Serviced apartments on the up in Europe

Companies around the world are looking to Europe as a gateway to profitable new markets. Serviced apartments companies, in their turn, are opening new properties in a range of key European business destinations.

Citadine Suites , Paris
This year is proving to be one of expansion for Europe's serviced apartments sector as it seeks to respond to global business and leisure travel trends and meet demand from the relocation sector in key destinations across the continent.As we reported in our summer issue, The Ascott Limited announced in May its intention to open 10,000 apartments in Europe by 2020. Frasers Hospitality was planning new properties in the UK and Europe, and Cheval Residences predicted that 2015 would be the year in which investors and corporates would "wake up" to the opportunity for growth in serviced apartment provision in London.

StayCity seeking sites in Europe

Among the companies enjoying a period of rapid growth in Europe is Dublin-based Staycity, which currently operates 1,000 apartments and aparthotels across eight European cities.Later this year, StayCity will launch apartments in Lyon and Birmingham Newhall Square. Openings in Marseille, London's Covent Garden and York are scheduled for 2016, as is a significant expansion of its Heathrow property, which opened for business in 2012.By the end of 2016, the company expects to operate more than 1,800 apartments in 15 properties across ten European cities, including Birmingham, Dublin, Edinburgh, Liverpool, London, Lyon, Manchester, Marseille, Paris and Amsterdam.Describing StayCity as "a growing brand in an expanding sector", development director Barry Hickey, recently appointed to spearhead the company's growth in Europe, confirmed that it was actively seeking sites both in the UK and in key cities around the continent.

Frasers Hospitality opens in Germany and Spain

Following the launch of its hotel residence brand in Asia Pacific, Frasers Hospitality has opened two new Capri by Fraser residences in Europe.The new properties, in Frankfurt and Barcelona, are the company's first in Germany and Spain, both of which continue to be popular with business and leisure travellers and rank among the top five European countries for attracting foreign direct investment.Mr Choe Peng Sum, CEO of Frasers, said that great effort had been invested in creating a product that appealed to Millennials, who currently represent 20 per cent of international travellers and are expected to make 320 million international trips each year by 2020."It is specifically for this group of travel-savvy, Internet dependent, spontaneous travellers who seek-out unconventional accommodation concepts that this tech-forward and e-efficient brand was created, with a focus on providing more choice and enhancing work-life balance," he added.

Strong Europe focus for Oakwood

Another company with its sights set on Europe is Oakwood Worldwide, which is planning expansion in Dublin and Amsterdam and eyeing other key European relocation destinations, including Austria, Germany and Switzerland.Oakwood recently extended its London portfolio with a renovated six-unit building in Leather Lane. Situated conveniently for business travellers between the Inns of Court in London's legal district and the creative business district of Clerkenwell, Oakwood Leather Lane is close to underground stations, rail links and leisure attractions.The company has been awarded the Association of Serviced Apartment Providers' (ASAP) Quality Accreditation Marque for its managed properties across London for the second year running.

Citadines travel capsule takes off

Ascott came up with a creative way of promoting the benefits of serviced accommodation in general and its Citadines brand in particular this autumn, inviting travellers at London's St Pancras station to visit its travel capsule for a chance to experience the inside of a Citadines apartment.Visitors were taken on a virtual journey to London, Paris or Berlin via a giant screen and headset, and shown how to immerse themselves in the city life of London, Paris or Berlin. This included tips from local bloggers on little-known visitor attractions and the best off-the-beaten-track places to eat.Nancy Faure, vice-president of marketing sales for Citadines Europe, said, "We want to spread the word to potential new customers about our concept, hospitality, personalised service, and the contemporary design of our apartments."

Cheval 'has best online reputation'

Cheval Residences has the best reputation online of any serviced apartment company in the UK, according to a new independent report. The Serviced Apartment News Digital Benchmark Report 2015 includes research undertaken by ReviewPro of more than 331,000 online guest reviews published in the 12 months to June 2015 from 142 online travel agencies and review sites.ReviewPro studied guest satisfaction ratings for quality, the percentage of positive reviews for each brand, and the language used in each review. More than 25 serviced apartment brands were included in the report and given a Global Review Index (GRI) score out of 100.Cheval scored an "impressive" overall GRI of 92.3 per cent, according to the report. It also ranked top in the industry, with scores of 93.3 per cent for service levels, 95.6 per cent for location, 94.8 per cent for cleanliness, 93.3 per cent for rooms, and 92 per cent for positive reviews. It came second for value, with a consumer online reputation score of 88 per cent.

Corporate demand for serviced apartments soars

Demand from companies wanting short-term accommodation – particularly serviced apartments – for overseas assignees has soared in recent years and shows no sign of abating, according to new research.Knight Frank's 2016 Global Cities Report says that, over the past seven years, the number of serviced apartments has grown by 80 per cent and now totals more than 750,000 properties worldwide, some 61 per cent of them in the US and 17 per cent in Europe.It describes the private short-let market as "a potentially lucrative option" for investment, adding that online innovations in short-term lettings, such as One Fine Stay and Airbnb, have been gaining popularity among corporate travellers (see Re:locate magazine, Spring 2015 edition).So marked has this trend been that serviced apartment provider BridgeStreet Global Hospitality is now partnering Airbnb to expand the new Airbnb for Business offering to BridgeStreet's client base.Knight Frank says that, as the short-term sector grows, "ensuring uniform branding and quality levels for short-term accommodation is a challenge, particularly given that future economic growth will be dominated by emerging markets, where supply levels are coming from a lower base".ASAP's recent announcement that its quality accreditation programme – the first in the sector – was to go global should go some way towards addressing issues of consistency.From the relocation perspective, Knight Frank's report says that growth in short-term international assignments (forecast to increase to more than a fifth of all international relocations during the three years to 2017) and a fall in long-term assignments (predicted to decrease from 52 per cent to 45 per cent over the same period) mean that supply of short-term rental accommodation is not meeting demand in many markets, particularly Asia.For more Re:locate news and features on serviced apartments, click here and for more on Europe, click hereFor more Europe-focused articles, see the Autumn 2015 issue of Europe Digital Re:locate magazine. Click here to subscribe, or here to download as an app.

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