Aparthotel – are you perhaps in reality just a hotel with an identity crisis?
Some people say there is no such thing as a new marketing idea, just a rework of an already-existing one. However, some of the more traditional aspects of marketing, when given a new spin, fall narrowly short of being completely irritating.
For example, “second-hand” or “used” have, over the past couple of years, suddenly transformed themselves into “pre-owned” or the totally meaningless “pre-loved”. The computer games industry encourages us to “pre-order”, itself an impossibility, seeing as you simply either order something or you don’t! And the clients of every employment consultant, without exception, seem to be “leading”, despite there never being any tangible evidence presented in their recruitment advertising.
Similarly, when it comes to accommodation, confusion reigns over “aparthotels”, with many seeming to have an identity crisis in terms of their propositional offer.
The term was originally coined – naturally enough in America – to describe a serviced apartment that is ostensibly managed and run like a hotel, with a hotel-style booking system – and while some, most noticeably in tourist resorts in the sun, do it well, others, it must be remarked, just don’t.
However, the story is very different in London, where, to put it quite simply, the providers seem to be rather confused. In their enthusiasm for generating business, they can’t quite manage to decide whether they are an apartment or hotel, aiming, as they do, at any length of stay from one night to several months!
And this in itself can be rather confusing.
If you are spending just one night in London, would you require basic cooking facilities in your room? On the other hand, should you be staying for a couple of months, would you want the often very basic cooking facilities – and the odours they leave behind – encroaching on your sleeping space?
Unfortunately, many aparthotel rooms consist of nothing more than a cleverly refashioned hotel room. Admittedly, this is sometimes because there is very little that owners can do to generate space in rooms within an existing – and often listed – Victorian building in the centre of London. However, the fact remains many are in essence just large rooms, containing either a kitchenette or foldaway kitchen (often with just two cooking rings and an integral microwave), and any entertaining or working takes place in the same room as the bed occupies.
So while it may be described as a self-contained aparthotel room, what you see is what you get – a room! And this is one of the most obvious negatives – the lack of space, altogether unsuitable for engendering a comfortable extended stay.
Executives arriving in London for an extended stay will, aside from requiring a reasonable amount of space for their stay, more often than not require privacy, whether for working during the day, or hosting colleagues.
Many aparthotels, because of their close connection to the hotel format, organise events and social gatherings where guests are afforded – and sometimes expected to take – the opportunity to gravitate away from their cold and impersonal solo living and engage with others in the building.
However, aparthotel owners often don’t realise that the extended stay executive probably won’t wish to make use of this facility, something the aparthotel may not necessarily appreciate, particularly if it is reliant on extra upselling activities, such as dinner, or beverages in the bar, to maintain a level of profitability.
On a practical level, if an extended-stay visitor has a group of colleagues or his family in tow, the format really doesn’t lend itself at all well to providing the space and facilities expected from a temporary home-from-home base.
The bottom line is that aparthotel owners really have to make a realistic decision for themselves as to exactly what they are and what they offer.
Extended-stay serviced apartments have it all – space, facilities, privacy and cost-saving benefits.
An aparthotel is too closely allied to the hotel format to really be practical for a longer, extended stay in the capital.