Dwellworks Living Global Corporate Housing Solutions - London Luxury Interior

What to Expect Moving Forward | Serviced Accommodations and the Return to Business Travel

Are You Ready for the Way Forward?

Lately the travel business media has been positively bubbling over with a buoyant tone that has shifted away from last year’s focus on devastating loss and scrappy economic survival, towards an optimistic, forward-looking view on the return to the office and to business travel. Bellwether organizations like Apple, EY, Amazon and Google are all planning a phased-in (and flexible) return to the office for their thousands of employees in the US, most by the third quarter 2021. In some markets, notably Dallas, Houston, and Austin, we’re already seeing nearly 40% of employees back in the office. In an accelerating shift from ‘100% remote/work from anywhere’ to ‘hybrid, mostly in the office,’ more and more CEOs are encouraging their employees to get vaccinated and come back to safe, secure, hygienic and often upgraded workspaces. 

And it’s not hard to see why the renewed focus on collaboration and team effort. Jamie Dimon, CEO of JP Morgan Chase was quoted earlier this month saying, “in cases where JPMorgan lost business to rivals, it was because bankers from the other guys visited, and ours didn’t.”  The return to business travel is picking up just as the return to the office is. It’s time for businesspeople to get on the road, re-establish relationships, share new ideas and innovations, network in person, and accelerate the already white-hot growth predicted for the US economy this year. While the first surge in travel has been fueled by ‘vaxcations’ and restless, cooped-up consumers eager to hit the road and reconnect with family, friends and the National Parks, business travel and corporate relocation activity is also expected to pick up by the second half of the year, according to the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) and the Worldwide Employee Relocation Council (WERC). 2019 was a record travel year (nearly $1.3 trillion USD in spend), and while no one expects that number to be met in 2021 neither is the travel market expected to be as quiet as it was in 2020.  How much will business travel rebound? Industry experts are quoting a 21% increase in spend vs 2020.

What to Expect

When businesspeople take to the road again, what will their expectations be for accommodations and hospitality? As numerous articles and blogs have reported, health and safety remain the highest concerns and are the primary reasons for lingering reluctance to travel. Those concerns cover a broad range of needs including hygiene within the facilities, safety and security, extent of contact with staff, physical space and amenities, and access to trusted, vetted local services and resources. Professionals willing to travel on behalf of their employers will be looking for options and choice rather than inflexible travel policy mandates. In particular, travelers on extended stays may be more interested in the amenities and environment offered by corporate apartments and other corporate housing options versus hotels. A quick browse of any booking site will prove this point: the cost of hotel rooms is going up in all major business travel hubs but more significantly, service departments /aparthotel spaces are booked as quickly as they are posted on platforms.

Cost vs Value vs Risk

In a lean, building-back-the business year, cost sensitivity is high, but so too are customer and corporate buyer expectations. Leading that list are continued professional-grade sanitation protocols in shared areas and suites (another corporate apartment advantage: fewer instances of staff and strangers in the space overall.)  Guests in serviced accommodations will find updated furnishings, with special attention paid to work-from-apartment amenities, including contemporary office furniture and high-speed internet access. The average hotel room is about 300 square feet in size; a one-bedroom corporate apartment will be 3-4x the size, at 700-800 square feet. 

The ‘conveniences’ of hotels are now equated in many travelers’ minds with more risk:  more people, more crowded spaces, less intimacy and personalization. Corporate living spaces have responded with upgraded food delivery services, healthier pantry and refrigerator stocking option, and the reconfigured use of public space for thoughtfully managed activities such as yoga and meditation. And of course, many properties have added touchless check-in and room access and have upgraded the user experience including booking with ease, digital management of on-site customer requests, and expedited change management that recognizes the unpredictability and fast-moving travel environment of 2021. Gone too are the sterile ‘aparthotel’ look of pre-pandemic travel; toiletries, lighting, furnishings, fabrics, mattresses, carpets, floor coverings and surfaces are upgraded to address greater consumer expectations for quality and sustainability, as well as longer stays. In the post-COVID travel environment, business travel is expected to actually increase as the global economy booms again, and traveler expectations after a year or more of total immersion in a consumer-convenience economy are not likely to go back to ‘settling’ for an off the rack experiences that are not as homey.

Local Is Better

Experiences are in fact a distinct service expectation within global travel. What are guests expecting beyond an upgraded accommodation?  More knowledge and more insights. The statutory requirement of employers to provide duty OF care in terms of knowing where their employees are and how to provide assistance in the event of emergency response and evacuation, has evolved to a duty TO care: providing proactive information about current covid-19 conditions and local vaccination rates for example, but also local transportation options, and accessibility to local restaurants, bars, grocery stores and retail, not to mention the best places for a morning run, an evening walk, childcare, or safe and secure local entertainment options.

