Corporate travel spending may be on the rebound, but executives are still under pressure to optimise their budgets and find savings. In turn, many are choosing to stay at serviced apartments as a more affordable alternative to short-term hotel stays and a more convenient option than long-term rentals.
Cost-conscious tourists, particularly those with families
have also been capitalising on serviced apartments in North America and Europe,
primarily, but increasingly around the world,, helping to buoy the sector in
the economic downturn.
Compared to hotels, serviced apartments include more space and
keen prices. Rates can be up to 30% cheaper than a comparable hotel if you
commit to longer periods of time. But they’re also flexible. Serviced apartments
are already a maturing market in many cities across the globe with a huge
supply of apartments at all price points, including studios with kitchenettes
and four-bedroom penthouses. You can also book for one night or for one
The common areas in apart-hotels may be smaller than at
hotels and there is not much in the way of food and beverage services, but many
have free wi-fi, direct-dial telephones, conferencing facilities, 24-hour concierge,
housekeeping and laundry services, as well as satellite TV and loyalty points –
something you won’t necessarily find in a long-term rental.
They differentiate themselves from hotels by having washing
machines and separate living and sleeping areas. Some have multiple bedrooms,
allowing groups of executives to share units and save even more money on the
road. They also have fully-fitted kitchen and dining facilities so you have the
option to eat in rather than indulge at expensive restaurants.
Different apartments suit different clients. Intermediary
companies or global aggregators such as the Apartment Service or the Serviced Apartment Company can advise
on suitability. It’s important to note that not all serviced apartments, or “aparthotels”
as they are referred to in the industry, are created equally. The star-rating
system that applies to hotels is not globally applied to serviced apartments,
so it’s crucial to check if the apartment you are booking has all the
facilities you need for your stay.
But the fact that international hotel chains like Marriott (with its Executive
(with Staybridge Suites) and Accor (with Adagio)
have stepped into this market is a sign that there is anticipated demand from
business travellers looking for something beyond the usual hotel option. In the
US, serviced apartments have been branded as an “extended stay”, and the
concept is already well established with hotel brands such as Hilton, Hyatt and Westin.
Yet awareness among corporate travellers of serviced
apartments as a viable alternative to hotels still has a long way to go. Independent
brands in this sector still don’t have the clout of international hotel brands,
many of which are household names.
It is also hard to change entrenched hotel booking habits. Not
all business travel agents or travel management companies are able to book serviced
apartments for long periods of time through their traditional computer systems.
Although if you ask them, they will book directly with various serviced