Understanding the serviced apartment industry

Understanding the serviced apartment industry beyond the name

Press Release DistributionMarlin Apartments – 07/01/2015: There is a lot of confusion over the name of the serviced apartment industry, and indeed of similar relatively new types of accommodation becoming regularly used by business and leisure guests. Apart-hotels, corporate housing, residences – the options are not only growing but evolving at a phenomenal rate.

As of the beginning of 2014, London has just 1.6 serviced apartments per 1000 business travellers – and demand is beginning to outstrip supply in the capital – suggesting that the business traveller is interested in becoming more acquainted with the serviced apartment industry.

Serviced apartments are fully equipped and furnished apartments available for short or long stays, with some of the facilities of a hotel such as 24 hour reception and weekly housekeeping. Corporate housing is a term used for fully furnished apartments which are rented out for fixed periods of time, but do not benefit from services such as a reception or regular housekeeping.

Aparthotels are the middle-ground between serviced apartments and hotels; they are extended stay hotels that feature extra “home from home” facilities such as a kitchenette and a small living area, but that are managed and run like a hotel – for instance, maintaining a daily cleaning service.
When we consider the term apartments, the first thing that will come to mind is real estate – buying or renting an apartment through an estate agent. This seems to be the cause of most people’s misunderstandings with what serviced apartments actually are, assuming that we sell apartments.

The word ‘apartment’ in itself is an Americanism that has become adopted in the UK but appears to have taken on a slightly more particular meaning here. In the United States whereas ‘apartment’ refers to self-contained housing units generally, in the UK it is typically used to refer to higher-end or more luxury units – instead using the word ‘flat’ for general usage or more lower-end builds.

One question to ask would be this: does the serviced apartment industry really need so many names? Would the industry benefit to some extent from name homogenisation?
Positioning certainly is key when it comes to educating the public about what serviced apartments are. Increasingly so in recent years, the boundaries between serviced apartments and hotels are converging towards a “best of both” centre. Serviced apartment providers are adding more and more hotel-like facilities to their repertoire; conversely, hotels are diversifying to include aparthotels and serviced apartments in their portfolios.

What can be even more confusing for both the business and leisure traveller is the way in which companies within the industry categorise themselves. Can a serviced apartment company consider themselves to have corporate housing accommodation? Of course. Is a hotel chain that also owns serviced apartments still just a hotel chain? Perhaps.
Several industry leaders have attempted to clear up this confusion by creating a standardised charter to define the categories within the sector, using “serviced apartments” as the umbrella term for all types of accommodation that are apartment-based.

With the growth of serviced apartments projected to increase in Europe by a massive 50% over the next two years, greater understanding of what serviced apartments are will also come naturally. However, the serviced apartment industry also has a responsibility to make this as transparent as possible for the business traveller.

ENDS

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