success of that model in Frankfurt. And Yotel has announced the arrival of YotelPAD – with larger spaces than its regular 'cabin' style rooms – which it is developing in Park City, US, plus Geneva, Dubai and Miami. The last word goes to co-founder of Cycas Hospitality, John Wagner: “It was interesting to see that a PWC survey, The Sharing Economy, indicated that consumers familiar with the sharing economy were 34% more likely to trust a leading hotel brand than Airbnb. This confirms the reassurance of big-name hotel brands,” he says. ◆
Consumers familiar with the sharing economy are 34% more likely to trust a leading hotel brand than Airbnb, confirming the reassurance of big-name hotel brands”
THEY SAY THERE’S NO PLACE LIKE HOME. WE BEG TO DIFFER.
At Roomzzz, even when you’re on business, you’ll feel like you’re at home.
0203 504 5555 | www.roomzzz.com
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S N SE A SO U R FO
Part of the
The emergence of loyalty schemes is giving travellers more reason to pick their favourite apartment provider
the loyalty bandwagon. In October, Homelike teamed up with Lufthansa’s Miles & More to allow business travellers to earn up to 50 miles per month when booking via Homelike. Similarly, Frasers Hospitality relaunched its Fraser World scheme last year. Rewards are given for short and long stays, and benefits include best rate guaranteed when booking direct, up to 20% off best flexible rate and free stays at participating properties. Ascott Online Advantage gives members discounts on Best Flexible Rates: a yearlong rebate of 10%, seasonal reductions of up to 50% and e-vouchers worth 25% off during their birthday month at Ascott, Citadines and Somerset serviced apartments worldwide. SACO distributes favourable online rates to corporate and leisure customers, and has guest recognition that acknowledges loyalty, returning guests and special occasions. “Our sector does not yet have the distribution to deliver internationaltype, established loyalty programmes. But more importantly, by the time it does, the concept will be dated,” says Chief
Executive, Stephen Hanton. “These programmes are expensive and require volume of members and supply. “The consumer is looking for spontaneous reward and recognition, not accumulating points to be used down the line,” he says. “We are more likely to focus on personalising the guest experience through data and building loyalty that way. But loyalty, recognition and added value are a long journey.” oakwood
oyalty programmes typically test the patience of travel managers. And until now they have been largely absent from the serviced apartments sector. However, the investment that major hotel chains such as Accor, Marriott and Hyatt are making in extended-stay properties, means members of those groups’ schemes can benefit as much from a stay in a serviced apartment as they can from patronising any of their brands' traditional properties. It also benefits operators: “One reason we have a business model that sees us go after chain-affiliated projects is that there is the clear benefit of being linked to their global frequency programmes,” says Cycas Director, John Wagner. “The overwhelming majority of corporate and leisure business for our London Residence Inn aparthotels comes via Marriott’s distribution channels and among the advantages to being associated with global brand systems are greater visibility and loyalty,” he adds. Meanwhile, others are jumping on to
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Meanwhile, others have similar pointbased schemes which reward guests for every pound spent. Mansley Serviced Apartments gives one point per £1 spent on accommodation in Edinburgh, London and Inverness, redeemable against the cost of stays or a gift voucher. Premier Suites, meanwhile, awards points on direct bookings, which can be cashed in for gift cards and free stays in participating properties and perks include early check-in and late check-out. Another operator, Roomzzz, has a new loyalty programme in the offing. Most corporate guests are going to choose a property that is convenient, within budget and comfortable but that does not mean they will not appreciate being rewarded for their loyalty. As the above suggests, guest recognition and reward works, and there are many different ways to skin a flat… ◆
Oakwood currently offers Marriott Rewards through its ExecuStay brand. Every stay of 30 nights or more with ExecuStay will earn customers points that can be redeemed at 6,500 hotels and resorts, from 29 different brands, in more than 90 countries. Members can use these points on free nights at hotels, exclusive shopping offers, concerts, flights, spas and other experiences. Select Apartments runs a Select Rewards programme and guests earn points which they can exchange for vouchers for wellknown high street stores. Some of the smaller operators are also running reward schemes: thesqua.re gives ‘squa.re miles’ at 2% of the cost of the room night and balances are redeemable against accommodation worldwide up to a maximum discount of £100 at any one time.
Members can use points on free nights, flights, exclusive shopping offers and other experiences”
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EXTEND YOUR STAY WITH STAYBRIDGE SUITES
Staybridge Suites® Manchester – Oxford Road
Staybridge Suites®, the much-loved extended-stay brand from IHG®, offers guests contemporary suites which provide the comforts of home, with fully equipped kitchens, comfortable living areas and flexible working spaces. Staybridge Suites is perfect for guests traveling for business and staying for an extended period. Each hotel has key brand hallmarks including The Pantry, a 24/7 convenience store that has all the essentials that guests may need during their stay; Evening Socials where guests can enjoy complimentary food, drinks and conversation from three times a week in the hotel reception; 24-hour fitness rooms; and complimentary laundry facilities.
is opposite the world’s oldest parliament building still in use, the Binnenhof, and sits alongside the stunning Court Pond the ‘Hofvijver’ and the famous Mauritshuis Museum, making it the perfect location to take pictures of The Hague’s historic skyline. Designed to meet the needs of extended stay guests from business travellers to families, this hotel offers 101 stunning contemporary designed suites.
