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Panel: What does the guest experience look like?

PA Life’s Jade Burke hosted a session at today’s Serviced Apartment Summit, where panelists discussed why technology, value for money and flexibility all come into play when booking a serviced apartment.

When staying in a serviced apartment or a hotel, the guest experience can vary greatly, depending on what the accommodation can offer.

During the Serviced Apartment Summit today, Declan Halton-Woodward, EA to CEO at Handelsbanken Wealth/Heartwood, Elizabeth Mendes Da Silva, PA and project management for mobile payments at Barclays and Simon Morrison, MD of Select Apartments, discussed what the guest experience should look like, in terms of value for money, the technology on offer and how accommodating it is to people’s needs.

Da Silva, a self-confessed hotel enthusiast, explained that she had never stayed in a serviced apartment before and expressed that she preferred the ‘flexibility’ of a hotel and how guests can indulge and often feel pampered.

Meanwhile, Halton-Woodward shared that a serviced apartment is a preferred choice thanks to its competitive price point. Apartments are usually available at a cheaper rate than a hotel and can be used for longer periods of time. He said: “They provide a solution to long-term stays, where the administrative burden of short term renting is far too great.”

A hot topic was the fact that the current serviced apartments in the market aren’t taking advantage of the technology on offer. For example, Morrison revealed that Select Apartments doesn’t offer an app which guests can use to book a stay.

For many assistants, using an accessible booking service is essential for their busy schedules, and by incorporating a higher standard of technology, more guests would be inclined to use an apartment.

On the other hand, many apartments allow guests to ‘look after themselves’. For example, they can do their own laundry, cooking and have more than enough space to work, while also finishing off their emails during the evening. This often isn’t the case in a hotel that can only offer guests one room and an en suite.

Da Silva touched on the fact that every hotel also boasts a star rating – to give guests an idea of what they’ll be getting for their money, something many serviced apartments do not currently use.

Despite this, Morrison shared that Select Apartments currently uses its own independent rating system, to help guide guests. It is something that around 25 per cent of serviced apartment providers have chosen to use, however, more need to take this on board to ensure those booking their service are clear about the standard of the apartment.

No doubt the serviced apartment sector is booming, despite it being a relatively new model. However, it’s clear that the guest experience is different for everyone depending on the type of traveller you are.

For example, you may prefer being waited on inside a branded hotel, or you might like to be left to your own devices inside a contemporary apartment – whatever your preference, the serviced apartment market is here to stay. As Halton-Woodward puts it ‘think AirBnB on steroids’.