Liverpool Quest lays groundwork for UK expansion

While visiting the UK for the opening of the Quest Liverpool apartments, Paul Constantinou spoke to Relocate about the company’s plans to improve the UK serviced apartment market.

Quest Liverpool city centre
Relocate Magazine January 2020
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Paul Constantinou, founder and executive chairman of serviced apartment brand Quest Apartment Hotels, is a man who clearly understands the dynamics of business and embedding in a local community to ensure sustained growth.Founded in Melbourne, Australia in 1988, Quest Apartment Hotels has grown successfully across Australia, New Zealand and Fiji to dominate those markets with more than 170 properties. Indeed, it has been so successful in moulding the brand to fit the region that New Zealand sees Quest as its own. In 2017, Ascott Limited acquired Quest and now Mr Constantinou has his sights on growth through introducing the company’s strong franchise model to the UK market and beyond.With its first UK property based in Liverpool, Quest’s franchises will need to be able to replicate what the team is doing there to create a strong local business for international and domestic corporate users. To do this they will need to know intimately what is going on in their local community, understand the dynamics of the city at a local level and the heartbeat of the local business travellers, as well as the bigger economic picture in the UK and Europe, and why business travellers and those on an international assignment or domestic relocation choose a Quest apartment.

Meeting business travellers’ needs

Mr Constantinou explains that the Quest ethos behind the corporate business model is about meeting the needs of guests and enabling the business user to  “enjoy their stay, their way”. He is quite clear about the fundamentals of business apartments, “They must be functional for people doing business. The corporate traveller is focused on getting their work done, often working late at night. Their attitude is typically ‘I don’t want to spend another week here if I don’t have to.’ For example: the most important thing for the younger business traveller is having a TV on the wall. Their phone or laptop carries all the information they need to work, but often they require the ability to stream work on the TV. The quality of that and the Internet are high experience factors – bed and broadband.”Having started his career in hotel management and catering, Mr Constantinou understands the importance of amenities – both in-room and locally. He says, “The kitchen is extremely important, even if the need is basic. If you take the kitchen away you are subjected to go downstairs to eat.” Quest does not offer on-site catering, because “if you get it wrong, it will make a lasting impression”.Instead, it has introduced arrangements with nearby restaurants in Liverpool so guests can charge their meal bill back to their room. This service is another way for the brand to bond with the local business community and it also makes for easier expense tracking.

Liverpool launch cements UK plans

So why did Quest choose to launch in Liverpool? “We looked at major trends around the world. There seems to be an exodus, with major corporates leaving capital cities, including London, for cost reasons. We see the government setting up infrastructure to support regional cities, which the professional companies and insurance companies pick up, and we follow that trend, where they are going and their accommodation demands. I don’t care how small the corporate market is in Liverpool today, Quest will own it,” he explains.

Read more about the launch of Quest Liverpool City Centre

The vibrant city centre of Liverpool capitalises on the Northern Powerhouse project, which will further stimulate business travel and support the thriving leisure market. Liverpool is a centre for pharmaceuticals, health and biomed, as well as insurance and finance. The city has attracted the Royal College of Physicians to move to a new HQ built at the heart of Knowledge Quarter Liverpool.With a solid business philosophy and experience of building up huge markets for serviced apartments, plus the weight of the Ascott brand behind it, Quest looks to find a promising market in the UK, with a tried-and-tested franchise model to role out. Mr Constantinou and the Quest brand are clearly serious about the corporate market and know how to balance it with the leisure demand. This is good news for the UK corporate market and wherever else Quest may expand in Europe.

Read more news and articles in our dedicated Serviced Apartments sector. 

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