What to Know When Selecting Your Corporate Accommodation Partner

What to Know When Selecting Your Corporate Accommodation Partner

In the context of business travel, “Corporate Housing” generally means short-term or extended stay rentals usually geared towards those traveling for business. The length of stay can vary on a number of different factors but is usually 30 days to a year.

The options available can vary widely, and the providers offering service under this banner come in many different shapes and sizes. In most cases, the traveler will be in a furnished apartment, but they can also stay in a home or extended-stay hotel. So, how do you pinpoint what your needs are and how can you be sure you have aligned with the right partner for the job?

Simplifying the Layers

First, we need to understand the structure. The market for corporate housing has a number of layers which we explain here:

The Operator

Operators own or lease properties directly. They’re responsible for managing their own fully furnished properties. They often refer to their stock of properties as Inventory.

Leasing Office

The Agent

While an Operator may own and manage a portfolio of apartments and take bookings for these properties directly, an Agent will work with a number of Operators in their region. The apartments will still be owned and managed by the Operators, but sourced and booked by the Agent.

The Global Provider

The limitations of a Regional Agent may simply boil down to size and the number of Operators they have access to. If a need arises for a property outside of their network or area of coverage, the Agent will have to invest time to research and perform due diligence in order to find a new operator that fulfills the ask. A Global Corporate Housing Partner could be the solution.

Global Corporate Housing Providers have access to vetted, trusted suppliers across the globe. They can work directly with Operators in much the same way as a Regional Agent can but with a much larger network, and access to technology platforms to make a seamless, end-to-end process.

Comparing Apples to Apples

If you’re assessing the cost of booking one apartment directly with an Operator or booking the same apartment through an Agent, you might see a difference. With layering in the market comes layering in pricing. But if you’re looking for value, rather than solely unit price, you also need to know what value those layers bring, and if it’s right for you.

Working with an Operator

Buying direct from an operator may have the fewest layers so you’re likely to see a competitive price. But, your choice is limited to that operator’s properties, they are less likely to sign short-term leases and they’re often smaller businesses and sometimes individual landlords.

If your population only needs to be in one area, and the Operator’s availability is likely to meet your needs, perhaps a direct relationship might be beneficial, especially if the price and service are in line with your expectations, and you’re comfortable working directly with a smaller operation.

Working with an Agent

Two people working with an agent

An Agent may be able to provide more choice in location, perhaps more availability. They may be able to offer more competitive pricing in the area through comparison. They may also provide you with support in problem-solving, should something go wrong.

If there are issues they can’t resolve within their network, they may be able to expand their offering to provide more options, but this can take time, and the costs may vary. This also needs to be a factor in your comparison.

Working with a Global Service Provider

A Global Service Provider will be able to leverage your business alongside that of its other clients, meaning an Operator or a local agent might offer a more competitive price to the Global Service Provider than direct to you.

Expansion is no problem for a Global Provider either—their networks are vast, which brings with it local knowledge and global reach. Often superior technology platforms will allow a much faster process for finding what you need and solving issues as they come up. It also brings security, vetting local suppliers so you know how your data is handled and where your money is going.

Contingencies are important too.

What if your operator doesn’t have availability when you need it? In some cases, “turnkey” arrangements are made. Here, you’ll take out a longer lease than one of your employees needs, and when they move out, the property is cleaned and serviced, ready for the next team member to move in.

Alternatively, on a larger scale, you can “block book” multiple apartments on a longer-term basis which are then secured exclusively for your population to use. There are of course costs and risks involved with these contingencies that you need to factor into your decision.

Options for Varied Populations

Consider the unique makeup of your business travelers and relocating employees when you consider how to manage your corporate housing program. Perhaps you have a population of business travelers on short-term assignments in locations where housing or safety can be a challenge or a team rotational program that cycles through two or three locations where you need to have availability readily on hand.

For your business travelers, you need consistency. Where they stay needs to be convenient for your office, safe and reliable. You need a provider who can guarantee that every time.

Your short-term assignments may be similar, but you need someone with a particular strength in that area.

Your rotation programs might have the additional need of a larger availability. This needs to be a factor in choosing a partner to service this group. Can they manage block bookings? Do they have experience with intern programs or technology you can leverage?

Final Thoughts

When you’ve examined the supplier types that may best fit your needs, you might discover that your ideal solution is a selection of different providers, maybe a “Multi-Model” approach, or a single one that can meet all of your needs. Don’t forget to think about your resources though. Do you have the capacity to manage multiple suppliers for each of your programs, or do you need one solution? Do you have multiple stakeholders who need to be involved with these relationships, or does all of it need to come through you?

Finally, make sure you’re asking your potential suppliers for their solutions to your specific needs. Find out what makes them special. Use their experience, listen to their ideas and stay open to innovation.

This article has been written in collaboration with relocation management specialists. Synergy, both an Operator and Global Agent, believes each of our clients deserves individual solutions to their unique needs. We pride ourselves on delivering best-in-class, end-to-end accommodation solutions from strategic, on-the-ground partnerships to superior customer service and cutting-edge technology.

Ready to learn more about how Synergy can enhance your accommodation program? Tell us what you need and our local teams will be happy to support you.  

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