Friday, May 20, 2016

The tough choice to make

There are a plethora of accommodation options that are available nowadays to guests. They can choose from luxury hotels to business hotels or budget hotels or serviced residences.  Since the options are many, guests are often left with the big decision of making a choice. While the decision might depend on various factors, like budget, location, occasion etc., there’s one particular option that is slowly but sturdily climbing the popularity charts- the serviced residences.

Serviced residences or apartments caters to people looking for both short as well as long term accommodation. As their equivalent hotels these too are equipped with all the hotel-like amenities. They stereotypically provide guest with fully furnished space along with cooking utensils. In comparison to hotels they are less expensive; benefits include more space and privacy, ease when travelling with a family, and can save money with cooking one's own meals.  They are mostly spruced with all the modern comforts one can find in a hotel.

Let’s take a look at how this segment started to gain popularity. The conception probably first started in the US. It all started with the progression of business travel and is now gaining repute in India’s hospitality industry. According to the Global Serviced Apartment Report, there’s an 80%increse in the number of serviced apartment taking it to a figure of 75000. In the 1990’s there was a lot of international travel that was happening due to economic liberalization, new set ups and joint ventures. Initially they stayed at hotels, because the concept of apartment hotels did not exist. Later when these travel started to become more frequent involving longer duration of stay, they chose to stay at any of the swelling serviced apartments.

The initial growth of serviced apartments though was driven by international business travelers or expats, the domestic business travelers have also backed in strengthening the same. Serviced apartments are gaining popularity in the urban market like Mumbai, Delhi-NCR, Bengaluru, Hyderabad and Pune. These segments are also gaining popularity with the leisure segments of travelers, as they too feel that stay at five-star hotels for longer period can get very expensive. With serviced apartments one gets the advantage of reasonably priced accommodation, more space, privacy and comfort of home cooking your own food. Some of these apartments come with high end housekeeping services and laundry.

While the Indian market has lot of stand-alone serviced apartments, many hotels are also launching new properties that would be launched as serviced apartments. They may be studio rooms or may have anywhere between one to a three bedroom. Serviced apartments that are managed and operated by hotel, the guest can enjoy all the facilities that a hotel would offer them; which include bed & breakfast, household assistance, gym, conference room and banqueting space. In simpler terms, they offer a home away from home with tremendous value for money.

Serviced apartments are here to stay and gain popularity. As of now they have major presence in metros and mini metros. In future their popularity can be extended to tier II and tier III cities such as Kanpur, Panipat, Kohlapur, Nasik etc. in many cities many such facilities are being built to meet the needs of both business and leisure travelers.

- Ms. Bindu Menon
  Sr. Faculty, INLEAD

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