Canada’s serviced apartments sector rises to the challenge

As alternative short-term accommodation solutions continue to gain ground internationally, we discover how two of Canada’s leading serviced apartment companies are adding value for companies and their relocating employees and international assignees.

Downtown Toronto
Like their counterparts in other parts of the world, Canadian serviced accommodation companies are responding enthusiastically to the challenges of supporting relocation moves and international assignments.We asked representatives of two leaders in the field, one focusing on the east of Canada and the other on the west, for their perspective on the current state of provision and their tips for corporate clients needing to source this type of accommodation for their employees.DelSuites has more than 370 serviced apartments split over 16 locations in Greater Toronto, Canada's financial hub. Marketing manager Suelyn Bloye told us that demand for serviced accommodation there was strong."Many companies have their Canadian headquarters in downtown Toronto," she explained, "and are looking for temporary housing for their employees within close proximity of their work."DelSuites' locations are close to business and entertainment districts, major attractions, transport links, shopping and restaurants, all of which, Ms Bloye said, are important to its guests. The company caters for corporates and individuals, the majority of them inbound from the US. Guests from Europe are also on the increase, thanks to immigration and project-related assignments.

Supporting relocation

Relocation is an important sector for DelSuites. Said Suelyn Bloye, "We see the relocation companies as an extension of our sales team. We understand that companies want one point of contact for worldwide solutions, so we strive to make DelSuites the go-to provider in Toronto for our relocation partners."Conferences such as those of the Canadian Employee Relocation Council (CERC) and Worldwide ERC show that the relocation business is always changing."The investment in the relationship between supplier and relocation company is one that we pay great attention to. We have found that the more transparent both sides are, the more business both sides win."Calgary-based Imperial Suites offers serviced accommodation in Calgary, Edmonton and Montreal. Explained general manager Shannon McGuey, "We have strategically placed ourselves in 75 different locations in these three markets, to provide our clients with variety, convenience and choice in their temporary housing options."Alberta is an oil-and-gas-driven market. Industry sectors vary in terms of volume in our three locations, and extend to almost all industries. Our suites accommodate almost any guest, whether they are being relocated, are on temporary work assignments, are temporarily displaced from their homes, or are visiting for leisure purposes."Imperial Suites' guests come from locations worldwide, including Canada, the US, Asia, the United Arab Emirates, and Europe.Both companies reported that Millennials were a growing demographic among their guests. Said Suelyn Bloye, "This type of guest demands the fastest wi-fi and touch-of-a-button responses. These 'nice to haves' are now 'need to haves' if we want to be successful."

Challenges for corporates

Re:locate asked Ms Bloye and Ms McGuey what difficulties companies faced in finding suitable accommodation to support relocation moves and international assignments in Canada.Ms Bloye felt that the greatest challenge lay in finding a serviced apartment company that could provide consistency and service, and that followed government laws and regulations.She pointed out, "Several providers may have apartments in the same building, but they may supply vastly different services or furnishings. A website can only tell you so much about a property, the service level, and the team that operates the business."We suggest that companies work with serviced apartment operators that are members of the Corporate Housing Providers Association or the CERC. This shows that the provider is serious about the service it provides and the standard of its apartments."Each of the markets in which Imperial Suites provides accommodation is unique in its limitations, Ms McGuey told us. "Guests relocating to Edmonton, for example, are very area-specific. If their relocation requires their housing to be in south Edmonton, commuting from downtown is not an option. This is different from Calgary, where many relocated individuals and families accept the commute from the suburbs."Edmonton downtown lacks quality inventory because of the age of the buildings, the cost of land, and the consequently limited number of condominium developments to date."Montreal faces similar problems in the downtown core, but both markets are actively building, which will change available inventory over the next five years."

Looking ahead

We wondered what the results of Canada's recent general election might mean for global mobility, and what trends DelSuites and Imperial Suites were seeing in the serviced apartments industry.Suelyn Bloye saw possible new opportunities for apartment providers in the announcement by new Prime Minister Justin Trudeau that he was willing to increase infrastructure spending on various projects in the Greater Toronto region, and that there could be an increase in immigration over the coming years.Shannon McGuey highlighted the growing number of unregulated listings sites, where individual owners could compete with corporate housing providers, as a very real challenge for serviced accommodation providers.She said, "Lack of regulation and consistent standards will have a negative impact on our industry as whole. The opportunity in this challenge is for providers to ensure we educate the public on the difference between corporate housing and sites such as these."Look out for our Canada digital magazine coming soon!
Re:locate Winter Issue
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