Serviced Apartment News talks to Quest's CEO about rebranding, terminology and expansion to the UK.
• How did you begin your career in the serviced
"I have a background in finance and law, spending almost a decade at global advisory firm, Ernst and Young before entering this industry. I worked as an advisor for Quest for many years while at Ernst and Young before being appointed general manager of Quest in 2011, taking on the role of CEO in 2013."
• What do you think are the main benefits of the recent Quest rebrand?
"The rebrand is about modernising and future-proofing the Quest brand, moving in a more premium direction to appeal to a new generation of business travellers. It indicates our commitment to continually raise the bar in apartment hotel design and aesthetic, ultimately providing our guests with a superior lifestyle when travelling for business. The rebrand also reflects an ongoing commitment by our network of franchisees to the delivery of a personalised guest experience, to not only meet but exceed the needs of tomorrow's business traveller."
• Do you think the rebrand will help to increase the proportion of leisure travellers who stay at Quest properties?
"Our key priority is always our core market of business travellers, as they comprise around 80 per cent of our total client base. We are striving to strengthen our appeal to reach the growing market of millennial travellers who have different needs and accommodation preferences. The name change from serviced apartments to apartment hotels reflects our ability to offer the best of both worlds - the attentive and personalised service of a hotel, combined with the spacious layout and facilities found in an apartment."
"As we build our brand in this regard, I think our appeal to the leisure market will indeed grow, however we currently find that many of our guests who stay with us for their business travel needs also choose to stay at a Quest property for their family holidays and when visiting friends and relatives."
• Is the serviced apartment/aparthotel concept better established in Australasia than Europe and other territories?
"There are a number of terms used to describe varying types of short-stay serviced apartment accommodation in Australia, from residences to serviced apartments to apartment hotels. Quest recently undertook consumer research internally which showed business travellers prefer the term 'apartment hotels' when seeking accommodation, and since we do offer the functionality and benefits of both an apartment and a hotel we thought best to change our name to better describe our offering."
"Furthermore, the understanding, penetration, and consistency in the product offering of the apartment hotel category in the accommodation industry in Australasia is much stronger than other parts of the world - the market share of apartment hotels in the accommodation sector is around 25 per cent, compared with about five per cent in the United Kingdom. This equates to about one in every four accommodation rooms in Australasia being an apartment, meaning that there is very strong consumer recognition of the apartment hotel concept. The breadth of the apartment hotel product offering in overseas markets has led to a degree of disparity in the category, which presents an opportunity for us in the future."
• How did Quest's partnership with Ascott come about and what benefits does it bring both companies?
"We wanted a partner with an established global footprint in the industry who understood the asset class of serviced apartments, and The Ascott Limited was the perfect fit. Ascott and Quest have complementary strengths, shared corporate values and can leverage each other's knowledge across customer, operations, marketing initiatives and exploring further growth opportunities, benefitting both parties. The partnership will ensure we can continue to accelerate our growth within the domestic market - an opportunity bolstered by the strength and appeal of the new premium Quest Apartments Hotels brand."
"Customers of Quest and Ascott will also benefit from the partnership, as it provides guests with access to a global network of locations and accommodation choices."
• Do you have plans to roll out the Quest franchise model to Europe the US and beyond?
"Our focus right now is on the Australian market - specifically our key growth markets of Western Australia, Queensland and New South Wales. Quest is continuing to expand rapidly across Australia, opening an average of eight brand new properties each year over the last decade. During the coming 12 months, 14 new locations are scheduled to open, predominantly in our key growth markets. We have already done some preliminary work in the UK, and hope to have a team on the ground there within 12 months to start the process of assessing and securing suitable sites for new Quest Apartment Hotel properties. Further along the track, there may be the potential for Quest to explore other overseas markets beyond the UK. "