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18 Jul 2023

How-to Guide to Pick the Right Corporate Housing Partner

Dwellworks Living Hall: BTSE Stand: AV2
How-to Guide to Pick the Right Corporate Housing Partner
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Are you familiar with your corporate housing provider’s business model? Dwellworks Living leverages our strong global partner relationships and decades of experience in destination services to offer our clients the most complete solutions for global corporate housing needs – with simplified sourcing and total ownership for customer care.

Understanding the definition of, and the difference between, the various types of providers that offer temporary housing accommodations and services is not always so clear. Many companies that provide extended-stay housing support to corporate clients and relocation and travel management administrators have access to the same inventory. They also tend to use similar terminology throughout the sales and service experience, so it’s not surprising that clients may find it difficult to tell the differences among them.

In this blog, we'll help you understand each provider’s business model, their key differences, and why they matter. You can decide to ‘choose this’ for the solution that works best for your business travel and relocation needs or ‘skip’ the business models that are not the best fit for your support and service requirements.

Let’s dive in. 

Corporate Housing Operators

What They Do

When the corporate housing industry was founded more than fifty years ago, it was common practice for operators, also called providers or suppliers, to run entire furnished apartment communities to meet business travelers’ extended stay and relocation needs.

Over time, these operators were often asked by their clients if they could expand their core offerings. Operators started leasing individual units or blocks of apartments in a variety of multi-family housing communities outside their core markets, which they furnish and equip with all necessary housewares, and then sub-lease as serviced apartments at daily (or monthly) extended stay rates. Together, this housing stock is what’s commonly called inventory, which operators make available to clients/guests as corporate housing for a variety of extended-stay accommodations needs.

This model is the backbone of supply in the housing industry, with regional operators offering a variety of furnished apartment options in their respective markets.

Choose This if: You Have Limited Needs in Limited Markets

When clients have business travel or relocation needs in the market(s) where the provider is located, these local operators can often personally visit and manage the quality of new, furnished apartment inventory. Most corporate housing providers are hospitality experts who take pride in their units/buildings, and in the customer service for the guests in their care, with local teams on hand to meet guest needs.

Skip This if: You Need a Multi-City Solution

Corporate housing providers are often regional or local. When expanding into new markets, providers must try to manage risk by seeking client orders first and then finding inventory to match. This can extend the time needed to fulfill booking requests and the lead time needed prior to move-in.

Local suppliers do not typically invest in global sourcing and booking management software. Transactions are typically managed via phone calls and emails, which can lead to longer response times and manual reporting/updates. They can also grow their business by participating in the partner network of global solutions providers and agencies (see below).

Managing multiple providers for multiple markets means clients have to invest in personnel to access all of the serviced apartments they need and manage their supplier relationships. Complex, multi-market corporate housing needs may be better served through a global solutions partner.  

Hospitality Management Model

What They Do

Some large property management/hospitality management companies oversee buildings typically owned by development consortiums with thousands of rooms available for rent. This could include everything from a ‘functional college dorm’ to a ‘luxury suite’, and the properties are typically available in major travel/business/leisure markets likely to attract a large volume of customers. While the properties are professionally managed and typically of good quality, the catch is that the priority of the management firm is managing occupancy and return on investment, not necessarily leading with corporate housing needs.

In this model, corporate housing services are an occupancy channel, not the core business. Companies managing these in-house inventory units will typically respond to client requests for housing by presenting their own managed units as preferred options and, if not able to meet the need through their assets, then sourcing externally in a supply chain, which is less profitable for their business.

Choose This If: Your Priority is Supply Available at Any Cost

If your core requirement is a large supply of inventory, even if the lease cost is potentially higher so the asset managers can cover their risk and generate the highest possible ROI to their investors, an asset manager as a preferred partner may be your best option.

Skip This If: You Value Bias-Free Options

You want confidence that options are sourced with corporate housing client needs as the priority focus and there is no vested interest by the provider in leading with their owned/managed assets as the default option for the client’s need.

Marketplaces & Platforms

What They Do

In recent years, ‘hospitality-tech’ booking platforms have entered the temporary accommodations marketplace, imitating leisure and vacation rental models like VRBO and Airbnb. These technology companies invite corporate housing operators and other short-term rental hosts to their platforms and then connect clients and properties through a consumer-like algorithm for selecting units. Clients can browse, compare, and click to select, although a confirmed booking is not necessarily immediate, and the platform serves as a marketing channel for hosts/operators as much as a sourcing platform for guests/travelers. There is typically not a corporate housing professional who vets the options as aligned with complex business-to-business client expectations prior to displaying them to the customer.

These platform providers market themselves as technology companies and their business models may be focused on preserving a high valuation tied to a tech-driven versus operations/people-supported service model.

Choose This if: You Want a Leisure-User Experience

Clients can preview furnished apartment inventory (or samples of inventory) from across the world on a single platform or website and select preferences online. While the marketplace/platform operators may not provide the end-to-end, business-to-business services expected in corporate housing support, they present a simplified ‘search, click, and book’ (though not necessarily immediate confirmation) model. Their offerings may also include options to purchase local experiences and entertainment options, similar again to more leisure-driven hospitality platforms. To learn more about this model, download our white paper: Is Instant Booking a Reality in Corporate Housing?

Skip This If: You Need Support Beyond Browsing and Booking

While no one intentionally disappoints customers, the platform business model shifts full accountability for a successful service experience to the ‘host’ and ‘guest’, with limited service intervention and global program management coordination. Clients and customers can expect to take on more direct service coordination and issue resolution.

