The Changing Dynamics of Serviced Apartment Segment in Asia Pacific

First things first! Let’s have a quick look at some statistics from the 5th Global Serviced Apartment Industry Report 2015 – 2016 which shows 14% growth in serviced apartment supply chain globally, exponential corporate, relocation and online demand and increasing investor interest in the sector.
·         748,437 serviced apartments worldwide operating in 9,875 locations
·         Inventory up 14% year-on-year and 80.1% since 2008
·         Apartment usage for assignment/project work growing in 72.73% of companies
·         Distribution widening – 75% of operators now receive bookings from OTAs

Asia Pacific contributes to these global figures in its own way. With strong economic growth in China, India and South-east Asia, improved infrastructure, high use of smartphones and increasing internet penetration, business and leisure travel has seen a huge growth. As business opportunities have increased rapidly in last couple of years, demand for serviced apartments have also doubled. One may ask why? While hotels provide comfortable rooms and good service, the benefits of serviced apartments include the comfort of more space, privacy, option to cook, flexibility, cost of stay as well as the overall environment which is more like a ‘home away from home’.
Outlook for 2016

The business travel market in Asia is growing at a fast pace. According to Global Business Travel Association (GBTA), Asia Pacific gets the largest share of the business travel spend followed by North America and Western Europe. This business travel boom, combined with Asia being a hub of skilled human resource and rapid economic growth is driving demand for serviced apartments across the region. With over 20% on-site assignments now lasting less than 12 months, serviced apartments have emerged as the preferred model due to value and flexibility. Global economic recession notwithstanding, demand for serviced apartments in South East Asia grew by over 25% over the past decade. Global players have taken note of that, and today Oakwood, BridgeSteet and Ascott are growing at the fastest pace in this region.
With economic slowdown in South Asia, the austerity measures will be advantageous for the sector as middle management business professionals, the primary target market, make arrangements for shorter assignments.
A changing landscape

A demographic change is happening across South East Asia – silently, but rapidly. The rising quality of living and increase in volume of foreign talent and tourists has created demand for quality serviced residences. Expats are coming back to their own countries and relocating from within Asia-Pacific. In China, for example, there is a strong demand for serviced apartments amongst the double income families with higher spending power.
With channels like Airbnb and HomeAway catering to demand specifically for serviced apartments, it shows the potential this segment holds. Various operators including BridgeStreet Global Hospitality Group are tapping Airbnb to widen their distribution network. Further, Ascott will have 2,000 units under its new Tujia Somerset brand of serviced residences in China by the end of this year. is China’s largest online apartment sharing platform equivalent to Airbnb and Tujia Somerset is a jointventure between Ascott and Tujia.
Industry experts believe that the serviced apartment industry in Asia is all set to grow in the coming months as the region continues to drive global growth with increased overseas assignments and projects.
Surge of tech-savvy travellers

Over half of the 3.4 billion internet users worldwide are from Asia-Pacific. This is due to the widespread adoption of smartphones in the region. An eMarketerreport shows that in 2015, total smartphone users in APAC was over 1 billion and by the end of 2019 it is expected to be nearly 1.5 billion or 51.5% of total mobile phone users. These new age travellers prefer to choose cost effective accommodation when they are travelling for business or study purposes and many of them prefer serviced apartments for long stays.
Shift from Offline to Online Bookings

Due to the positive economic growth and business prospects, countries like China, Hong Kong, India, Japan, Singapore, Philippines, Taiwan, Vietnam and Thailand have become transit hubs leading to a surge in demand for serviced apartments. Research studies show that almost 80% of corporate bookings are made online and around 27% of these bookings are made directly on the through the in-built booking option.
Interestingly, a TIN report on Global Serviced Apartment shows that 68% of serviced apartment operators are not represented on online platforms and most of these are unaware of internet booking engine. With more focus on this segment, it is important for serviced apartment providers to be visible on online channels and provide direct booking options for improved business and revenues.

This sector is already witnessing growth and expansion and attracting more operators, thereby increasing competition. Existing providers need to adapt to customer requirements and cater to market needs to stay ahead in the game. They need to install correct technology solutions in order to expand their visibility and market share.
Ram Mohan Dubey is the Regional Sales Manager for APAC at eRevMax. Please contact us at for any enquiries.

Rio 2016: DOs and DON’Ts list for Brazil Hoteliers – Part II

In Rio 2016: DOs and DON’Ts list for Brazil Hoteliers – Part I; I identified what hotelier should do during the largest sports event in the world. Here I present to you the second part of this series – read on!

