Agility is key in the ever-evolving world of hospitality

Staying agile can ensure organisations survive and thrive during a period of rapid change. Marc Sandfort discusses how The Ascott Limited has utilised an agile model in order to succeed and grow.

Citadines Barbican London reception
In the midst of the fourth Industrial revolution, agility is key for any sector and company to adapt to changing economic trends and new consumer habits. In my experience, three cornerstones to achieve agility are:
  • having flexible business models
  • making it easy and convenient for customers to do business with you
  • having agile team members

Expansion through flexible business models

As one of the leading international serviced residence owner-operators in the world, The Ascott Limited with 74,000 serviced residence units in over 130 global cities has evolved from an owner-operator to a company also developing opportunities with franchises, strategic alliances, leases and management agreements, helping to grow into new geographies, such as the USA, Turkey and Africa.By investing in strategic partnerships and more flexible business models, we have seen international growth and a presence in regions we haven’t been in before, doubling our property portfolio from 40,000 units to 80,000 in just five years! Part of this expansion has seen us welcome a property on New York’s Fifth Avenue. After rebranding before the end of 2018, it will mark the debut of Ascott’s first Citadines serviced residence in the US.
Marc Sandfort
Marc Sandfort, area manager UK, The Ascott Limited
Following this acquisition, we have made recent purchases of Synergy Global Housing (80 per cent), expanding Ascott's footprint in the US and Quest Apartment Hotels (increasing Ascott’s stake in Quest from its current 20 per cent to 80 per cent), propelling Ascott to become the largest serviced residence provider in Australasia. This allowed us to significantly enhance and expand our offering to various guest segments, such as the relocation market.Relocation and long stay guests can provide an excellent source of long-term business and have the potential to greatly boost year-round occupancy, especially over periods that are less popular for leisure travellers.To further expand our global footprint, we have adapted our business model and evolved our hospitality offering to suit the needs of our changing clientele that diversify across generations and geographical locations. As the industry develops and adapts to new technologies and opportunities, it is vital to remain agile and provide a service that will meet these guests' expectations.Catering for millennials who love to travel on their own terms, we have launched our lyf brand; a concept designed by millennials for millennials that offers communal spaces and shared facilities to enhance collaboration.As the sharing economy develops and more choice of accommodation facilities follow, Ascott is able to thrive through opening consumers’ minds to the benefits of and the freedom offered by a serviced apartment, complemented by the more traditional security and services of a branded hotel. Ascott’s Citadines apart'hotels enable guests to tailor their preferences to create a bespoke home away from home; from choosing living spaces, fully equipped kitchens, washer dryers and dining tables to rooms sleeping up to six people.
Citadines Barbican London

Pushing towards innovation

To remain an agile leader, business innovation and "permission-to-fail" are critical to achieve breakthrough results.Using the example of our team in Europe, we have dedicated ‘Innovation’ champions in France, UK and Germany who engage with incubator programmes and start-ups to identify new technologies that are worth trialling.We are currently trialling a mobile check-in system, mobile content streaming facilities in the apartments, as well as streamlining communication channels for our guests.

Maintaining an agile workforce

Aside to managing properties globally and our entire customer base, our staff are fundamental to the success of Ascott across our regions.With communication spanning across global teams, to operate efficiently we have full trust in our employees and empower them to make decisions.We recognise the hard work by our employees and through acknowledging their brand dedication, we offer a TAGEX programme allowing them the chance to move abroad and experience another culture for up to six months with job security and a life experience in a safe environment.Looking ahead, Ascott is continuing its drive to stay agile around these cornerstones and to further double its portfolio to 160,000 units in the next five years.For related news and features, visit our Serviced Apartments section. Find out more about our upcoming Relocate AwardsRelocate’s new Global Mobility Toolkit provides free information, practical advice and support for HR, global mobility managers and global teams operating overseas.Access hundreds of global services and suppliers in our Online DirectoryClick to get to the Relocate Global Online Directory