The Business Travel Magazine April/May 2019

online.magazines

SERVICED APARTMENTS

While 89% of bookers

like to research

online, they much prefer the

reassurance of dealing with

a knowledgeable consultant,

especially when dealing with

long-stay bookings”

AIRBNB

DURHAM BOUTIQUE APARTMENTS

“We generally encourage people to use

serviced apartments if they are spending

five nights in one location – less time than

that and they would stay in a traditional

hotel,” says EY’s Global Supplier Leader,

Travel Meetings & Events, Tim Nichols.

They book through our TMC or intranet

site, which goes through to the vendor for

completion of the leasing process. Last year,

we implemented an innovative online

booking platform for long stay, which

provides instantaneous online booking for

serviced apartments in the US, London and

elsewhere, and which gives a quick

connection between vendor and traveller. It

is much more efficient and we get great

feedback from travellers.”

Ask an expert

Serviced apartments comprise a relatively

small proportion of overall travel spend but

still represent significant sums of money.

As was highlighted in the latest Global

Serviced Apartments Industry Report

(GSAIR), travel managers are increasingly

turning to their TMCs/agents to manage this

service, which enables cost and traveller

tracking to be consolidated into established

reporting tools.

And TMCs are working more with

specialist providers to procure serviced

apartments due to the idiosyncrasies of the

sector. As TAS Chief Executive Charlie

McCrow points out, this is largely due to the

lack of visibility of serviced apartments on

the GDS, for reasons such as difficulties in

identifying properties (names don’t always

give it away), lack of availability, cancellation

charges and the requirement for a higher

touch as traveller preferences and other

personal details are expected to be

managed in more detail.

Stay extensions also stand in the way of

booking serviced apartments online, as they

are often arranged direct at the property,

causing fractured information for reporting,

traveller tracking and duty of care.

“When we relaunched our website a few

years ago we carried out some research

which showed that while 89% of bookers

like to research online, they much prefer

the reassurance of dealing with a

knowledgeable consultant, especially when

dealing with longer stay, high value

bookings,” says Select Apartments Managing

Director, Simon Morrison.

“And if for any reason something does go

wrong with a booking, it can be easily

rectified, which is not always the case with a

GDS. The biggest plus is that we guarantee

a one-hour turnaround to all enquiries.”

ASCOTT LYF

Confident approach

Like the sector it represents, ASAP is also

going from strength to strength. “Through

the formation of a global alliance, we’re

looking to drive this understanding

worldwide, while also utilising our newly

launched directory as a portal for visibility

at stayingwithconfidence.com – both will

help to ensure minimum standards for

guests as we bid to safeguard the

reputation of the industry,” explains Foice.

“By getting more associations on board,

we’re hoping to increase the level of traction

among the corporate buyer community on

a global scale,” he adds.

Similarly, the big players are also

highlighting standards and facilities. For

example, apps that allow mobile check-in

contain an electronic key to apartments and

allow guests to communicate with front

desk or housekeeping are beginning to take

hold in the sector: SACO already does this

while Cheval Residences will roll out mobile

keys at Gloucester Park when it reopens

after a refurbishment later this year.

Frasers’ app will allow online mobile

check-in, serve as a key and enable

requests. “Local information is appreciated

by guests and apps offering concièrge

services, 24-hour chat, booking engine

capability and other functions such as food

delivery are extremely valuable in our

industry,” says Hollants van Loocke.

House of Fisher recently upgraded its

online booking engine to provide a more

efficient, customer-friendly service. “It crosssells

the locations better, offering a solution

that fits date range and/or price and

promotions; and we are able to offer

THEBUSINESSTRAVELMAG.com

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