Covid-19 has exacted a huge toll on the travel industry, and all over the world, hoteliers and apartment operators are struggling to survive. Conditions will never be the same again. It’s likely that many operators will go bust, following in the footsteps of Flybe, Trans States Airlines, and Virgin Australia. The only way to survive the Covid-19 bloodbath is to innovate.
Fall in Revenue
Serviced apartment operators have seen a huge fall in revenue, as business and domestic travellers have had their travel plans curtailed by coronavirus. Lockdown measures implemented at the start of the pandemic prevented millions of people heading off on their annual summer holiday. The pandemic has also affected business travel – some countries like Saudi Arabia have banned international travel and many companies have furloughed staff or asked employees to work from home for the duration.
Travel restrictions are slowly being lifted, but the situation remains fluid. Domestic travel is likely to increase in the short-term, as people choose to take staycations rather than fly abroad. This is a good thing for serviced apartment operators targeting the domestic market, but they can’t afford to rest on their laurels.
Bespoke Concierge System
Because Covid-19 has impacted every area of our life, operators have been forced to innovate to survive. One Manchester-based serviced apartment operator has developed a bespoke contactless check-in process, so guests don’t have to interact with staff. The digital solution works in conjunction with the existing PMS booking system. It allows for social distancing measures while enhancing guest experience. The creator of the solution, Absurd, had this to say:
“This latest launch will not only benefit the guest experience with a quicker check-in process but it minimises contact time, enabling customers and staff to stay safe, while complying with social distancing measures. Using our unique approach, to understand both the needs of guests and CitySuites’ teams, we’re able to identify the most relevant and value-add services to bring to market … This latest service was prioritised within the development schedule to allow CitySuites to quickly adapt to changes required due to Covid-19 compliance.”
Switch to Long-Term Lets
Other operators have changed their business model to take into account a fall in the numbers of tourists and business travellers. Where there is a demand for longer rentals, some apartment owners have switched to long-term lets rather than short Airbnb-style lets. This is having a positive effect in larger cities like London, where rental housing is in short supply.
Cleaning is another area where serviced apartments have innovated to adapt to the current pandemic. Service users now expect high levels of hygiene to protect them from the risk of Covid-19 infection. Tom Smyth Belfast offers travellers a ‘home from home’ experience. In Belfast’s Dream Apartments, each apartment is fully sanitised and deep cleaned prior to a guest stay and clean linens are delivered straight to the door for longer stays. This helps to reassure guests their health and safety is a primary concern for the owners.
The only way to survive the pandemic is to innovate. In this respect, serviced apartment owners are well ahead of the curve.