Travel Buyer Insight: Trends and Challenges Affecting Corporate Housing

Perspectives from Synergy’s Global Supply Chain Team

In the ever-evolving landscape of providing furnished housing for corporate travel and mobility, accommodation providers find themselves navigating a sea of challenges. From disruptive technology to government regulation to evolving guest preferences and the tightening of travel budgets, there’s a lot happening in the sector. Here, we cover some of the most impactful occurrences that affect the delivery of successful corporate stay programs.

Focus on Sustainability Remains a Critical Topic

It’s safe to say that accommodation choices are no longer just about cost efficiency, convenience and comfort. Our choices now represent something bigger, something deeper, something generational.

Sustainability is that all-important factor that unites the industry. Initiatives such as the ASAP Green Team, CHPA’s sustainability task force, and Worldwide ERC’s Sustainability Committee underscore the sector’s dedication to eco-friendly practices and collaborative efforts.

Sustainable Corporate Housing

The below discusses some industry bright spots and a few of the adaptive strategies Synergy has taken to confront its most pressing challenges. 

Commitment, Education & Awareness: The Road Forward for Sustainable Business Travel

Corporate housing and the broader business travel ecosystem are experiencing a paradigm shift with sustainability at the forefront.

Alongside the Biden Administration’s recent announcement to accelerate America’s clean transportation future, the GBTA Foundation committed to releasing global Sustainable Procurement Criteria by the end of 2024.

As noted in the release, “the GBTA Criteria will help pave the way to standardize responsible practices in the business travel industry and provide corporate travel managers with a harmonized approach for requesting information on suppliers’ sustainability practices.”

Delphine Millot, Managing Director of the GBTA Foundation and Senior Vice President for Sustainability and Advocacy at GBTA, noted how GBTA’s inclusion in the high-profile event highlights the relevance of business travel amongst broader national sustainability themes.

Education and awareness are the logical next steps as the industry moves forward with pledges and commitments. 

Synergy is successfully bridging this gap with its innovative Green Leaf program. Currently being trialed with specific properties in the EMEA region, the Green Leaf program serves as a platform to capture, report and celebrate supplier ESG efforts. Questionnaire results are showcased on property profiles using a tiered 3 leaf visual indicating that property’s “green” status within Synergy’s sustainability criteria. This easy and intuitive feature empowers clients and travelers to make well-informed decisions aligning with their environmental values.

The Rise of Co-living Accommodations

Another trend reshaping corporate accommodation is the rise of co-living properties. Co-living blends the traditional hotel experience with elements of co-working and co-living spaces. We see this as a popular option for travelers of all ages as “holistic travel experiences” become increasingly popular due to the isolation of remote work and the continued momentum of “bleisure” travel. Co-living accommodation offers an affordable, option-rich, community-oriented stay.

Co-living options in Corporate Housing.

Synergy’s parent organization, The Ascott Limited, recent announced eight new signings for its co-living brand, lyf, highlighting this trend. As noted in the release, “growing demand for experience-led social living has broadened into a multifaceted hospitality experience ranging from co-living accommodation and city hotels to full-service resorts.” 

We’re excited to be a part of this evolution in accommodation and are honored to have priority access to this exciting new stay experience.

Increasing Rates, Stretched Budgets & Tight Apartment Supply

The demand for quality accommodations continues, but companies are feeling the pressure to focus on cost-saving strategies. This leaves travel and mobility managers, as well as serviced apartment providers, in a precarious position — the need to secure quality yet affordable accommodations.

Synergy has successfully navigated this headwind through our long-term supplier relationships and global buying power. One such effort is Synergy’s acquisition of Primestone Housing. which adds depth and quality to our existing U.S. multi-family property relationships — relationships developed over decades. This depth of partnership and resources fosters long-term lease agreements, essential to our ability to lock in rents and keep our accommodation costs low. Another cost saving measure that Synergy utilizes is securing alternative accommodation offerings better able to support clients with lower budgets.

AI: Friend or Foe?

Have you heard enough about AI yet? Well, while it was the all-important buzzword of 2023, we expect AI and other technological advancements to begin distilling into tangible benefits for the guest and client experience in 2024. From faster bookings to seamless, contactless check-ins to better spend reporting and analysis, we see AI through the lens of enhancement, not replacement.

As noted in this recent report from WERC & Deloitte, (Generative) AI can be bucketed into three use-case categories: Enhancing the experience, reducing administrative burdens and elevating strategic contributions. 

Synergy believes in embracing technology’s power to the benefit of clients and partners such as the industry’s first apartment inspection app, SynergySMART, a tool that ensures every Synergy guest always moves into a clean apartment. Or, the soon-to-be-released client portal, offering live availability and booking options, as well as on-demand reporting.

Two-way guest communications, feedback and ease of check-in are areas where Synergy is actively looking to implement AI solutions to improve the guest experience and return additional value back to its clients.

Short-Term Rental Regulations

Short-term rental laws, building caps and the reduction of risk by furnished apartment suppliers have also created a complex web of challenges. Navigating these legal intricacies while maintaining a diverse accommodation inventory requires education, advocacy and partnership.

Synergy Housing Corporate Apartment

At Synergy, we’ve always believed in the value of serviced accommodation as a product and service set. Backed by this belief, we are actively engaged with industry groups, associations and partners to provide industry knowledge and expertise to local government officials. Our goal is to ensure that the laws and regulations are shaped and implemented in a way that enhances, rather than diminishes, the overall value of our industry.

The Path Forward

In the complex and ever-shifting landscape of corporate accommodations, the interplay of trends, sustainability initiatives and challenges reveals a narrative of adaptation and innovation. And, despite the challenges present, the path forward is clear and one the corporate housing industry has seen multiple times before. In conjunction with our partners, industry associations and travel buyers, we are joined in our united quest for sustainable accommodations, while helping to address increasing costs and tightening supply. We all look toward the capabilities of new guest-centric technology to increase efficiency, safety and experience across each touchpoint of the guest journey. And as an industry, it is on us to unite, educate and advocate for the distinctive value serviced accommodations bring to support industry, jobs, commerce and opportunity.

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