The worldwide pandemic has hit the travel and hospitality industry particularly hard, yet despite the challenges, the serviced accommodation sector displayed a notable resilience to adversity. So could this prompt an increased demand for serviced accommodation post-pandemic?
In the UK, while the majority of hospitality was forced to close during lockdown, serviced accommodation pivoted to support key and critical workers by providing temporary housing. But it wasn’t just about availability. Serviced apartments and the like were better able to provide a home-from-home environment, boosting wellbeing and helping to combat stress among these workers, many of whom were separated from their families for several weeks following the rollout of social distancing and shielding measures.
And as the hospitality industry reopens, the sector has shown its worth once again. Not only is it committed to protecting the health and safety of staff and guests, but it is also better able to implement comprehensive cleaning and hygiene protocols and limit unnecessary social contact in ways which hotels, by their very nature, will find more difficult to do.
Despite the current downturn, serviced accommodation operators are confident about a market recovery. According to the latest Sentiment Survey produced by the Association of Serviced Accommodation Providers (ASAP) and Savill’s, 87 per cent of respondents believed the serviced accommodation sector was more likely to bounce back than other areas of the hospitality industry.
Elsewhere there’s a similar story. In Asia, the Bangkok Post reports 80 per cent of serviced accommodation stayed open from January into April –albeit with occupancy reduced by 30 per cent. Properties like serviced apartments remained home to extended-stay (mostly expatriate) guests on secondment or long-term corporate travel arrangements for whom it was not possible to return to their place of residence. On the other hand, most hotels (reliant on the short-stay market) were forced to shut to curb cost, seeing occupancy plummet by 50 per cent.
The study quoted in the article predicts that although serviced accommodation is unlikely to replace hotels entirely, a shift in favour of hybrid developments that incorporate both is quite possible.