Some platform services allow housing providers to pay for preferred placement in search results, which can make it more difficult for customers to objectively evaluate choices that best meet their needs. Many platform operators also do not offer consolidated billing, requiring clients to receive and manage separate invoices and payment terms from multiple housing providers.

Regional Serviced Apartment Agencies 

What They Do

As the market for alternative accommodations has grown, some corporate housing operators have chosen to partner with Serviced Apartment Agents, who present the capabilities of a variety of operators to potential clients. The agent effectively acts as a broker between client demand and operator supply. The agent may or may not have their own inventory, and they source operator options for their clients. The agents/agencies are typically corporate housing/temporary accommodations professionals who understand the business and the variety of available housing options and operations.

This approach allows clients to access a wider array of serviced apartments, depending on who the agents have in their network and the sophistication of their sourcing software. The agencies vary in size and scope and technology interfaces, and their services typically include management of client service expectations and reporting, in addition to sourcing and booking.

Choose This If: You Want Professional Coordination at Limited Scale  

Agents are often regional experts and have personal relationships with local/regional corporate housing providers, which helps to keep a pulse on availability in a specific market. These partners typically offer high-touch customer service within the scope of serviced apartment bookings and are focused on prompt confirmation of bookings as their primary client experience/interaction.

Skip This If: You Need Global Program Management

Although they monitor client needs and are typically focused on fast turn times and communications management, many agencies also typically rely on email and phone calls to complete transactions, which can result in booking windows that take a few days to complete rather than a few hours. Although in general, agencies may be very prompt to respond in specific markets with their most reliable suppliers, they may not have the global reach needed for more complex housing programs. 

Global Solutions Partners

What They Do

Amid a growing need and expectation for high-quality, apartment-style, extended-stay business travel accommodations, many travel and mobility managers have expressed a need for a solution that combines the best attributes of every type of provider listed above.

Clients need reliable, local expertise with high-touch service, as well as access to booking software that is responsive to all their specifications, including customization aligned with their travel and mobility policies. They also need guest services to help business travelers settle into their accommodations with the confidence of 24-hour support as well as business services such as pricing leverage, flexibility on moves and changes, reporting and analysis, and support for large-scale projects, group moves, intern populations, and more.

Choose This If: You Want Streamlined Solutions for Every Corporate Housing Need

Clients with complex business travel and workforce mobility needs expect access to a fully vetted, continuously expanding global network of the world’s most trusted corporate housing providers, who offer award-winning, 24/7 client and guest support, on-the-ground local expertise, and a business-to-business approach to managing cost and service with sophisticated analysis and consultative account management.

Clients get the benefit of a single, purpose-built application to browse, customize, request, confirm, and manage serviced apartment stays globally. They can preview property options on the solutions provider’s site and, with Dwellworks Living’s solutions, also have access to additional services such as area orientation tours, intercultural training, long-term housing searches, settling-in services, and more.

End-to-end global solutions providers deliver global account management, which includes cost reporting, consolidated, multi-currency billing, and analytics-led improvements in process and recommendations for client policy and practice.

Skip This If: You Have the Capacity to Manage Global Accommodations Needs on Your Own

To take full advantage of the scale and cost savings of the solutions model, clients need to evaluate their comfort with outsourced expertise versus in-house management of their extended stay/alternative accommodations programs.

Companies that successfully outsource the management of their corporate housing program are those that adopt a more holistic, strategic approach to realize all available benefits, including greater pricing leverage and streamlined administration.

Dwellworks Living Could Be Your Match

Dwellworks Living delivers an end-to-end, global solutions model to meet all our clients’ sourcing and service needs. Based on our experience as the world’s largest and most trusted provider of destination-related services for globally mobile employees, and our award-winning global team of service-oriented, accommodations experts, Dwellworks Living is the only partner able to combine all the benefits of working with a network of 3,500 award-winning corporate housing providers, a leading-edge sourcing and selection technology, and the additional support that extended-stay travelers and relocating employees need when managing the complexities of their assignments, whether for 30 days or a year.

Be sure to read our blogs to learn more about Dwellworks Living and click here to find the tools you need to get started with a Dwellworks Living solution.

Dwellworks Living: Global Solutions for Corporate Accommodations 

Dwellworks Living is committed to providing our clients and their employees with the best possible corporate housing and serviced accommodations experience. With a global network of property partners, a tri-regional team of customer experience and supply chain professionals, and a wide range of services for global mobility and travel customers, Dwellworks Living can provide the perfect corporate housing solution for any need or budget.

Dwellworks Living is the global corporate housing solution of Dwellworks, an award-winning, business-to-business provider of global mobility and business travel services. As a global leader in corporate housing and serviced accommodations solutions, Dwellworks Living is uniquely positioned to meet the temporary living needs of businesses and their employees who are relocating or traveling on short-, medium- or extended-stays. With 60,000 high-quality professionally managed properties in over 125 countries worldwide, Dwellworks Living is the preferred housing solutions partner of many Fortune 1000 and leading relocation management companies.

Dwellworks Living's corporate housing and serviced accommodations solutions are designed to help businesses attract and retain top talent, support employee productivity, and ensure a smooth and successful relocation or business travel experience. In addition to our core global accommodations management services, Dwellworks Living, through our worldwide network of local experts, is uniquely capable of offering our clients expanded and related services, such as area orientations, group move assistance, destination services and intercultural training.

Whether you have corporate housing needs for an individual employee or a large team, Dwellworks Living can provide the serviced accommodations solutions you need anywhere in the world to ensure a safe and successful stay. Please contact us to learn more or visit our Properties page to begin your search for global corporate housing accommodations.

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