Don’t 1# Don’t be too greedy
It is important for the visitors not to feel “ripped off’ as the peak period customers understand prices better and there instils a sense of loyalty. Even dynamic pricing can be transparent if the multiple factors behind the rate are clearly communicated. The key is to have a clear rate strategy in place based on demand as well as product to avoid extreme peaks and valleys. Past experience suggests that the peak in demand is usually for a short duration. Therefore it is essential to cover the shoulder nights along with the capability to drive higher rates during peak nights for RevPAR optimization.

Brazil is the most popular travel destination in Latin America, and also by far the most expensive. Amidst all these uncertainties, hotels need to have the optimal business mix of comfortably positioned locked base and inventory allocation to be able to adjust to market dynamics at the eleventh hour. Getting the right price and remaining competitive will sail you through this challenge.
Don’t 2# Don’t underestimate ‘social power’
With a highly active internet population, Brazil is region’s most social media-savvy country, with 92% of internet users connected to social media. Brazilians spend an average of 3.8 hours on social media every day, an hour more than Americans. The country has over 70 million Facebook users, the third biggest user base, and the second biggest user base for Twitter and the largest market outside the USA for YouTube.

For the hotel industry, ignoring social media is suicidal. According to a study by Brazilian media consultant eCRM123, 94% of the country’s social network users favoured the idea of receiving customer assistance through social media sites, and 77% of them have positive attitude towards shopping and buying via a social networking storefront. With search engines like Google favouring social sites, having an engaging social media presence only increases the hotel’s chance for higher page rankings in search results.
Use social media page to create brand awareness. Interact with potential and existing guests, and improve customer engagement. Used effectively, social media can be a great tool to develop brand ambassadors amongst customers.
Don’t 3# Don’t ignore ‘online reputation’
With 350 million unique monthly visitors and over 200 million reviews and opinions, TripAdvisor has become the world’s largest travel website. According to a TrustYou heat mapping study on TripAdvisor, given equal prices travellers are 3.9 times more likely to choose a hotel with a higher review score. Hotels that have a higher guest score typically will have better placement on the travel sites. A better placement on the travel site means more bookings.  More bookings mean a higher room rate, and eventually higher revenue for the hotel. 
However since guests share feedback on various review and travel sites – all of this valuable information lay scattered and unstructured. It is here that online reputation management tools play a big role in consolidating the guest reviews and provide them to hotels in structured reports. Guest review analysis works hand in hand with rate, occupancy, RevPAR and channel performance to provide hotels with the overall picture. This becomes very useful for the marketing team to identify the potential bright spots for promotional activities.

Mega events like the Summer Olympics or World Cup are opportunities for a country to enhance their image for long term gain. The goodwill can only be earned by excellent hospitality, friendly behaviour and safety. For the hotels, the biggest blunder could be to get too greedy and try to earn ‘quick bucks’ at the expense of long-term customer value and loyalty. Do not abandon the guests, contracts and operators who have supported you during difficult times – you will again need them for long-term success. And more importantly, don’t compromise your tomorrow for a quick return today. Building the ‘Brand Brazil’ will help you with better standing for the years to come.

Image: CC

 Alex Moura is the Regional Sales Director Latin America and Portugal at eRevMax. He can be reached at

Rio 2016: DOs and DON’Ts list for Brazil Hoteliers – Part I

In exactly 50 days from now, the Olympic Games will begin at the summer playground of Rio de Janeiro. However, unlike the soccer world cup two years ago, the mood seems to be far from upbeat. With the country in political turmoil, economy into severe recession along with global public health emergency due to Zika virus, the time does not look right for Brazil to host the Olympics party.