The stylish new communal spaces offer even more places to work, meet or relax and the flexible design and communal kitchen layout breaks down the barrier between hotel guests and staff, giving it a more residential feel. Room designs are neutral, so guests can personalise their space and make it their own when staying at Staybridge Suites.
In addition, Staybridge Suites® Manchester – Oxford Road launched in summer 2018, where guests are welcomed by a bright and contemporary lobby for guests to feel at ease. This is a hotel where you come to live, rather than stay – so settle-in and unwind by the fireplace to feel at home in Manchester.
Staybridge Suites is set to double its size in Europe over the next two years, opening more properties and entering new markets in Europe. Later in 2019, Staybridge Suites® Dundee, Staybridge Suites® London – Heathrow Bath Road and Staybridge Suites® Warsaw – Ursynow will be making their debut.
For details visit: www.staybridge.com
Most recently opened is Staybridge Suites® The Hague – Parliament. Located in the heart of The Hague, the hotel
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SU PP LI ER LI ST IN GS
ASSURED Find out more about the ASAP members who have supported The 2019 Guide to Serviced Apartments
20 THE BARONS LUXURY SERVICED APARTMENTS
ALLSTAY SERVICED APARTMENTS
THE ASCOTT LIMITED
allstay.co.uk +44 (0) 20 3465 9100
the-ascott.com +44 (0) 20 3119 3405
Award winning, luxurious and stylish serviced apartments in Richmond upon Thames, Twickenham and St Margarets.
Allstay Serviced Apartments provides a most professional accommodation finding service in the UK & Europe with access to thousands of apartments.
One of the leading international lodging owner-operators with more than 630 properties in over 160 cities spanning more than 30 countries.
BBF SERVICED APARTMENTS
CITY APARTMENTS LTD
bbf.be +32 (0) 2 705 05 21
bridgestreet.com +44 (0) 20 7792 2222
chevalresidences.com +44 (0) 20 7341 7052
cityaparts.com +44 (0) 20 7726 262
BBF is the leading serviced apartments provider in Brussels and Antwerp. We offer the ideal solution for temporary housing in Belgium.
BridgeStreet is the first technology platform built for business travel, offering clients unparalleled access to extended stay accommodations.
Cheval Residences is a collection of more than 500 luxury serviced apartments in the most sought-after areas of London.
The City of London specialists with over 200 apartments exclusively for business travellers. Our ethos is simple: to exceed expectations!
20thebarons.co.uk +44 (0) 7972 601613
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CORPORATE HOUSING FACTORY
FOUNTAIN COURT APARTMENTS
corporatehousingfactory.com +31 (0) 88 1169 500
cravenhouse.net +44 (0) 7747 073269
dolphinsquare.co.uk +44 (0) 20 7798 6890
fountaincourt.com +44 (0) 131 622 2754
Corporate Housing Factory offers short, medium- and long-term housing solutions for (international) corporate clients in the Netherlands.
Award-winning luxury serviced apartments offering the very best in quality and customer service. Located in Hampton Court and Claygate, Surrey.
Short stay and corporate housing apartments in London SW1. Facilities include a fitness club, pool, spa, bar & grill, 24/7 reception and gardens.
Spacious, fully equipped serviced apartments in central Edinburgh. Ideal for business travellers and extended stays with properties across the city.
HOUSE OF FISHER
MANSLEY SERVICED APARTMENTS
frasershospitality.com +44 (0) 20 7341 5599
houseofﬁsher.com +44 (0) 1189 514151
bymansley.com 0800 304 7160
MELIÁ WHITE HOUSE APARTMENTS
A leading provider of premium serviced apartments, hotel residences and boutique hotels with 139 properties across 80 gateway cities worldwide.
Market leading owner-operator with 22 years’ experience and 200 Thames Valley apartments, delivering unbeatable customer service, 24/7 support & Wi-Fi.
Apartments and suites with style and character. Seven outstanding locations including London, Cheltenham, Edinburgh and Inverness.
The Association of Serviced Apartment Providers (ASAP) is the not-for-profit trade body representing Quality Accredited operator and agent organisations currently from 19 countries. Their operator members collectively operate over 100,000
apartments and account for some three million bed nights per year. It operates a Quality Accreditation programme and an annual convention and awards programme among a host of other activities. theasap.org.uk
OAKWOOD oakwood.com +44 (0) 20 7749 4460
melia.com +44 (0) 20 7391 3063 112 serviced apartments in the Melia White House, London, featuring hotel services 24/7, restaurant, bar & room service.
