A major player in the corporate housing space, Bridgestreet, just launched their brand new site which has the potential to offer instant booking – something that has since been obsolete in the corporate housing sector. The corporate housing industry has been avoiding this technology shift for quite some time since it takes away the qualities and values we strive for: outstanding customer service and satisfaction, attention to detail, and quality control. According to Skift Megatrends 2017, corporate travel is shifting with all of the changes in leisure travel, causing business travelers to expect more instant booking tools and intuitive management portals.
Sites like AirBNB, HomeAway, Expedia, Booking.com, etc. all have the capacity to allow instant bookings which ultimately gives the consumer access to more lodging choices on the extended stay spectrum:
- Hotel Room: An open room with generally a king sized bed or 2 double beds, usually with a desk space, dresser, closet and a separate full bathroom. Ideally for short-term stays of 1-2 nights.
- Hotel Suite: A larger hotel room usually with a separate bedroom and bathroom, living area with desk, mini fridge, microwave, and coffee maker. Ideally for short-term stays of 1-5 nights.
- Extended Stay Hotel: An extended stay hotel room has all of the hotel suite but also offers a kitchen and dining area including pots, pans, dishes, silverware, and other very basic kitchen necessities. Typical extended stay rooms are designed for stays of 3-7 days though they can be utilized for longer stays as well.
- Corporate Housing: A fully furnished apartment with a full-size kitchen, all appliances, and a minimum of 60+ household items. Most apartments also offer on site amenities such as fitness centers, business centers, pools, etc. Offered for 30+ day stays.
- By Owner: A privately owned property either managed by the property owner or a property manager. The By Owner segment on the lodging spectrum offers a variety of different types of property options from condos to single family residences. Think AirBNB or Home Away – individual property owners don’t necessarily understand the corporate housing industry and might not offer full kitchens, housewares, or amenities like a traditional corporate housing apartment does or a CHBO Complete or Managed Corporate Housing property offers. Depending on where the property is located, there will be different requirements for the minimum length of stay required.
- CHBO Complete: A privately owned property (condo, loft, town home, house, etc.) either managed directly by the property owner or a property management company listed on CorporateHousingByOwner.com (CHBO) that follows all of the requirements set forth by the Corporate Housing Providers Association (CHPA). Usually offered for 30+ day stays but shorter term stays might be permitted depending on where the property is located.
- Managed Corporate Housing: A privately owned property (condo, loft, town home, house, etc.) managed by a licensed residential real estate property management brokerage following the minimum standards set forth by the CHPA and rented out fully furnished for 30+ day stays.
Ultimately, creating one platform that will allow consumers to choose the type of lodging they want for their specific needs would be the best solution, especially since there are very different types available. However, getting all online travel agencies, corporate housing providers, and private owners on one booking platform will most likely never be a reality.
The corporate housing industry is a service based industry, priding itself with superior customer service which is not readily available with instant booking. Today’s consumer still needs to be educated about their lodging choice and how one might be a better fit for their needs than another. This can only be done with person to person interaction. Sure, technology can provide today’s consumers with answers right at their fingertips but at what cost? As Millennials age and start taking over the majority of business travel in the next 5-10 years, how is this going to impact the various industries supporting lodging choice? How can we all work together to provide a seamless booking experience for the new generation? These are all questions that keep us up at night in the corporate housing arena and we as an industry are actively working to continuously improve our standards and offerings not only here in the United States, but Globally as well.