However, amidst the dark shadow casting over the country, there is something positive for the hospitality industry. The weakened currency has made travelling to Brazil a bargain for international visitors. According to data released by the Ministry of Tourism, spending by international visitors grew by 11.47 % in the first quarter of 2016 compared to the same period last year. Weakened Real has also forced Brazilians to focus more on domestic travel, boosting the country’s hospitality sector.
2016 organizers are expecting expect half a million visitors for the 2016 Olympic Games, which take place from August 5-21. The recent measure by the government to allow visa free entry for tourist from Australia, Canada, USA and Japan between June to September will also help the hoteliers to balance the shoulder periods before and after the games. 
Brazilian Hotel Association reports that occupancy level at five star hotels during the games in almost 98%. This is 200% increase from 2014, however, hotel rates, which saw 5 fold jump during the soccer world cup seems to have increased by 122%. However, it’s also a matter of simple economics of supply and demand: more fans attended the World Cup, and more hotel rooms are available now. The past two decades of economic boom, along with two mega sporting events, namely FIFA World Cup 2014 and Summer Olympics 2016 has resulted in a substantial investment in the lodging industry with more than 15,000 rooms being added to the inventories.
With hotel industry is moving towards dynamic pricing as hoteliers can now access online rate performance and see how they can change their prices more frequently to increase revenue, all thanks to the competitive benchmarking tools available in the marketplace, the question that requires more discussion though is how should a hotel respond to unusual events in town?
The dynamics of hotel pricing has always been a classic case of cat & mouse game – where the hoteliers have to balance the see-saw every minute on several factors. How do you balance the see-saw of high season vs. low season, an exorbitant rate vs. customer loyalty, price optimization vs. revenue optimization, inventories vs. competitive pricing?  Hotel pricing has always been a never ending roulette for an hotelier.
Experience from past events suggest there needs to be more strategy behind these rates to better align them with customer expectations as this will help build better relationships with potential customers. A classic case study how prices can fall dramatically after a major sports event is South Africa, which hosted the last FIFA World Cup in 2010. The country saw its average room rate tumble by 17%, with host cities Cape Town down by 20% and Johannesburg by 13% according to Hotel Price Index by Even in the case of Brazil, while the Cup generated lot of attention, the tourist inflow remained flat.
Unlike Barcelona  or Salt Lake City, where the legacy effect of a mega event like Olympics have been positive, lack of competitive pricing or infrastructure has not helped Brazil tourism sector to perform up to the expectation. Will the devaluation of currency and improved infrastructure would finally change the scenario? Only time will tell, but here are a few Dos and Dont’s for the Brazilian hotel industry.
DO 1# Use rate date to optimize your pricing strategy:
Brazil Hotel industry has been struggling in recent years with occupancy falling to 56.7% in 2015 according to STR. Hotels in Rio experienced a 26.7% drop in RevPAR in 2015. Making it more challenging is Airbnb, an official partner of the Olympics, which saw a sudden surge of listings in Rio. With 86% Brazilians intent to travel domestic, recession has helped Airbnb to grow manifold. The home-sharing company has over 25000 listings in Rio alone, making it Airbnb’s largest market after Paris, New York and London.

With the online travel industry still growing at over 13%, hotel industry needs to compete and grow their market by reaching out to the online buyers. Historical and current rate data will play a crucial role to identify the most profitable channels and customize strategies according to market dynamics.
By all means, utilize the high demand to raise profitability, but give attention to the shoulder seasons either side of this mega event as they are expected to be leaner periods than in normal times. Analyze current occupancy, bookings and revenue against data to make the rate level decisions to secure additional reservations. Use Rate Shopping reports to see rates, room categories, and restrictions that provide the details.  Review price analytics to develop a strategy for a lean season and identify the correct channels to promote that plan.
DO 2# Create a balanced distribution mix with regional and global sales channels:
With business travel down due to economic turmoil, leisure travel is going to be the saviour for the hotel industry. About 6.3 million foreigners visited Brazil in 2015, more than half of them from South America, with Argentina alone accounting for one third of all visitors.
With 3 out of 3 online bookings being made in OTA, it’s important for hotels to revisit their distribution mix. While wooing the international traveller is perfectly alright, don’t ignore the all-powerful domestic travellers. It’s vital to add a balanced mix of global and regional channels in your distribution portfolio. Adapt a more flexible sales strategy. Each customer is different, and cannot be handled with a uniform approach. That does not mean throwing strategies & positioning out of the window, but customize them according to market dynamics. Plan for each target segment. Hotels who have applied a more dynamic and flexible approach are the ones that are the most successful.
DO 3# Power your hotel systems with right technology:
Hoteliers in Brazil need to understand the need for multiple technologies to handle third party sales due to the limitations available in existing systems. By utilizing technologies for rate calculations, rate shopping, updating rates and inventory, they can react to market dynamics in real-time. Channel managers are required to efficiently and accurately manage the OTAs. This will allow the revenue management team to focus more on strategy.
DO 4# Integrate mobile channel in your marketing strategy:
Brazil leads the mobile revolution in South America, both by its sheer size and penetration. With bookings from mobile accounting from 23% of total online bookings, this is one channel which no hotels can afford to ignore anymore. OTA with their superior technology prowess is quite ahead, but hotels now need to develop a mobile strategy for promotions and outreach.

