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.
Technology advances are happening all the time and more questions arise each and every day. While reading USA Today’s Tech section, Kim Komando’s column jumped out. Below are some great questions and answers for not only business travelers, but everyone who uses technology.
Q: What should be done if my smart phone is stolen?
Whenever you get a new smartphone, you should be sure that all of your data is backed up and have an app that will automatically wipe your phone clean and track its location. FindMyPhone is an app that you can download onto any Apple products, Android, or Google Play. This app will let you locate your phone, lock your device, erase all your data, etc. You should always have your devices set up with a password also in case it ever does get taken. Never leave your smartphone unattended in public. CarboniteMobile is another app that works with Apple or Android devices that will protect your smartphone.
Q: How can an older camera be updated to make it faster?
A: You can always update your camera’s firmware which should make it faster and might also add some new features. Refer to your user manual to see if they have any quick tips of how you can update your camera. Also, check out the manufacturer’s website which should have the new firmware software listed. Be sure to clear your SD card before you install the update(s) to your camera.
Q: Should a public wi-fi network be used for sensitive information such as banking?
Public networks are unsecure and so it isn’t advisable to use them to check your finances here or anything with sensitive, secure information. Most banks have a mobile app that can be downloaded and used on your mobile network which is more secure if it is necessary to check your account(s) while on the go.
Q: Is there anyway to send text messages for free?
A: Yes, there are several free apps that you can download that will allow you to send text messages for free.
Whatsapp is an app that works with Apple and Android devices that allows you to text anyone with the app for free – including internationally! You can also send pictures, share your location, have a group chat, etc.
TextFree is an app that allows you to text any number – even if it’s not a smartphone – for free. This app gives you a real number to use and you can accept inbound calls for free too. They also give you 10 minutes free to make outbound calls and additional minutes can be purchased for a low rate. This app is available for Apple and Android devices.
These are just some of the numerous technical questions and answers that are floating around out there. Hopefully this helps you save money and time and will allow you to have more fun on your smartphone and other devices safely. 🙂
You can’t always be near your children but you would still like to have that peace of mind that they are okay. Here are 9 apps/devices that will make keeping your children safe a little bit easier:
Life360 Family Locator: A free app designed for iPhone or Android that you install on your kids/family phones and on your phone and then you can track where they are on a map.
Vigilant PPS22BL 130dB Personal Alarm. Arm you kids with a mini, key-chain sized alarm to scare off an attacker or warn others that they are in danger. It emits a high-pitched, 130 decibel sound and can be purchased for $14.99.
“Mommy I’m Here” Child Locator. This two piece set can be purchased for $24.95 and includes a teddy bear shaped device that goes around your child’s wrist or ankle and a key chain transmitter for the parents. Anytime your child gets separated from you, simply click the button on the key chain and the teddy bear will shriek allowing you to find them.
Net Nanny 6.5. Use Net Nanny to control the types of websites and games your child is able to access. This will also allow you to monitor their social media activity for the low price of $28.99.
KidSmart Vocal Smoke Detector. Prerecord your voice on this smoke detector with specific instructions to allow your children to make it to safety when there is a fire. When fire is detected, the machine will alert your kids to wake up and then will play your recorded instructions. This peace of mind detector can be purchased for $39.95.
Prodigy Infant Car Seat with SmartScreen. This car seat will help alleviate worry on the parent’s end that the car seat wasn’t installed properly. The SmartScreen technology shows you when the car seat is properly installed into the car. This tech savvy car seat is only $100.
HiSense BabySense V Infant Movement Monitor. This comes with two sensors that should be placed underneath the baby’s mattress and they will tell you if the baby has stopped moving for more than a few seconds so you can go make sure everything is okay. This smart device costs $129.
Dropcam HD Video Monitor System. This gadget is perfect for the parent working night shift. The camera can be placed in front of your baby’s bed and then you can watch it from your smart phone. If you detect movement you can even speak to your child(ren) with the attached speaker. This system costs $149.
Amber Alert GPS V3. This advanced software allows parents to set up geographic areas in which their child(ren) should be within and if ever they leave the time zone or designated area, an alert is sent to you. This device allows you to track them indoors, outdoors, and anywhere in the world for only $199.
Nothing is more important than knowing your kids are safe. These high-tech devices will help you keep a watchful “eye” on your kids even when you can’t be there with them.