As short-term rentals remain in the regulatory grey zone in many parts of Asia, Arthur Kiong, CEO, Far East Hospitality, explains why serviced residences offer an accommodation sweet spot that combines 'living like a local' with comforts usually associated with hotel stay.
Home-sharing platforms have been steadily gaining traction since its commencement as an affordable “couch-surfing” accommodation option. It has become one of the preferred ways for the “I want to live like a local” traveller demographic – the group of travellers who wish to experience how the people of the destination live, and become one of the locals.
However, governments and the hospitality industry were unprepared for this rapid growth in home-sharing platforms. Rules had to be enforced, but how and what to put in place was a concern. Existing residents were raising complaints against strangers entering their residences. And most importantly, security has been an ongoing issue for the guests. In fact, a recent report by Investment Property Exchange Services found that one out of 10 home-sharing guests have found a hidden camera during their stay.
From licensing to the minimum-stay period for rentals – countries in South-east Asia have been setting strict regulations on home-sharing platforms. But hospitality industries need to work in tandem with the governments as well.
The need for hospitality players to step up
As hospitality players, it is important for us to understand travellers’ psychographics and preferences. Knowing and catering to guests’ needs is one of the key driving factors of industry growth.
Today, people travel for work, for leisure or for memorable family staycations – the reasons vary. And hotels need to recognise these different profiles in order to stay relevant.
Take, for instance, a family of six travelling for two-weeks in Singapore. Chances are, a standard hotel room will be too small, and an extra room will be costly. But this doesn’t mean that this family needs to turn to a home-sharing platform. Instead, they can consider a serviced residence.
Changing the perception of serviced residences
Many view serviced residences to be for business or relocating travellers, but they aren’t limited to just these profiles.
They can be for anyone who prefer more space, less amenities that they do not need, and a bit more privacy than from hotels.
By 2030, it is predicted that travellers will travel to experience life as a local for a unique and personalised trip. A growing number of travellers prefer an accommodation that makes them feel at home while having the comfort of a hotel.
Serviced residences are one growing accommodation option that can provide guests the “home-away-from-home” sentiment. Simply put, they offer guests the chance to live like a local, with more freedom to stay as they would at home. They have the room to cook, do laundry, personalise the space as if they are continuing on with their daily routine, all with security as a standard.
Serviced residences are also unique in the sense that it serves different target markets and opens up new expansion opportunities for the industry. They can be catered towards modern travellers and offer contemporary living spaces. Or, for travellers who are conscious of their wellness, there are serviced residences that provide amenities such as fitness centres, tennis courts and swimming pools for use.
“Better safe than sorry”
Countries like the US, Canada, France, England may be more welcoming to home-sharing platforms because they have the space to host. However, home-sharing platforms bring about an immense challenge in Asia, largely because there is an uneven playing field.
Asia has strict property regulations due to our environment. There is limited land to build residential areas, and owning property is scarce and viewed as a privilege. As such, these nations often have strict minimum rental periods – not just for tourists, but for citizens as well.
So, for anyone planning a trip to Asia any time soon, remember this – no one has the answer to how long home-sharing platforms will be regulated. But we do know that our industry is, and always will be, legal.