Evaluate carefully and create a customized campaign for mobile users. Remember, most global OTAs have a mobile application or mobile optimized website. Not having a mobile presence would mean losing traffic to your site, thereby losing the chance to get more direct bookings at better margins.

Stay tuned for part two of this series which will be posted in next week.
Image Credit: CC

 Alex Moura is the Regional Sales Director Latin America and Portugal at eRevMax. He can be reached at

How Social Media Can Increase Hotel’s Direct Bookings

Thanks to efforts of global influencers like Elon Musk, Facebook & Google internet access has accelerated faster than ever before with *over 3 billion people gaining online access as of 2015. This access has accelerated an already fertile e-Commerce market and helped increase B2C potential dramatically. Recent projections have valued the *B2C eCommerce business to over 3.2 Trillion dollars by 2020!
So with all that money flowing through the internet it’s no surprise hotel marketing teams should look to a cast a wider net via social media channels to pull in higher direct booking. But how much business for hotels can and is being generated directly through social media outlets today? And more importantly how can you effectively tap into social media in order to increase your direct bookings?

Amount Of Business Social Media Generates

Estimates show the *number of worldwide users on social networks by 2018 to be a whooping 2.5 Billion which is nearly 90% of all people online. In 2015, over 70 percent of the US population had social network profiles. According to a study made last year by the social times 28% of time spent online is spent on social media. And *nearly half of all online shoppers rely on social media when making a purchase online!
In hospitality alone there are over 148.3 million bookings made on the internet each year. The amount of business on the internet which is generated via social media is so overwhelming hotels have no choice but to focus on these channels. And the hotels who turn a blind eye to social media as a real avenue of generating direct business will be severely impacted and lose countless bookings to other properties who do cultivate their social networking channels.

First And Foremost, Know Your Market

*74% of online adults use social networking sites. It is important to remember who the current adult population is today. As scary as it may sound, it is Millennials who make up the largest consumer market. And according to Eventbrite research, Millennials spend $1.3 Trillion in annual consumer spending in the US alone! And 78% of Millennials would rather spend money on an experience over buying something desirable! So to pull in more direct business it’s a matter of marketing your hotels experience. And there is simply no better place online to market the experience you offer at your hotel than on social media! But it’s not enough to know who your market is (millennials) and where they are (online, on social media). You need to know HOW TO REACH & ENGAGE  THEM!  A staggering *1 in 5 Millennials access the internet exclusivelythrough their mobile devices. And the majority of their time on mobile is spent on social media!
So the stats would seem to point toward channelling your digital content to a mobile friendly environment. Unfortunately the below infographic from Hotel News Now gives great insight into how even Millennial hotel employees see a great need for improving mobile and tech use as a hotel.

Knowing the largest consumer markets technology trends and how their mobile and online use directly ties into their social media should encourage hotels to make the appropriate adjustments to reach potential clients more effectively.

You Must Give To Get

And no I am not just talking about content. According to recent online studies even the *accounts with the largest amount of followers are unable to reach their target markets and make conversions unless they pay for visibility. Today’s online traffic is so heavy that in order to really target potential customers you must pay for targeting campaigns. Spending more money on ads is the necessary evil to succeed via social media & digital marketing. And without doing so your chances of converting traffic into actual business is as likely as shooting an apple off a person’s head while blindfolded and being spun around. The outcome is obviously lethal and with regards to your business it could be the same. So at the end of the day when using social media as a channel to increase direct bookings, you really must give to get.
Investing those extra dollars to your marketing budgets is the only way to see any real results. And considering *social network ad spending hit over 23.6 Billion in 2015 alone, you can be sure if you don’t spend, your competitor will and they will reap the rewards instead of you.

  Paul Heil is the Global Sales Director at eRevMax. He can be reached at
* Over 3 billion people gaining access to the internet as of 2015 –
*number of worldwide users to be using social networks by 2018 to be a whooping 2.5 Billion –
* Nearly half of all online shoppers rely on social media when making a purchase online –
*74% of online adults use social networking sites. –
*1 in 5 Millennials access the internet  exclusively through their mobile devices. –
* accounts with larger amounts of followers are unable to reach their target markets and make conversions unless they pay for visibility –