Every guest comes to stay in a serviced apartment with different needs and expectations. So how do you meet them? They key is how you deal with problems, not what you offer from the outset.
In 2014, the serviced apartment market in the UK has rapidly expanded. In central London alone around 1,700 new purpose built serviced apartments are expected between now and 2018, a rise of 16.7% (Savills, 2014). In total an additional 3,400 apartments are set to come into the marketplace. While that expansion is good for the customer in some ways it can be harder for them to find a real quality experience.
This was the conundrum up for discussion at this month’s ASAP Conference in London, bringing together over 300 delegates working in the serviced apartment industry. They were providers, specialist booking agents as well as corporate businesses each with an interest in how the sector is developing, its USP and how it moves forward into 2015.
As more serviced apartments appear, price can often become a primary factor in how different providers position themselves to attract new customers. When a lot of providers are based in one location, many simply cut costs to set themselves apart. Serviced apartments are becoming more ubiquitous and customers are seeing them as a real alternative and cost-effective solution to hotels.
Yet price and location are not the only factors when choosing a suitable place to stay. An increasingly important focus and USP has to be “guest experience”. At the conference, delegates discussed the importance of treating each guest like a celebrity. We know what the celebrity experience is like; personal care and attention, always being at the end of the phone, going the extra mile. There is no reason why that “celebrity standard” can’t become the norm and the benchmark for how every customer is treated. Surely that will help each serviced apartment provider stand out against those who merely want to position themselves on price alone?
Things can go wrong in property from time to time. There are unforeseen areas and running a development isn’t the same as running your own home. However the gold standard service that can set providers apart is how they deal and respond with problems, rather than simply selling themselves cheaply to win bookings. When a customer comes with an issue that needs to be fixed what will define their stay is the response of the accommodation provider. Clear communication, offering a rapid and comprehensive solutions and ensuring the situation is diffused simply, quickly and plainly will ensure a customer’s stay is not ruined, disrupted and also that they book again.
Clarendon prides itself on customer care. Having been offering serviced apartment accommodation for 26 years we recognise the importance of ensuring each customer as that “celebrity standard” experience. Clarendon uses Feefo allowing each guest to review they stay and has an average of 93% of guests rating their stay as excellent. Our own in-house maintenance team knows each property intimately ensuring they can respond and solve any issues as they arise.
As the serviced apartment sector grows it will become increasingly important for quality providers to emphasise how their service differs from their competitors. ASAP’s quality assured programme, of which Clarendon is a member, is a step in the right direction as it establishes a standard for customer service which each provider should adhere. It gives customers peace of mind and knows that when they choose a place to stay they are making that decision based on solid foundations of safety, care and service.