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Operating on a level playing field: The serviced apartment industry

With Christmas fading in the distance, New Year is here with aplomb and serviced apartments are set to continue their growth spurt in 2014. The industry is steadily evolving from western strongholds to new countries and regions, and there’s potential for huge growth. As we move into 2014, standardisation could be key for a greater understanding of the serviced apartment sector. Through initiatives like the implementation of a universal ratings system, serviced apartments have plenty more room to reach a wider audience.

Simply put, companies operate differently and the consumer isn’t getting all of the information they could be because of this. Exponential growth could be achieved with a united front, where all operators and providers adhere to a code of conduct that serves the best interests of its members. This isn’t to say companies have to operate in the same way, but the implementation of a ratings system by an external body across the serviced apartment industry has the potential to instil more confidence into the consumer. The AA and national tourist boards, for example, provide a star rating to hotels in the UK, which allows consumers to differentiate between the standards. However, even this system stumbles regularly with properties being misrepresented.

The problem is that serviced apartments are difficult to measure with a star rating, as every property is unique. For example, a property may have an array of facilities, but it may be of a lower general standard, and vice versa. It’s almost impossible to compare a serviced apartment in Singapore with one in say Norwich, as ‘luxury’ standards are perceived differently depending on factors such as culture, geography and local expectations. Should the best serviced apartment in a particular city get 5 stars for being the best option around despite having relatively few features?

The industry, therefore, could benefit from an organisation, such as the HBAA, who promote a code of conduct that covers the working relationship between the agents and operators, allowing companies to communicate and operate on a level playing field. A star ratings system across the serviced apartment industry may not be possible for the reasons above, but maybe co-operative and collective collaboration is the next best thing.  

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Image: twm1340 (Creative Commons Licence)

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About the Author

Stuart Winstone

With over 15 years’ experience in hospitality and the serviced apartment sector, Stuart has gained an unparalleled knowledge about the industry and how it works. As SilverDoor’s representative on the HBAA Serviced Apartment Committee, he has a comprehensive insight in to serviced apartment news and property partners all over the globe.