Sharing in the success of the Serviced Apartment sector

The global appeal and rise of the serviced apartment sector continues, as the latest surveys show. But could big players in the sharing economy, such as Airbnb, dent its future prospects?

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Front cover of Relocate Ultra
This article is taken from Relocate Serviced Apartments Ultra 2018 - all the latest in Serviced Apartments news and Global Mobility trends. Access your digital copy here

Booking a room with Airbnb, HomeAway or any other of the myriad sites for short-term shared economy accommodation can sometimes feel like a risky enough business, despite all the safeguards and reassurance of previously good experiences.Not knowing exactly what you are paying for – and to whom – and sometimes uncertainty around its legality is bad enough. Then throw in an additional frisson of fear you’ll turn up some where in a strange city after working hours to find that your new home-away- from-home doesn’t even exist.

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Clearly, this is not the seamless, stress-free travel experience we all seek – especially as employers and travel managers are liable for employee safety, wellbeing and productivity.

Quality standards and safeguards

As the serviced accommodation sector continues to mature, global standards – such as the International Serviced Apartment Accreditation Programme (ISAAP) – are giving employers and their globally mobile contingents both peace of mind and fully compliant cost management. These are helping to meet clients’ needs as part of well-managed travel and employee mobility programmes.

Airbnb for Work is growing

Nevertheless, sharing economy accommodation sites are gaining popularity among corporate business travel managers and globally mobile populations, both as part of managed programmes or self- booked one-offs repaid through expenses.
Related reading from the latest issue of Relocate Ultra:
The number of rooms booked through Airbnb is tripling year on year, says the booking site, since it launched its business Airbnb for Work in 2014 “to make it easier to travel for work without sacrificing the comforts of home”. In 2017, 250,000 companies around the world had signed up to use Airbnb for Work. Figures released in September show that the number has more than doubled in 2018.

Who is booking Airbnb and why?

To date, this brings the number of employees from close to 700,000 companies who have signed up – and booked – with the site, covering the gamut of business travel, global mobility and relocation.

Adagio Aparthotels 

These numbers show that short-term rental providers outside of the serviced accommodation sector, such as Airbnb, are already now firmly in the corporate marketplace.From its perspective, Airbnb says that it has seen extended stays and relocations of 14 days or longer increase nearly three times. Shorter business trips for three nights or less are also “its fastest growing segment”.This suggests corporate early-adopters of the sharing accommodation model are being followed by more employers, no doubt influenced by employee preferences, the perception of wider choice, ease of booking and corporate culture.

The future?

Yet this success could also bring opportunities for further expansion in the short-term accommodation sector. Serviced apartment operator BridgeStreet.com has expanded its inventory and route to market by offering a booking platform for multiple operators.As the serviced apartment sector continues to grow and evolve, there looks to be more opportunities on all sides to meet the world’s appetite for mobility in all its forms.

Four considerations for sourcing short-term rentals and serviced accommodation

  1. Location: some cities do no not allow short-term rentals by homeowners. Secondary and tertiary cities also have a growing inventory of quality serviced apartments
  2. Safety and security: are all these features of the property up to date and in working order?
  3. Technology: are wi-fi and mobile phone signals sufficiently fast, secure and reliable enough for working?
  4. Service: how important is it to see a friendly face on check-in, introduce you to the area or have someone in to clean?

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