T he serviced apartment business model is much in demand driven mainly by frequently travelling executives of MNC and domestic companies. The objective is to provide travelers a ‘home away from home’ explains Rex A. G. Nijhof, General Manager, Renaissance Mumbai Convention Centre Hotel & Lakeside Chalet Mumbai, Marriott Executive Apartments.
Moving to a new country or a continent can be challenging, but if you find a place that gives you the comfort and security, just like your home, things can be pretty easy. Serviced apartments were introduced in the US, in the early 1960s. More than 80% of the existing stock of Serviced Apartments is still there. As business travel emerged as a potential segment in India, the demand for executive apartments started mushrooming in Indian hospitality landscape.
Although Executive Apartments and Hotels are two different entities in terms of concept, product, service, design, guests, etc. the element of hospitality both of them offer is common. Executive apartments are meant to deliver a home-away-from-home feeling to guests with traits of a home in terms of living area, drawing-dining space, wellstocked kitchenette, etc. Hotels, on the other hand, are meant to service short-stay or transient guests with smaller rooms with limited amenities.
Travelers who majorly contribute to service apartment’s growth are corporate travelers, and tend to be senior management employees and expats with an average stay of six months to one year. The basic amenities that these travelers look for are international professional service standards, Wi-Fi and complementary parking and work from home facilities.
There is a different segment of audience on the list who are leisure travelers who tend to relocate with their families or as an individual, plan extended holidays or family visits for a longer duration. This demands is of a homely environment, good connectivity and scrumptious food along with self-cooking facility. Thus, the trend is to provide these guests options and facilities which are children friendly and pet friendly to make their stay comfortable. Another emerging trend is that of Medical Tourism, where it is essential for service apartments to be located near medical facilities and hospitals, for people who have to stay long for treatments.
Safety and security standards will always remain strongest reason for favoring executive service apartments, especially who travel to India for the first time. Senior and high level employees expect their trips to be of their living standards and hence opt for an executive apartment rather than residential complex. At an executive apartment, everything is taken care by the apartments, it skips the need of coordination for housekeeping, engineering and other daily routine utilities. Also they offer flexible payment options with no minimum lease period and deposits.
The Changing Profile
According to Global web index 2015, about one in ten business travelers have an international vacation on a monthly basis. They are five times ahead of the average person and increases the scope of travel and hospitality sector.
Business travelers do not travel only for work purposes – they’re also prolific when it comes to taking personal breaks at home and abroad, a trend which is probably being driven, in part, by this audience extending business trips to add personal days at the start or end. The space provided by an executive apartment is much more compared to a hotel room. The extra living space in serviced apartments and especially having a kitchen, separate bedroom, laundry facility adds significant value.
The most compelling evidence is the changing profile of serviced apartment customers which has been noticed through the OTA platforms. Online operators like Expedia, Booking. com has led to leisure bookings and business from small and medium size companies, as seven in ten business traveler describe themselves as being constantly connected online. Another key element that is appreciated in an executive apartment is the fact that it is a gated community. A guest will love to stay in a community rather than a hotel, which makes it easier for them to network, make smaller and familiar groups for them to socialize with as well.