SNAPSHOT: Looking to the future: Serviced Apartment Summit 2019

Paul Stevens Paul Stevens Uploaded 04 July 2019


UK: Over 250 hospitality leaders from across Europe and beyond gathered in London this week for the 2019 Serviced Apartment Summit Europe.

The event, hosted annually since 2013,  attracted 250+ CEOs, owners, operators, investors, corporate travel buyers and service providers from across the serviced apartment, extended stay / aparthotel and short-term rental markets.

Key themes discussed during the day included technology, data protection, length of stay trends, recruitment and retention challenges, co-living and co-working, and creating a sense of community.

Keynote, 'Tomorrow's hospitality technology today' presented by Jim Dolan, Managing director, Technology consulting, KPMG highlighted 'the cloud' is ubiquitous, and artificial intelligence, and robotic process automation are already in use by 1 in 4 companies today. Real-time operations management, automation, AI, workflow all exists and is in common use, and how to decrypt that is the key.

After coming off stage and listening to others, Dolan said he felt there is a "Perfect Storm" brewing from the following factors:

Lines blurring between home and work; Property purchase cost out of reach for young people; The advent of the CVAs in retail; Growing supply of serviced apartments; “As a service” becoming accepted and the norm; Oversubscription of bricks and mortar of circa 30% in the high street; The new IFRS16 Lease Accounting Standard; Millennials forcing a shift in work/life balance; Consumer expectation for flexibility and instancy growing exponentially; The rise and rise of digital communications methods and remote working; Advances in PropTech Software around management and usage of space; Adoption of the Internet of Things; Algorithmic analytics - The success of WeWork.

In the Operators Review and Outlook:

Looking forward, Nomad Aparthotels CEO Filippo Cavandoli and Yays CEO Peter Heule said one of the biggest challenges for the next 12 months centres around staff recruitment and retention.

Cavandoli and Heule both said that high turnover of staff could be countered by organised searches for talent such as recruitment events, whereby firms can identify potential workers who fit their brand culture and possess the skills to succeed in their job.

On Mixed-use: co-working and co-living:

Among the themes discussed were urbanisation, co-living and experiences, leading to trends such as population growth and a reluctance to commute from outside the London area.

Daniel Jung of Quarters, Medici Living the €1 billion Corestate Capital backed company said that as living space becomes more expensive in metropolitan areas, guests are changing their behaviour in terms of booking, checking in, and general guest experience. In this sense, mixed-use scheme developments are coming more to the forefront as they can facilitate these needs more readily.

Agreeing with Jung, Volker Thamm of SV Hotel said co-living areas would be key for a younger professionals in the global workforce, citing a figure that 45 per cent of apartments are singularly occupied in Zurich today, but that they must retain private areas whilst being efficient with spatial layouts.

The panellists agreed on the fact that more younger professionals do not want to step on the housing ladder, however mixed use developments with co-living aspects would need the addition of community spaces to create a sense of belonging, avoid loneliness and mix with other co-workers.

Thamm said: “Co-living and co-working will be the future. We learnt that distance between work and living becomes less important if you want to stay longer.”

On Essential data and market insight:

STR director Thomas Emanuel provided a fascinating insight into growth areas with serviced apartments such as London and Edinburgh, which are experiencing the highest growth in supply as well as high performances for attracting guests.
On that note, Emanuel talked about the launch of a serviced apartment pilot in London, where five operators, including SACO, AKA and BridgeStreet, came together to help determine length of stay trends.

The pilot’s results showed that:
Occupancy rates are highest in studio apartments
The average length of stay in London is 6.1 days
The percentage of extended stay accommodation located in London is 28 per cent
The average length of stay is highest currently in one-bedroom apartments

Emanuel concluded that the serviced apartment industry is entering a significant growth phase, particularly in terms of supply and average daily rates (ADR).

On Data, hacking and AI:

Doron S. Goldstein of Katten Law spoke about the importance of data in discovering length of stay trends, as “information allows for inferences”. AI can create a situation where operators can feel as if they actually already know their guests and their behaviour.

On the other hand, Goldstein warned that sharing data leaves the drawbridge open for hackers to access data and potentially blackmail guests, which led to the implementation of GDPR a year ago. Serviced apartment companies that have already put in place compliance programmes are reducing the likelihood and severity of any phishing attacks, so stronger data protection and increased security requirements are needed.

On Apartments: design of the future:

When it came to interactive group discussions, Belform’s Benjamin Oeckl proposed how future apartments would look in ten years’ time and the group created a list of the features they said they expected to see:

• Security
• Adaptable space (moving walls, robotic furniture)
• Sound proofing
• One device
• Personalisation
• Sustainable - furniture, motion sensors, room temperature, paint
• Customisable view
• Outdoor space

From this, Oeckl said that as serviced apartments integrate more technology, apartments will have to keep a profile of ‘us’, whether it is in the form of sensors being built into everything we touch or even projections on walls.

As the global population increases to such a point where seven billion people will be living in cities, the group referenced The Collective, who were in attendance as the brand that's starting to lead the way in the co-living space.

On Meet the Leaders: drinks with the bosses

The panel, which consisted of Anja Mueller (Adagio), Stephen McCall (SACO) and Harvey Hernandez (Newgard Group, Niido and Natiivo) tracking and retaining talent kept coming back to the forefront of the conversation.

The panellists highlighted how millennials or “Generation Y” are using different platforms to find jobs in the hospitality sector. While Mueller said that company content must be “human” to attract new employees, McCall and Hernandez pointed out that potential recruits must not be introverted and have the passion that aligns with the brand culture in the first place, which will help them to identify the best workers who will stay in the sector.

To download the speaker presentations from the Summit click here.

A report of ENGAGE - the corporate travel buyer event that was hosted simultaneously at the Summit will follow shortly

Attention will now turn to IHM’s upcoming Serviced Apartment Summit Middle East and Africa (SAS MEA), which takes place on 16 September in Dubai, UAE. The SAS MEA event is the only b2b conference in the Middle East for the serviced apartment, branded residence, aparthotel, corporate accommodation and short-term rental sectors.

Tickets are now available for the event at the website here.



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