A new year, a new growth area. According to industry analysts, 2016 is set to be the year when serviced apartment providers give hotels a real run for their money in the battle for the corporate pound. 2015 saw an impressive 86% increase in UK corporate clients using serviced apartments instead of hotels, reports the Travel Intelligence Network, with a similar pattern observed in Germany and France.
Symptomatic of this coming of age is the arrival on the serviced apartment scene of fresher, funkier alternatives to the slightly staid old guard, such as West London’s Urban Villa – all pared-down décor and big, social spaces “combining the best of boutique with the comforts of extended stay” declares Sleeper Magazine. Some commentators see less corporate, more individual serviced apartments as the ideal solution for travellers tired of traditional hotels but not quite ready for Airbnb, who have themselves made alarming inroads into the sector. Long stay operators also offer what Airbnb can’t – the reassurance of a regulated operator. Coupled with the value that stripping out unused services offers, serviced apartments are in many ways ideally placed to fill the gap between hotels and private apartments rented through Airbnb or Onefinestay, particularly when they can offer a genuine sense of place. So exponential growth is on the cards, but are hotel technology providers ready to meet the more specialised requirements of serviced apartment providers? And are these requirements really that different that specialist support services are needed?
Take the booking engine – one of the most critical points in the customer journey. The reality is that most booking engines aren’t designed to facilitate extended stay reservations. Luxury Hotels Group are leading the field in real time booking engine technology tailored to the needs of serviced apartment providers, with an easily navigable, intuitive booking engine designed for the needs of medium and long stay guests. As well as optimising the guest journey with multiple add-on options to increase incremental revenue, crucially for extended stay bookers it features calendar view format with live inventory.
Website design and digital marketing must also address the nuances of the extended stay market to boost conversion, with clear messaging tailored to corporate long stay bookers. With one of the industry’s best value GDS packages also factored in, serviced apartment providers working with specialists like Luxury Hotels Group are better placed to win market share as well as enjoying the fruits of growing market size.