At Dwellworks Living, we see a natural evolution from ‘temporary living’ or ‘interim housing’ to ‘continuous accommodation’ and ‘destination services.’  Business professionals have spent an intense 15 months online and locked on Zoom and video calls. They know how to find all the basic information they need electronically; what’s often missing in hospitality and furnished accommodations management is that final mile concierge quality expertise. We’re able to offer our clients and their travelers more housing choices AND greater and more interesting experiences, because we are on the ground experts in thousands of locations where our customers travel. Our motto is ‘at home around the world’ because we truly are: our team can deliver a local experience in the cities our travelers are visiting because they’re locals. We can manage an experience that is at once an elevation above the standard hotel stay and a personalized welcome to the traveler’s temporary home.

Ready for the Surge?

As the travel pipeline builds, so does client concern about availability. Have prices increased?  Will there be enough hospitality solutions to meet the coming demand? We are not currently seeing any sustained shortages in the hundreds of markets where our clients have business travel and accommodations needs and are supported by our 3000+ partners. It’s true that some suppliers and operators were overextended and financially impacted by the steep reduction in business travel last year, but our partners remained resilient. They managed their inventory carefully and in partnership with Dwellworks Living, implemented ever more precise tools and reporting for monitoring availability, gauging occupancy rates, and tracking arrivals, departures and extensions.  Throughout the pandemic and in the more recent, optimistic months, our suppliers continue to provide multiple options (4-5 on average) for every housing request. We work hard to manage a platform that effectively connects client demand and operator supply. Our supply chain leaders have 20+ years’ experience in global accommodations management and our suppliers trust us to bring them opportunity, feedback and support, in return for their competitive pricing, well-matched solutions, and availability. That’s all good news; it’s also true that as the summer market gets busy with leisure travelers, all seeking larger space and healthier choices, ‘last minute’ corporate requests will be hard to fill. So, if your business has travelers to put on the road in June, July, August in the US, don’t delay…ask for housing options now and secure your accommodations.

Will operators continue to be flexible in their terms and pricing? Of course, their focus like that of all of us in the travel ecosystem is on rebuilding business and in the present environment suppliers are eager to accommodate. But flexibility is relative. The business consumer expectation for more options, more services, faster response, and greater local content will not lessen over time, but access to actual accommodations is tied to supply, which is plentiful in the aggregate, but not always in high volume markets and not at any price. We are already speaking with clients about plans for 2022 intern programs for example and business travel and relocation needs for the rest of the year. As strategic advisors, we’re working with clients to understand their business priorities:  Where are new factories coming online? How are global logistics bottlenecks impacting where they need to deploy talent? When borders open and travel restrictions lift, where will they need to send people most urgently? The more we can plan together, the more options and flexibility we can provide.

Are we ready for the way forward? Yes, Dwellworks Living is ready. Our suppliers are financially healthy and eager to partner with us in delivering the unique, local solutions that allow guests to be at home around the world. Let’s get the travel conversation started.


Dwellworks Living: Global Solutions for Corporate Accommodations 

Dwellworks Living is committed to providing our clients and their employees with the best possible corporate housing and serviced accommodations experience. With a global network of property partners, a tri-regional team of customer experience and supply chain professionals, and a wide range of services for global mobility and travel customers, Dwellworks Living can provide the perfect corporate housing solution for any need or budget.

Dwellworks Living is the global corporate housing solution of Dwellworks, an award-winning, business-to-business provider of global mobility and business travel services. As a global leader in corporate housing and serviced accommodations solutions, Dwellworks Living is uniquely positioned to meet the temporary living needs of businesses and their employees who are relocating or traveling on short-, medium- or extended-stays. With 60,000 high-quality professionally managed properties in over 125 countries worldwide, Dwellworks Living is the preferred housing solutions partner of many Fortune 1000 and leading relocation management companies.

Dwellworks Living's corporate housing and serviced accommodations solutions are designed to help businesses attract and retain top talent, support employee productivity, and ensure a smooth and successful relocation or business travel experience. In addition to our core global accommodations management services, Dwellworks Living, through our worldwide network of local experts, is uniquely capable of offering our clients expanded and related services, such as area orientations, group move assistance, destination services and intercultural training.

Whether you have corporate housing needs for an individual employee or a large team, Dwellworks Living can provide the serviced accommodations solutions you need anywhere in the world to ensure a safe and successful stay. Please contact us to learn more or visit our Properties page to begin your search for global corporate housing accommodations.

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