Citybase Apartments’ Operations Director, Imogen Brettell, shares her thoughts on the serviced apartment industry.
Imogen Brettell: Thoughts on the Serviced Apartment Industry:
Transcription On awareness
My first impressions of the industry after only three months, initially it’s the awareness of serviced apartments as an accommodation option in the corporate and business market, the awareness is growing.
In terms of the leisure side of the business I don’t feel the serviced apartments as a name is known as well as it could be.
I also feel the benefits to the serviced apartment isn’t getting out there to encourage members of the public look at it as an option.
I think the emergence of Airbnb has given consumers a different option and because it’s so much in the limelight and it’s being spoken about so widely, people are now looking for different options and exploring more what’s out there so I don’t think their necessarily competition for us because what we offer is very different.
I think they’re more for travellers who are willing to explore the unknown and maybe take that little risk with what they’re booking.
Whereas with serviced apartments we would rather go for something that we know, something that we have viewed something that we can give confidence to the consumer and exactly what they’re booking.
I don’t think it’s a bad thing; I think it’s something that has encouraged people to be more aware of what’s available and possibly search more for what’s available.
Quality assurance is key, particularly to corporate clients who are booking on behalf of other people they want to make sure that what they are booking is safe and secure and meet quality standards and they’re not putting their clients at risk of the unknown
On travelling with a family
In terms of traveling with a family, I would want to know that where I’m staying is the best possible option for my children as well as myself and for me health and safety will be key to them
I don’t want to take them somewhere where I can’t be assured that they’ve got all the right regulations in place.
On live availability and instant booking
So more and more, this day and age travellers are looking online to book their accommodation needs. So they’ve gone to find an apartment and we do have that instant availability where they can book a live booking online.
On personal service
However there’s no substitute to speaking to a human being and getting information on what exactly is available
It gives the consumer much more confidence in what they’re booking.
Personally I find it frustrating when I can’t speak to someone directly to discuss exactly what my requirements are and make sure that what I booking meets them.
At Citybase we try and provide a complete end-to-end solution for their accommodation needs; it’s not just about booking an apartment it’s about the whole service so we look at all the extras that someone might need from their stay for example, information about the local area; things they can do for free in the local area; different travel options; different places to eat.
So it’s about making the whole booking experience much better for the consumer.
On knowing your product
The key to being successful in this business is knowing the product so one of the things that we do consistently is to visit the accommodation that we are booking to know what’s on offer; not just to know the accommodation itself but to know the facility surrounding it, to know what’s the best rate, to know the area, to know the location.
One of the key things about finding out what the customer actually needs and wants with their accommodation. The account managers’ role is to make sure that they can fit that best with all the knowledge they have.
On the serviced apartment industry
The serviced apartment sector needs to really get its name out there, it needs to make sure that people know and understand what a serviced apartment can offer and how it’s different to places like Airbnb and an even to hotels, how it can give the space value and freedom that isn’t available from other forms. They really need to focus on making sure that the quality of the accommodation is second-to-none. ASAP are really leading the way with their accreditation program but I still think there’s more to do to get more providers on board with it.