ASAP 2015 Convention to address key issues for the serviced apartments industry

As Re:locate Global has previously reported, the serviced apartments sector is experiencing an phenomenal rate of growth, particularly in Europe as companies look to the continent as a gateway to new markets.

Association of Serviced Apartment Providers
The demand from companies wanting short-term accommodation for overseas assignees – particularly serviced apartments – has soared in recent years and shows no sign of abating, according Knight Frank's 2016 Global Cities report. The regulation and improvement of standards in such a rapidly growing industry will be the focus of the ASAP annual convention.Knight Frank's 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.The report also finds that, while short-term assignments are forecast to grow to over a fifth of all international relocations in the three years to 2017, long-term assignments are expected to fall from 52 per cent to 45 per cent over the same period, which means that supply of short-term rental accommodation is not meeting demand in many markets, particularly Asia.Tom Bill, head of London residential research at Knight Frank, commented, "Cities that embrace the flexibility of models like serviced apartments will reap the economic rewards."And as we reported in our summer issue of Re:locate magazine, 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.The Knight Frank report also highlights the challenges set by so-called "business disrupters" such as Airbnb, that were recently discussed at the CBI's annual conference. "Despite many companies favouring serviced apartments for reasons of transparency and uniformity of service and quality, Airbnb is increasingly targeting corporate travellers and aims to grow a side of its business that currently accounts for 10 per cent of stays."In October, BridgeStreet Hospitality announced a new collaboration with Airbnb and unveiled 'Airbnb for Business' product suite offerings to BridgeStreet's well-established client base.The two brands aim to offer guests an array of options to fit any business travel budget, style or need, from the consistency of BridgeStreet's six distinct brand tiers, to a memorable, localised accommodations experience like a house boat."This is an interesting partnership that will close the gap in introducing shared economy services to a managed corporate program. Both Airbnb and BridgeStreet are creative thinkers that are clearly defining choice for the modern traveller, who are seeking quality and value," said Michelle De Costa Senior Category Strategist, Procurement, Liberty Mutual Insurance. "And those are two concepts that are not often used in the same sentence."However, there are some in the industry and particularly among business travel buyers who remain anxious about the consistency of standards across the sector.The Association of Serviced Apartment Providers' (ASAP) 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 and this will no doubt be debated at length at the ASAP Convention on the 3 December 2015.

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