Clarendon’s Head of Marketing Peter Morgan was in Florida last week for an annual conference for those who provide corporate housing. Here he reflects on the key industry trends and how it will affect what we provide for our guests.
Last week Clarendon jetted to the sunny climes of Orlando, Florida for the annual CHPA (Corporate Housing Providers Association) last week. In the UK we’re usually 12 to 15 months behind what is happening in the US so it’s also insightful, and useful, to learn from the educational sessions and meetings with fellow Corporate Housing Providers representing all corners of the United States and Canada.
The three day programme was packed with round table break-out sessions enabling delegates to connect and dig beneath the surface of current issues/trends. The underlying theme of the conference was information, content and delivery of in a concise format to help bookers and guests with the selection and decision making process.
Helping people find what they want quickly and effectively remains a high priority in the US. It’s slightly different there as the corporate housing model is typically operated from large condo’s (Condominium’s) blocks, compared to the UK where inventory can be spread across various buildings. Airbnb continues to be a cause of contention, with split opinion with regard to the part it plays in the sector. What is for certain, they aren’t going away and with their ongoing campaigning at local level re; planning regulations on both sides of the pond ( as well as recognising the longer stay guest through provision of corporate housing solutions via a sublet section of their website) they continue to challenge operators to be smarter, differentiate product and be unique.
In terms of trends some changes might come as a surprise. Interestingly the US now consider DVD players to be outdated and are removing these from all but family sized apartments; More guests are watching films and TV through online streaming of content and movies. Landline phones too are viewed as surplus to what the new generation guest needs. The millennials, Facebookers and selfie generation is tech savvy and stays connected 24/7 through their smartphones. We are surely going to see these trends amongst others appear in the UK in the coming year as operators look to refine and customise product to meet the ever increasing demands from the modern day traveller.
Other sessions revolved around content and providing relevant information to assist companies and the end users in making informed decisions. Pretty much common sense….right? Wrong! Guests are increasingly looking for a higher level of information aside to apartment specifics, informing them on a local level of what there is to see and do in an area. Travel times and proximity to offices, attractions, local amenities, even the nearest Starbucks coffee shop! This does make sense, after all it’s a lifestyle these people seek, they aren’t staying for a few days more so it’s a few weeks or months at a time, often in a new or unfamiliar areas.