Whether it’s through a lack of clarity on the part of providers, or a lack of understanding on the part of potential customers, there appears to be some confusion amongst the corporate sector regarding extended-stay, serviced apartment accommodation.
The extended-stay accommodation sector originally began in Wichita, Kansas, in 1975, featuring drive-in apartment-like hotel rooms, with kitchens and full-size appliances. However, when it arrived in the UK a few years later, the format was for private, self-contained units, rather than hotel-managed accommodation.
As a choice for accommodation in London, the extended-stay serviced apartment has developed over the years into what is now a very mature market, with a number of providers offering very varied levels of living space, from basic to the height of luxury.
However, there does seem to be some confusion, especially amongst corporate buyers, when requests for proposal (RFP’s) are being arranged. This confusion extends to a complete misunderstanding, where extended-stay apartment rentals are being continually compared with hotels when considering the procurement process and travel program requirements.
Extended-stay serviced apartments are certainly not viable for a one or two-day stay, of that there can be no doubt, and they really do only come into their own, in terms of enriching lifestyles, when the stay is seven days or longer.
Similarly, an extended stay of more than two weeks in a hotel, has been acknowledged by many, as actually contributing to a reduction in lifestyle, unless, of course, the ‘resident’ can afford a large, multi-room suite costing many hundreds – if not thousands – of pounds per night!
Unfortunately, neither the rigid RFP process nor the paperwork associated with it has changed to reflect the evolution of the modern, extended-stay serviced apartment! There seems to be almost a total lack of willingness on the part of corporates to be more open-minded to bespoke, accommodation arrangements, which, despite the extended-stay’s maturity, remains a relatively new idea to addressing staff living and lifestyles away from home.
And this appears to be a very strange attitude in harsh economic times, especially given there is an obvious cost-saving benefit to be enjoyed!
Corporate procurement experts, in their continual quest to cut costs and save their organisations money, need to examine the genuine cost benefits that can accrue from using extended-stay serviced apartments, should their staff need to spend longer than a week in London.
They also need to consider consulting with owners to develop an RFP process specifically for extended-stay serviced apartments.
More importantly, while it may sound harsh, the current comparison with hotels has to stop! Yes, you might have a comfortable, clean room with TV and a table to work on for £95 a night, but as far as entertaining colleagues, or hosting a meeting are concerned, it is essentially just a bedsit.
And with the bed on view in the corner, it is a not a particularly conducive environment for conducting a corporate brainstorming session for the following day’s meeting!
And by the time you’ve added breakfast and dinner (and sometimes even lunch!), as well as all those ‘little’ extras such as broadband, phone and television, having your shirt cleaned and either that tempting bottle of mineral water from the in-room fridge, or a surreptitious trip down to the rather expensive hotel bar, your costs will have increased dramatically!