Sustainability: A new era for the serviced apartment market
The hospitality sector was hit hugely when the first major lockdown was announced in March 2020, with most properties having to close their doors with no idea of when they would re-open. Two years on and we are still grappling with the pandemic with many businesses longing for the day when things go back to ‘normal’.
There was one part of the hospitality industry however, that seemed to fair slightly better. Serviced apartments. With employees and essential workers steering clear of hotels, many flocked to serviced apartments for their self contained, much more private and safer offerings with less shared spaces.
Fast forward to 2022, with growing vaccination rates and implementations of new digital technologies what we now see is a year of collaboration, action and innovation all aimed at recovery from the previous two years. But there also seems to be a new contender on the books: growing sustainably.
The Identification of a sustainable market opportunity
There have been a range of initiatives launched that have brought the focus of Environmental, Social and corporate Governance (ESG) into play, pushing the mindset of business owners to realise that positive changes in society and being a better investor will not only help secure future investment but attract more customers. In order to become a more sustainable investor in serviced apartments there are three main pillars that need to be adhered to: Investment, innovation and inclusion.
- Investment- Serviced apartments are now thriving because they adapted and catered to the changing consumer behaviour patterns throughout the pandemic.
- Innovation- The use of digital tools within serviced apartments is one of the main reasons for its effective recovery within tourism. Self- service opportunities and digital platforms offering contactless check in/out, room access and digital payments make for effortless stays and thus an increased customer experience.
- Inclusion- There is now a real emphasis on the importance of promoting responsible, sustainable and accessible tourism for all. It’s here that businesses need to identify behaviour changes within their organisation so that their services are accessible for all.
Policies reflecting this market change
There have also been a number of policies launched within the industry that have also shaped this new focus on sustainability in serviced apartments:
- The Global Tourism Plastics Initiative, which is aimed at reducing waste and pollution across the tourism sector and a focus on making sure used plastics are not thrown away but put back into the economy.
- The Sustainable Hospitality Alliance is a global organization that brings together hospitality companies to address challenges affecting the planet. It also creates free resources and programs to help achieve sustainable goals.
- Commitment to the promotion and preservation of rural villages’ cultural heritage and sustainable development. The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) initiative is aimed at providing opportunities and safeguarding communities as well as making innovative approaches to rural areas’ tourism based on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The SDGs were adopted by the United Nations as a universal call to action to address the global challenges and end poverty, inequality, protect the planet, and to ensure all human beings can enjoy peace and justice by 2030.
- Accessible and inclusive tourism recognises the role of incorporating accessibility into tourism supporting the right of people with disabilities to travel.
Through all of the above, what we are now seeing are serviced apartments and the wider hospitality industry driving sustainability through low emission solutions and creating innovative places for people to stay.
Managing major business change to become more sustainable in serviced apartments
The fact that operations account for over 85% of the carbon footprint of a building over the course of its life, its no wonder that there’s been a real focus from businesses in aiming to reduce this. We know that a lot of ESG property investing is also to do with making it much more attractive to its customers, but for the first time we are now seeing businesses really step up in the sustainability game and provide major change.
Plus, we are now seeing both consumers and businesses having a choice. The consumer has the choice to choose a sustainable place to stay and the business has a choice to make environmentally efficient business practices. With businesses being able to affect the consumers choice through investing in ESG, it’s no wonder many are making a real point to do so. What we are now seeing is a shift to a new sustainability-led decision making processes instead of predominantly price-led. The importance of the sustainability-led decision making process made by consumers can no longer be ignored. Soon enough, sustainable actions by businesses will be mandatory and just expected and therefore if you do not do anything your business will suffer as a result.
When trying to increase sustainability in serviced apartments, resources and staff need to be taken into account. With a much more structured team and distinct areas that a specific team member focuses on, businesses can begin to introduce a more diverse team who can bring new skills and experience to the business.
By reevaluating internal structures, technologies and sourcing new ways to become more sustainable businesses can become much more streamlined, efficient and leaner benefiting not only in terms of sustainability, but in terms of managing the business.
Essentially becoming more sustainable also makes for a smarter business.