The global serviced apartment industry - how does it feel?

George Sell By George Sell
Uploaded 1 week ago

Over the course of 2017 we've staged our Serviced Apartment Summit conferences on three continents, in New York, London and Dubai, and before each one we have conducted a sentiment survey among our readership in each area to gauge their level of confidence in the economy in their region, the prospects for the sector and for their own businesses.

The results have been illuminating and occasionally surprising, revealing both similarities and discrepancies in sentiment from region to region, depending on the topic.

The surveys were compiled over a seven-month period (between April and November 2017) so allowances must be made for a changing geo-political landscape, but there are still some fascinating insights to be taken from the polls.

When asked about whether they are more or less confident about the prospects for the serviced apartment sector (including aparthotels, extended stay hotels, branded residences etc) Europe and the Middle East were the most optimistic regions, both with just over 60 per cent of respondents more optimistic than they were in 2016. In the Americas, the figure was 40 per cent - although interestingly, 80 per cent of US respondents were more optimistic about the US economy than they were the previous year.

Asked about prospects for their own businesses, 64 per cent of European respondents were more optimistic, compared with 60 per cent in MEA and 50 per cent in the Americas.

In Europe, 63 per cent of operators have taken on new units in past 12 months, and 79 per cent are planning to take on more in the next 12 months. In the Americas, nearly 60 per cent of operators have taken on new units over the last 12 months, with a huge range (from two units to 1700) showing the diversity of the respondents. Two-thirds of operators (66 per cent) are planning to take on more units over the next 12 months, with a range of five to 2,000 as their stated target. In MEA, despite concerns over oversupply in some regions, more than 70 per cent of operators have taken on extra units in the last year, and 90 per cent are planning to take on more in the next year.

Respondents were asked which markets in their region they expected to see achieve the most growth, and which would struggle. In Europe, Amsterdam, Germany and Dublin were the three markets respondents think will see the most growth over the next 12 months, while London, Paris, and Spain are the markets tipped to struggle. Markets which MEA respondents think will see the most growth over the next year include Dubai, RAK, Kenya and Uganda. Markets which they think will struggle include Abu Dhabi (oversupply), Nairobi (oversupply) and Doha (political situation).

One subject where attitudes varied widely among regions was the sharing economy. In Europe, 82 per cent think the sharing economy has been broadly beneficial to the serviced apartment sector, and 55 per cent of operators polled are listing on Airbnb or similar. In the Americas, just 36 per cent thought it has been broadly beneficial, with 42 per cent of those polled listing inventory on sharing economy and short-term rental websites. In the MEA more than 70 per cent think the sharing economy has been broadly beneficial, with a similar number listing inventory on sharing economy platforms.
 
But any reticence towards the sharing economy has not stopped many operators from considering demographic trends, with 44 per cent of European operators saying they have introduced new product or altered existing product to be more attractive to millennials and younger travellers. A further 23 per cent haven't yet but are planning to. In MEA more than 60 per cent have introduced new product or altered existing product to appeal to this audience.

Those polled were asked about how the proportion of OTA business compared with direct bookings had changed over the last year. In Europe 33 per cent have had more direct bookings, 29 per cent had more OTA business, and 38 per cent said the figure was about the same. In the Americas, 27 per cent had seen an increase in the proportion of bookings from OTAs, 17 per cent have seen more direct business, and 56 per cent reported a similar mix.

Nearly half (47 per cent) of European operators expect the proportion of leisure business to increase over next 12 months, with half of those in the MEA region expecting a similar trend.

Our next event is the Serviced Apartment Summit Europe Recharge, which is taking place in Amsterdam on January 23 and 24. Click here for more information.

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