UK: 68 per cent of the flexible rental sector is seeing an increased demand for extended stays, and 59 per cent are seeing a demand for large spaces, according to a report from global accommodation platform AltoVita, which surveyed key players in the flexible rental sector around the world.
The survey, conducted in partnership with ShortTermRentalz and Serviced Apartment News, asked respondents about the impacts of Covid-19 on the industry, alongside increased guest expectations and changes to inventory.
Changing guest expectations
With millions of employees working from home during the pandemic, there has been a significant rise in ‘working from anywhere’ [WFA].
To create WFA spaces, the survey revealed that respondents have prioritised high-speed internet [43 per cent], providing desk and office spaces [29 per cent] and laptop-friendly surfaces [nine per cent]. When it comes to the best lease structure to support working from anywhere, 74 per cent favour monthly leases.
With the global pandemic causing illness and frequent isolation, flexible cancellation policies have been a must. In light of this, over two thirds [68 per cent] began offering flexible cancellations, in addition to check-in date flexibility [12 per cent], while a small minority also reduced their minimum stay requirements [three per cent].
The survey also revealed that the pandemic has driven enhanced cleaning in compliance with World Health Organisation [WHO] standards and to protect guests. Increased cleaning [44 per cent] and contactless check-in [37 per cent] were seen most frequently, alongside contactless technology [ten per cent].
Driving the adoption of technology
The survey also found that 90 per cent have invested in new technology over the past year, including customer relationship management tools [28 per cent], property management systems [28 per cent], API connections to other services [28 per cent] and contactless entry [25 per cent]. Although many have been furloughed during the pandemic, approximately 69 per cent of the workforce are likely to be hired back after Covid.
Karolina Saviova, COO and co-founder at AltoVita, said: “Prioritising safety, security and duty of care is vital, and we want business travellers to travel with confidence and feel supported through their journey as business travel moves toward pre-pandemic levels. Almost all [96 per cent] of our partner network and clients feel a pent-up need for travel, and industry players have really stepped up to focus on guest expectations and comfort.
“There is no doubt that technology will play a pivotal role in guest experience delivery and quality monitoring in the future,” she added.
Paul Stevens, editor, ShortTermRentalz, commented: “It is clear from our discussions with other industry leaders in the short-term rental space that guest expectations have become more defined than ever as a result of the pandemic.
“Due to the accelerating convergence between hospitality and real estate asset classes, particularly with more hotel companies venturing into the rental segment, travellers are more open to booking alternative or ‘niche’ private accommodations, but, on the other hand, they are increasingly unwilling to compromise on the exacting standards they’ve come to expect from hotels that make their stay so seamless, including smooth booking processes, cleaning, and the amenities on offer,” he added.
To read the full AltoVita report, download it here.