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Gloucestershire Business News

The future of business travel and accommodation after coronavirus - Oliver Williams of Stay Lets

By Oliver Williams, property director at Stay Lets 

After an unprecedented year of economic downturn, hardship, and disruption, it is time to look towards the new year and what it may be like for all businesses, particularly in the world of hospitality and accommodation.

It is hard to find an industry hit more severely or disproportionately.

While there can be no perfect recipe to support these businesses, we must consider how the corporate world will react in terms of travel demand and how to encourage and protect clients who find travel for business an essential function.

While the world of Zoom and Microsoft Teams has thrived this year, it can only take us so far.

The psychological and ethical benefits of face-to-face discussion are vital to most businesses and we expect that not only will business travellers return to their pre-pandemic travel patterns, there is good reason to believe that once lockdown restrictions ease and the vaccine begins to take hold, the amount of travel in this area will increase significantly as businesses look to address pent-up demand.

With this positive attitude, the question for accommodation operators becomes how they identify and capitalise on the opportunities presented to them.

Travel has and will continue to change during the pandemic. From SMEs, through global corporate travel agencies and on up to multi-nationals, travel policies and purchasing decisions will shift dramatically.

Organisations will begin to shift policies away from cost-effectiveness, convenience and compliance, through to a greater duty-of-care approach to workers' welfare on business with comfort, psychological well-being and protection of personal health put front and centre.

Business traveller comfort directly relates to employee productivity, even more as the pandemic has brought consideration of personal health to the forefront in every aspect of life.

In some cases, where a firm has to commit to the travel of its employees or executives while knowing the risks, they will have to consider such things as 14-day quarantine for international travel.

The idea of facilitating business stays in hospitality accommodation in the hotel market will not be palatable.

Not only because, cost-wise, most hotels are not equipped to offer the value companies will be seeking, but because an extended stay in a hotel as a solo traveller, no matter how luxurious, is simply not sustainable from a comfort and mental health perspective.

This is where the serviced accommodation world offers greater comfort, connectivity and safety for its guests, while delivering on hotel-standard product quality and amenities for as good, if not better, value than before Covid-19.

Hotels and similar businesses struggling through the economic downturn and running at relatively low profit margins will continue to downgrade their offerings, whether that be with dining, spa and health facilities, or events and amenities through a combination of restrictive Covid-19 guidance, due diligence and safety priorities, but also cost of operations being unsustainable.

Some operators will reduce rates to compete with budget hotel offerings, but even then the guest's experience will be diminished.

In contrast, serviced accommodation businesses can retain any and all of their product and offering and in some case enhance it.

Self-contained, serviced accommodation will clearly see an uptick in the months and years to come.

Many have already seen this happen despite lockdowns and tiering systems in the UK and while some providers are struggling, agile businesses are finding ways to thrive and take opportunities to grow while not compromising on safety, quality and comfort.

Organisations such as the Association of Serviced Apartment Providers and accreditation from their compliance and quality partners ISAAP are vital to decision makers within the corporate travel world.

The world of serviced short-let accommodation is varied and does not provide the consistency of generations of hotel quality ratings such as the AA.

Finding an operator you can trust with a stamp of approval from an official body and booking direct is simply the most reliable, secure and cost-effective method of sourcing a business's accommodation requirements with peace-of-mind intact.

Getting back to business travel safely and swiftly - and the impact on small supply chain businesses locally and nationally - is vital to the bounce back of the national economy.

For more information, contact Stay Lets on 03301 075622 or email bookings@staylets.co.uk.

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