Don’t be fooled – the serviced apartment sector isn’t the new kid on the block. While they haven’t been around quite as long as vacation rentals, serviced apartments have been fulfilling a specific traveler need for over a decade.
What is a serviced apartment?
The ASAP (Association of Serviced Apartment Providers) defines a “serviced apartment” as a type of furnished apartment available for long or short-term stays, which provides amenities, housekeeping and a range of services for guests and where most taxes and utilities are included in the price.
As a general rule, serviced apartments exist to meet the needs of business travelers – either those on extended travel projects or those who are relocating for work.
According to the Global Serviced Apartment Industry Report, there are now an estimated 826,759 serviced apartments available worldwide. While most of these are in the Americas and Canada, numbers are also increasing across Europe, Australasia and Asia.
The report also shows that although usage of serviced apartments is up year on year, the rate of adoption is slowing down. This is due to obstacles such as “booking takes too long”, “inconsistent services” and “lack of recognized brands”. Could online travel agencies and the vacation rental industry help to solve these barriers?
How can OTAs like Airbnb and Booking.com help this sector to grow?
Previously, the term “vacation rentals” would traditionally have referred to properties in beach, lake or mountain destinations. Only in rare cases would it extend to properties in big, metropolitan cities.
With the sudden growth of home-sharing sites like Airbnb, however, there are an increasing number of opportunities for hosts and guests alike in urban areas. In fact, the top markets by active listings on the site are Paris, London, New York, Rio de Janeiro, Los Angeles, Barcelona, Rome, Copenhagen, Sydney and Amsterdam.
While both Airbnb and Booking.com have already broken into the corporate housing space with their offerings of Work and Business respectively, many serviced apartment providers still aren’t taking advantage of this opportunity. Yet the more executive apartment companies begin to use OTAs to get their accommodations in front of millions more potential travelers, the more the industry will consolidate. In turn, this will continue to blur the lines between business and leisure travel.
Shared benefits of vacation rentals and serviced apartments
There are many features of serviced apartments which make them suitable as vacation rentals and vice versa. Compared to traditional hotel accommodation, both options tend to offer more space and flexibility. But, what else can you do to make your property attractive for business guests (and their companies)?
Offer great value for money
Vacation rentals and serviced apartments usually work out cheaper than hotel stays. That is, when comparing the standard of accommodation and length of stay. As an independent owner, you can go one step further and offer reduced rates for longer term bookings. This makes your property highly competitive – as a hotel won’t be able to provide the same offer.
Have a kitted out kitchen
One of the top inconveniences of hotel stays is having to eat out 24/7. Providing guests with a kitchen that has all the essentials to whip up a meal is a big plus – especially if the guest has dietary requirements.
Make laundry easy work
For any guest on a long-term stay, laundry facilities are a must-have. At the very least, a washer and dryer should be available on site. However, you could also offer an additional dry cleaning and ironing service. This can be just what a business traveler needs to keep looking sharp while away from home comforts.
Provide extra services to rival top hotels
From local gym and private pool access to concierge services, drivers and other travel arrangements, the amenities you provide give you an opportunity to prove to your guests why your vacation rental or serviced apartment is the better option. Convenience is key for those traveling for business, so ensure you make accessing these extra services simple and easy.
Business travelers who previously had no other option than to book a hotel room for an extended stay now have an increasing inventory of suitable, spacious properties to choose from. At the same time, owners of properties which can adapt to fit a range of growing needs (like corporate travel) have greater opportunities for distribution with OTAs and professional websites.
Whether guests book direct or via listing sites, the sector of non-hotel accommodations is expanding rapidly and continuing to consolidate. This is great news for hosts who are looking to increase bookings, and guests who value quality and comfort above all.