In this week’s Inside Scoop, we chat to Ben Harper, Sales and Marketing Director at Go Native, who talks about his past experience at Eurostar, and some great new projects in the pipeline.
Have you seen any trends that you think will be carried onto next year for the UK?
It has been a difficult year for the UK in general and we can only meet the demand that is there. We operate in the relocation industry, which is really driven by the demand for relocation within organisations, but problems occur when companies are not willing to spend extra money relocating staff. The other space we operate in is business travel. This is where the channel growth comes in and we are going after brand new business; the incentive is to switch people from hotels to serviced apartments.
You used to work for Eurostar – how was the shift to the serviced apartment industry?
When I started out at Eurostar, eight or nine years ago, we were challenging the marketplace and incentivising corporates to change the transportation methods they use for their employees from flying to taking the train. The first few years it was all about switching market share from the airlines to Eurostar and we did a great job of it, purely because it was a no-brainer: it was more efficient, more enjoyable, more productive, more cost-effective and a more environmentally friendly way to travel. I see serviced apartments as a similar thing. We’re aiming to gain market share, but also to increase awareness of what we do as a more efficient, more effective solution. So it is a very similar marketing challenge.
Can you tell us a little about your latest properties?
Yes. We launched Sussex Gardens at the beginning of the summer which is 63 units in Lancaster Gate, a fabulous building and really competitively priced. A few months ago we had our latest launch event at our new property on the edge of the City in Aldgate East. They are warehouse-style loft apartments, which are really cool.
I love that there is character, the warehouse one sounds really great.
From a product point of view, that’s where we see we can make differences. Most of our apartments are pitching themselves at younger professionals, middle management, and people coming in on projects. The product needs to be right. We have to realise that they want to be able to use their laptop with Wi-Fi and they want enough space to be able to hang out in the apartment. It’s not eat, sleep, get dressed, go to work. Our brand positioning is ‘welcome to the neighbourhood’, so we want people to have a unique local experience when they stay with us.
What does SilverDoor do for your business?
Loads – SilverDoor are our most effective partner. It’s a partnership based on open and transparent communication, similar values and similar ambitions. I would consider us both to be quite young and dynamic organisations. I think the growth that you have is incredible and I think in the agency space you guys are leading it. Very simply what you do for us is give us consistent and continual good business. When we get the product right for you we can rely on SilverDoor to really deliver for us.
A few quick fire questions:
London or New York: I want a Manhattan loft-style apartment in New York, and a nice country house in Kent.
Shirt and tie or jeans and T-shirt? A shirt and jeans…
Beyoncé or Cheryl Cole? Both scare me. And you can quote me on that.
Blondes or Brunettes? My wife is blonde. Done deal.
Tea or coffee? Depends what time of day. Tea first thing and then coffee.
Look out for next week’s Inside Scoop with Dolphin Square, in which we discuss the weird and wonderful history of their apartments and their enthusiasm for getting more involved in social media.