A couple of weeks ago, TLG President Michelle White and our Property Manager Laura Lamanna-Scali attended the CHPA Annual Conference in Fort Worth. This is always a fun event – it’s great to meet so many of the people we work with across North America in person, and of course the Canadian-hosted receptions are the must-attend events of the week.
More importantly, it’s a great opportunity for us to learn about the cutting-edge trends in corporate housing, furnished accommodation, employee mobility and relocation, and travel related to long-term stays.
Here are some of the hot-button issues that we (and others) found most compelling at the conference:
The rise of Airbnb – and what it means for corporate housing
With the launch of Airbnb’s own corporate travel portal last year, there has been increased use of Airbnb for business travelers and increased acceptance of Airbnb as an acceptable alternative to hotels and executive suites.
However, it’s still largely unregulated and has minimal oversight, which is why it’s important for legitimate corporate housing providers to acquire, maintain and publicize their designations (like CCHP) and accreditations (such as CHPA and ASAP). It’s easier for corporate decision makers and individual employees to choose a ‘real’ corporate housing provider when they know they can be assured of high quality and service, and that individual suites have been inspected and certified to meet health and safety standards.
It’s also important to note that while Toronto hasn’t yet seen a municipal ban on short-term private accommodation (such as what Airbnb provides), we’re seeing increasing numbers of condo corporations setting minimum rental stays at 1-6 months. This will affect Airbnb-type accommodation in the short-term, but will also have ramifications for corporate housing in the longer term.
The rise of value-adds
As the corporate housing market continues to mature, and the number of condos available in big cities continues to grow, we’re seeing an increase in value-adds offered to guests and/or their employers. These include:
- Unlimited wifi (already standard in the US, we’ll see this move to Canada this year)
- Smart tvs with streaming services like Netflix
- Expanded concierge services (having a personal assistant or driver on-call)
- Meal deals with services like UberEats
Using social media to drive traffic and word-of-mouth
Even in large companies where corporate housing providers are chosen by a purchasing department or HR team, word of mouth continues to be vital for corporate housing – nothing compares to a great (or terrible) reference from an actual person who has stayed in an actual suite.
So there was a lot of talk at the conference about using social media to help drive, capture and leverage positive word of mouth.
CHPA and ASAP (now ISAAP) working more closely together
With the increase in international employee mobility and relocation, it makes sense for the CHPA (which mostly covers North America) and ISAAP (which covers the UK and EU) to work more closely together. This will allow for international designations and certifications, and make it easier for companies in both North America and the EU to work together with a high level of confidence.
(At TLG, we’re already ASAP accredited, and 4 of our employees have their CCHP designation.)
What are we watching most closely?
Changes to condominium acts, the ever-growing Toronto real estate market, and the changing needs of a mobile workforce are all topics we’ll be thinking about in 2016.