Kim Ashmore from Go Native joins us in the office to talk about their new property in Monument, plans for expansion and the development of their in-house technology.
You opened a new property in Monument back in April – how’s it going?
We had a fantastic opening, which quite a few people from SilverDoor and other industry professionals attended. We’ve had high occupancy over the summer and following the opening of the apartments in Monument, we’ve received a lot of enquiries – showing that familiarisation evenings can be a huge success.
You have many serviced apartments in London; where are you looking to expand to next?
We have 160 apartments in Stratford East and there are two towers there; one of which we occupy and the other, which we’ll be unveiling in July, has 60 more apartments. Our portfolio in the West End contains mainly studios and one bedroom apartments and we’re opening half a dozen one bedroom apartments in Leicester Square. Next year we’ll be opening 90 apartments on South Bank near Shakespeare’s Globe, which is a lovely location.
How do you think technology is influencing the booking process?
Our website is currently under development and we’re hoping that when it’s finished it’ll create much more of a neighbourhood feel. Guests will be able to upload their own videos of their experience, which will subsequently create an interactive diary of guest stays – much like a visual testimonial. We’re moving so fast at the moment that we want to make sure we stay in touch with the core of our service, as well as keeping up with the pace of technology. We released our new booking tool, Ignite, last year and it has made the booking process simpler for a lot of our leisure customers.
Since introducing your new booking tool last year, how have corporates responded to it?
Corporate professionals prefer the consultative approach. They tend to book for longer, so they’re much more wary of booking something online without knowing all of the details first. Secondly, they can’t book anything longer than 28 nights because the VAT drops to 4% and an online booking tool can’t manage that. Clients want to call you and ask things like: what’s the area around the apartment like? What’s nearby? Can I have an extra bed? These things can’t be done without verbal consultancy, so anybody who’s staying for a longer period of time will want to know the ins and outs of the area and the apartment.