Quick Q&A: Ken Moore, Oakwood

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• Can you give us a condensed history of your hospitality career?

"I have more than 30 years' experience in the hospitality sector, starting out as a graduate of the Holiday Inn management development program, and going on to achieve general manager positions at hotel and leisure companies across different markets, including Marriott and Le Meridien Hotels. I also held various roles within the serviced apartment and corporate housing sector, including vice president of operations."

"Before joining Oakwood, I most recently managed the development and opening of the Shanghai Town and Country Community project and the Kuala Lumpur Banyan Tree Hotel, where I was able to provide strategic oversight and guide the brands to achieve tangible results."

• You left the serviced apartment sector for five years or so to work in hotels before joining Oakwood - what would you say are the biggest changes in the sector that have happened in that time, both within the industry and in terms of external awareness of it?

"Serviced apartments have built up a far higher profile than they had five year years ago and the demand for furnished and serviced apartments continues to grow. There certainly is more awareness of Oakwood being an alternative to hotels, both on the extended stays front as well as for short stays on the aparthotel front. One of the main reasons for this industry shift is travellers being more aware of, and interested in, the idea of staying in home-like environments, such as a serviced apartment, instead of a hotel."

"In many business sectors, furnished and serviced apartments form part of the accommodation program for corporate travellers, because they perfectly support a specific business need: the globalisation of businesses and people. Over the last five years, we've also seen more companies expanding outside the borders of the countries where they began. Globalisation is driving a demand for extended stays in established and emerging markets."

"Serviced apartments offer more space and are therefore more appealing to business travellers and to those relocating. Travellers are increasingly aware of the benefits of furnished and serviced apartments, and corporate businesses are looking for value-added partners who can provide all the comfort of a home-like stay but with the flexibility of a hotel."

"Professional trade organisations such as the Association of Serviced Apartment Providers (ASAP) have also greatly supported external awareness of the sector and development of the sector internally. A perfect example of this is the ASAP's Quality Accreditation Program, which launched in 2014 and is the leading global quality assessment, reporting, recognition and accreditation system for the serviced apartment, corporate housing and executive suites sectors of the hospitality industry. Oakwood has been awarded the quality accredited operator marque for its managed properties across London, for the second year running."

• Before joining Oakwood, you spent five years in Asia - how does the hospitality sector there differ from Europe, and what do think Oakwood's Singaporean ownership bring to the company in terms of culture?

"Some leading hotels in the Asia-Pacific region may provide more affordable luxury than traditional hotels in Europe. There are also cultural differences in the region that affect hospitality, including the expected service. Many Asian hotels offer service that rivals that of the topmost hotels in Europe. Singapore's hospitality industry is always looking to evolve and improve guest experiences, they are even in some cases replacing the human touch with technology, even to the extent of using robots for service and apps to control rooms, it's a really interesting location in terms of technological advances in the hospitality industry. Oakwood being a wholly owned subsidiary of a Singaporean company, Mapletree Investments, provides us with a greater richness and depth to Oakwood's own culture and greatly expands our understanding of the Asian and global real estate industry, as well as the varying cultural norms."

"Organisations need to consider location, length of stay, amenities offered and price. In Singapore, length of stay is top of mind, as there is increased demand for shorter stays ranging from a few weeks to six months. In other markets like China, assignees are predominantly married with young children, and providing spacious accommodations within a desired neighbourhood is key to their success."

• What are Oakwood's plans for growth in Europe? Which countries and cities are you targeting?

"We intend to expand our brand footprint in gateway cities and emerging economies such as Frankfurt, Geneva, Warsaw, London and other cities in the UK. It shall be complemented by the acquisition prowess of Mapletree. These are exciting and dynamic cities that are attracting more business travellers. We are also exploring opportunities to grow our presence in more established business destinations such as Paris. Since Mapletree acquired Oakwood in 2014, they now have 11 assets in the United States and two in Asia, which are operated by Oakwood."

• Do you aim to bring the Studios and Premier brands to Europe, and if so, where?

"Overall, Oakwood is a company that is constantly evolving with excellence in mind. That said, we don't comment on specifics of some of our plans in advance. I can say that as Oakwood continues to grow, there could be some new concepts that arise in EMEA in the coming years. We want to provide offerings that give our clients and guests real and relevant solutions. Our experienced business development team are continually looking for the right opportunities to meet the demands of our clients."

• What do you see as the biggest challenges and opportunities for Oakwood in Europe over the next five years?

"I believe there will be many opportunities for Oakwood to grow in the next five years. We know that an increased focus on cost by corporations means that cost-effective solutions are quickly becoming part of our customers' requests for proposals. Also, demographic shifts present many opportunities for us. Younger travellers have higher expectations for amenities such as gyms, smart-home technology and high-speed internet. We have also found that travellers want to be more involved in the booking and decision-making process and we are enhancing and adapting our technology to reflect these growing customer demands and we will continue to evolve with the times"

Oakwood is a sponsor for a wide range of IHM serviced apartment events, including Serviced Apartment Summit RECHARGE2019 (Berlin, Germany); Serviced Apartment Summit Asia 2019 (Bangkok, Thailand - headline sponsor); Serviced Apartment Awards 2019 (London, UK), Serviced Apartment Summit Americas 2019 (NYC, US) and Serviced Apartment Summit Europe 2019 (London, UK).


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