PORTFOLIO SERVICED ACCOMMODATION Portfolio-Apartments.co.uk 0800 024 8914
Oakwood provides move-in-ready furnished accommodations to meet the needs of global organisations and individual travellers alike.
Hertfordshire’s luxury operator, with apartments in St Albans, Hatfield, Stevenage and Welwyn Garden City.
premiersuiteseurope.com +44 (0) 151 227 9467
prestigeapartments.co.uk +44 (0) 20 7603 7629
A wonderful alternative to traditional hotel accommodation. Choose from 15 locations across continental Europe, Ireland and the UK.
Award-winning customer service, friendly attitude and the highest levels of service, providing access to over 700 apartment locations UK-wide.
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ROOM ZZZ APARTHOTELS
Qapartments.com +44 (0) 20 3404 4040
roomzzz.com +44 (0) 20 3404 4040
Founded in 1996, Q Apartments is a global leader within the serviced apartments industry, operating over 2,000 units across UK, Denmark and Brazil.
Think a hotel without the boxy rooms. An apartment with more security. Designed to make you feel at home, with plenty of room to be yourself.
SACO THE SERVICED APARTMENT COMPANY
SHORTSTAY MK SERVICED APARTMENTS AND HOUSES
sacoapartments.com +44 (0) 33 0202 0505
shortstay-mk.co.uk +44 (0) 1908 540 636
Solutions for any length of stay – aparthotels, apartments and corporate housing. Think you know apartments? Rethink.
From stylish studios to sevenbedroom houses in Milton Keynes, for those seeking superb quality and amenities.
stayingcool.com +44 (0) 121 285 1250
supercityuk.com +44 (0) 20 3818 9070
Award-winning, stylish 4*/ 5* ASAP and Visit England accredited apartment hotel in Birmingham. Launching in Manchester Autumn 2019.
Stylish aparthotels in central locations with a “professionally informal” service offering the perfect blend of apartment living and hotel luxury.
TOWN OR COUNTRY
staycity.com +44 (0) 20 3499 0748
town-or-country.co.uk +44 (0) 23 8088 1000
One of Europe’s leading aparthotel providers operating two brands: Staycity Aparthotels and new premium brand Wilde Aparthotels by Staycity.
Owner-operated with 37 years of experience, providing 80+ unique serviced studios, apartments and houses in Southampton and Portsmouth.
SILVERDOOR APARTMENTS silverdoorapartments.com +44 (0) 20 8090 8090 The world’s most trusted serviced apartment provider. Through one relationship, we source accommodation from 1,200 operators in 92 countries.
TAS GLOBAL (POWERED BY THE APARTMENT SERVICE) apartmentservice.com +44 (0) 20 8944 1444 The Apartment Service has over three decades of experience and is the leading global serviced apartment booking agency.
WEEK2WEEK SERVICED APARTMENTS week2weekservicedapartments.com
THE APARTMENTS BY PRESTIGE theapartments.co.uk +44 (0) 20 7603 7629 A dedicated provider of beautifully appointed studio and one-bedroom luxury apartments in Chelsea, Marylebone and the City.
YAYS yays.com +31 (0) 20 523 1028
+44 (0) 19128 13129
Executive corporate letting in the heart of Durham, Central Newcastle upon Tyne and surrounding areas.
Beautiful apartments in the most charming neighbourhoods of Amsterdam, giving guests the opportunity to discover what it’s like to live like a local.
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The UK's serviced apartment sector in numbers
TOP UK GROWTH MARKETS Three-year growth forecast for serviced apartment inventory
The number of corporates who say Brexit will have no impact on their accommodation use
UK APARTMENT MIX
43 % 42 % 14 % 1 %
three or more bedrooms
+46% MANCHESTER +36% EDINBURGH +27% LIVERPOOL +18% GLASGOW +18% LONDON
WITH APARTMENT SUPPLIER
VIA SPECIALIST AGENT
apartments in the UK
VIA ONLINE TRAVEL AGENT
added globally in 2017-2018
apartments added in the UK in 2018
apartments to open across 46 properties in the UK by 2020 AVERAGE DAILY RATES JAN-SEP 2018 (SOURCE: STR)
BARRIERS TO FURTHER CORPORATE ADOPTION 1. SHORTAGE OF APARTMENTS IN REQUIRED LOCATIONS 2. INCONSISTENT QUALITY OF APARTMENTS 3. INCONSISTENT LEVELS OF SERVICES AND AMENITIES
Source: figures kindly supplied by data and analytics specialist STR and sourced from GSAIR 2018-19
HOW CORPORATES BOOK SERVICED APARTMENTS
The number of corporates including serviced apartments in their annual hotel RFPs
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One agency 7 global offices
1,096,547 serviced apartments in 160 countries Powered by The Apartment Service
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A PA R T M E N T S
WE MAKE THE WORLD YOUR OYSTER 300 CITIES ACROSS OUR GLOBAL NETWORK
#ENJOY EVERY MOMENT Untitled-1 1
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Your 2019 guide to the serviced apartment industry, from ASAP and The Business Travel Magazine