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Global Mobility Professionals Reveal Corporate Housing Trends

The challenges and trends in Corporate Housing

2020 hit us with the most unprecedented times the business world has ever seen. Amidst the pandemic, many businesses attempted to develop by investing in a mobile workforce. The current COVID-19 crisis reminds us that sending employees on international assignments can be a huge responsibility and a difficult task to manage. Looking on the bright side, the pandemic is an opportunity to reflect on how Corporate Housing trends contributes to the resilience and success of the global mobility industry…

The demand for corporate housing is on the rise

A few years ago, we saw employees on out-of-town business driving high demand for corporate housing. Since then, the popularity of corporate housing has only risen. Corporate housing is now considered a viable option for many, including larger families, which are even relocating voluntarily. The industry is seeing more demand for sizable furnished accommodations.

With the increase of larger families relocating, the need for larger properties will continue to be on demand. Many are not just looking for a property that offers business-friendly amenities, they also want a property that can accommodate their pets. Sadly, the industry is yet to adapt to such comforts. Laura Beron of AIRES mentioned that a solution is very much needed for larger families including their pets and not just service animals, in order to provide the comfort that these families need to make their home away from home as comfortable as possible. Gavin Pereira from the audience added “Pets are definitely being asked more often these days, this fits in with the mental health needs for a companionship now more than ever.”

In addition to the increased likelihood of larger families relocating, the need for larger properties will continue to be on demand for most family sizes. Many are not just looking for a property that offers business-friendly amenities, and space for virtual learning, they also want a property that can accommodate their pets. Unfortunately, the corporate housing industry has yet to adapt and widely offer accommodation for pets.  Laura Beron of AIRES mentioned that a solution is very much needed for larger families including their pets, and not just service animals, in order to provide the comfort that these families need to make their home away from home as comfortable as possible. Gavin Pereira from the audience added “Pets are definitely being asked more often these days, this fits in with the mental health needs for a companionship now more than ever.”

To bring a solution to this corporate housing matter, our panellist spoke about unlocking various opportunities in corporate housing with a universal live booking tool. This created a topic of conversation as James Spiers from the audience mentioned how “instant booking tools should also be available, whether the employee has access or there is a co-ordinate taking the booking to better manage client expectation.”

This gave our panellists an issue to ponder, as a universal live booking tool has its challenges. As consumers, we are trained to expect instant results and this is what we expect within Corporate housing – real-time visibility of accommodations, with the choice to book immediately.  This booking experience is commonplace for consumers looking for options from apartments to villas but has been conspicuously absent with the same variety of options in corporate housing.

Validating the feasibility of the universal booking tool

Veronika Kim from Graebel Companies challenged corporate housing industry gurus to come together and validate the feasibility of the universal live booking tool. Ideally, this would centralise all suppliers’ inventory with real-time availability, amenities and pricing like that of the hotel booking system.

With technology developing so fast and the increase of the lump sum generation, people want to be able to secure that temporary accommodation within minutes, from the comfort of their sofa.

The convenience of instant bookings is perfect for those who receive a lump sum because they can secure their desired property within minutes. However, for those who need to respond to a chain of command, their desired property may only be available for a short window of time and can easily be snapped up before management approves of their choice. To provide instant booking, cost controls and other policy parameters would need to be in place in order to shorten the traditional approval cycle.  Instant booking seems to have a future in Corporate Housing if consumer trends are any indicator, though its success depends on the controls that the booking platform has in place.  

A specific example of one control is a setting whereby the booking platform will only display properties within a set budget, thus giving the client peace of mind that the employee is within budget and policy.  This technology is available today, it merely needs to be adapted to policies and practices of the relocation and corporate travel industry.

Mike Quigley posed a question to the panel asking, “will too much automation take away from the comfort experience?

Everyone thinks automation will take over all and make everything easier, but Jack Jampel commented, that it is not the case. The solution is to look at what you are trying to achieve and give the client exactly that without overpromising in your options.

It’s about having the right balance with people behind the technology supporting the clients with their questions and concerns such as a live chat with a consultant assigned to the case. You end up with the technology backed-up with the human vetting without the automation taking away from the client experience. Check the Most Innovative Technology Providers Changing Global Mobility.

How can Corporate Housing suppliers be better providers?

Whilst the expertise of the industry is important, the consultative approach is much needed and goes hand in hand with the client advocacy. Understanding client priority should be the basis of the whole engagement. We should continue to provide employees support throughout the entire process and seek to design client solutions for long-term and short-term issues.

Location location location…

There’s a lot that goes into temporary housing and base cost. What clients said they want is complete transparency from their agents. They want to know how much they are paying and what they are receiving so they are prepared for the cost of the accommodation no matter the location.  

The panel concluded by expressing that vetted suppliers fulfils their duty of care to their clients, ensuring that all properties are compliant. The selection process ensures properties are in secure locations with compliant security procedures.

As the world continues to battle with Covid-19, clients will require a sizeable commitment to cleaning protocols. It is likely that cleanliness protocols will become on par with data privacy, whether in hotels, service accommodations or more bespoke unique homes.

You can catch up on day one of the summits, which is now available to view on demand here.

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