On Thursday 15th October, MRK Associates were proud to host their first panel discussion for the serviced apartment sector. The event was organised and run in conjunction with the Association of the Serviced Apartment Provider (ASAP).
The topic of this panel discussion was the impact COVID-19 had on the serviced apartment sector and how businesses have managed to evolve through the pandemic.
The panel was made up of 6 industry experts; James Foice, CEO of the Association of Serviced Apartment Providers (ASAP), Giles Horwitch-Smith, CEO of Res:Harmonics, Emilie Allain, Director of Revenue Management, EMEA at BridgeStreet, Antonio Sans, Acting Head of Revenue at Frasers Hospitality, Liz Devaney, Sales and Revenue Director at Supercity Apartments and Darryl Walker, Director of Distribution and Supply at Edyn.
Roland Seddon, Managing Director of MRK Associates, commenced the panel discussion by welcoming all 6 panellists and 100 attendees. The expert panellists introduced themselves and began the discussion by sharing their experiences during the pandemic.
All panellists agreed new opportunities were presented during the pandemic, as demand for serviced apartments increased over the past few months. The flexible nature of serviced apartments was one of the main reasons it became the preferred option for travellers rather than hotels. Businesses quickly recognised the shift in behaviour as travellers began to value cleanliness and safety surrounding COVID-19.
Subsequently, panellists discussed how the focus turned towards key workers within the first few weeks of the pandemic. Businesses had to promptly adjust to ensure they provided services tailored to their needs. Following that exchange, the issue of homelessness and the nationwide focus was discussed, leading to panellists sharing how they helped with the situation.
During the topic of what to expect over the next 6-12 months, panellists expressed how businesses will need to continue to learn more about their customers. It was predicted that there will be an increased demand in serviced apartments as the industry demonstrates its benefits. In order to generate new customers, businesses will need to drive the message that serviced apartments is a safe environment to meet up with small groups, work, live and operate all in one place.
The focus turned to discussing how serviced apartments need to compete with hotels, rather than each other. Antonio Sans, Acting Head of Revenue at Frasers Hospitality said, “We’re all in the same boat, instead of being competitors we need to be co-petitors and work together”.
The discussion concluded with thoughts around how to drive direct bookings rather than relying on OTAs, which was followed by a short discussion on what type of technology is available within the industry.
MRK Managing Director, Roland Seddon shared his gratitude toward the panellists by saying “their openness in sharing tips and thoughts with other people from their industry is exactly what we should be doing at the moment to ensure we all get through this together”.
If you missed the panel discussion and would like to watch it, you can do so on our YouTube channel here.
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