Benefits of Corporate Housing Programs

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Corporate Housing Programs – How they add value for the Corporate and the User

For the Corporate rolling out a corporate housing program, there are a number of areas where they can expect to see benefits. Those benefits can be categorised as follows:

Time Savings

A Corporate Housing program will involve establishing a portfolio of properties to meet the continuous needs of the business to house people on temporary assignments, typically from a week to a year. The properties will be procured to meet the needs of the organisation for a good quality, harmonised standard of accommodation, in a good area within close proximity of work sites. Once the properties have been procured, ideally in clusters or close proximity to each other, there’s no reason why those properties can’t be utilised for a number of years, provided the need for housing continues. Assignees do not need to spend time out of the office viewing properties – instead, on arrival, they will be moved directly into a company property saving time on viewings, lease negotiations, utility set up etc etc.

The accommodation will also be managed by the agent on behalf of the corporate meaning that residents have a single point of contact to manage all property related matters. Agents will be performing to agreed SLA standards, typically significantly more service orientated than the service delivered by letting agents/landlords.

Quality & Safety

A corporate housing program will ensure that a harmonised standard of accommodation is provided across the board. Every assignee will benefit from a centrally approved standard of accommodation providing an agreed range of amenities and furnishings. The Corporate Housing agency will be responsible for ensuring that every property complies with Gas and Electrical Equipment Safety regulations. There will also be an agreed level of ongoing services such as regular cleaning, linen change and maintenance services to ensure that properties are maintained to a good standard.

Cost Savings

There are a number of ways in which a Corporate Housing Program can be used to drive down cost:

  1. Reduced Hotel Usage – properties can be made available to move into immediately on an assignees arrival. Where spaces exist within the portfolio of properties, those spaces can be used for transitory stays instead of hotels delivering further cost savings of up to 40%;
  2. Reduced Serviced Apartment Spend – using leased properties instead of Serviced Apartments can drive further savings of up to 20%;
  3. Reduced Relocation Expense – for assignees requiring housing for less than a specified period (typically 1 year), by placing them directly into a Corporate Housing portfolio, the need for relocation expenses (home viewings, settling in expenses etc) are eliminated;
  4. Reduced Per Diem Cost – for assignees living in corporate housing with cooking and washing facilities, the need for substantial per diem payments is significantly reduced.

Tax & Cost Reporting

Instead of paying individual allowances or settling individual invoices, a single consolidated invoice will be produced each month along with a range of reports providing visibility of:

  • Total cost per head per night;
  • Taxable Status of Assignees;
  • Trends Analysis;

Summary

For the User, Corporate Housing (whether leased or Serviced Apartments) is increasingly the accommodation of choice, particularly for assignments of a week or longer. Corporate Accommodation provides employees with a range of benefits:

  • Far more space than a typical hotel room;
  • The ability to live in a more sustainable way – cooking their own meals, washing their own clothes;
    The accommodation is generally spacious enough to enable friends and family to visit;
  • Particularly for assignees commuting home at weekends, accommodation enables them to leave their belongings on site.

Corporate Housing Programs

Corporate Housing Programs – What are they and where did they begin?

Corporate Housing programs began to develop in the late 90’s and early noughties in response to growth of the project based assignment – not a long term relocation requiring relocation support and not a short term move requiring hotel accommodation but something in between. The consulting industry is thought to have pioneered Corporate Housing Programs with substantial demand for project based housing. Corporate Housing Programs are now popular with organisations operating across the Government, Engineering, Banking, Finance, Auditing and Retail Industries particularly around Head Offices and Major Project Sites where large numbers of personnel are anticipated to travel.

Typically, a corporate housing program is intended to meet the needs of personnel moving for periods of a week to one year, needing:

-    flexibility to cut assignments short on a few days notice;
-    space to make themselves feel more at home;
-    facilities to cook for themselves;
-    facilities to wash their own clothes

A well structured corporate housing program will generally include a mixture of long term rental accommodation leased by the corporate housing agency on behalf of the corporate as close to work sites as possible and operated to suit personnel needs in terms of cleaning and linen services. Long term leased accommodation will be used to meet all needs from a week to a few months. Once a leased portfolio is full and to meet short term spikes in demand, Serviced Apartments can be booked for shorter periods as and when needed. The combination of these two solution types form the bedrock of a corporate housing program.

Go Native Presenting at the Totally Expat Show

As many of you will know the Totally Expat Show will be taking place at The Marriott Hotel in Grosvenor Square, London on Monday, 24th May 2010.

We are a gold sponsor of the event and will also be holding a seminar alongside two of our major consulting clients on “Managing Housing Costs as part of a Corporate Housing Program”.

David Carmichael from Logica and Caroline Thorley-Farrer from ATOS Origin will be joining our CEO, Guy Nixon in a 20 minute presentation.

ATOS Origin and Logica are two of the largest movers of personnel into and around the UK, together accounting for many 100’s of moves each year. David and Caroline will share brief highlights of the ways in which they have utilised an outsourced corporate housing program to control and track their housing expenditure.

For more information about the Totally Expat Show click here.

For those attending we look forward to seeing you there. Stop by our stand and enter our competition to win a free nights stay in one of our Serviced Apartments and some theatre vouchers.

Plus give us your business card and you will be entered into a champagne prize draw.

Housing Market Intelligence Report – Reading (Berkshire)

Housing Market Intelligence Report - Reading
We are pleased to announce our latest Housing Market Intelligence Report is now available to download.Click here
Abstract: There is an established range of corporate housing options in Reading, and, as is typical in a mature market, the quality of these options is relatively consistent.

UK Market Commentary: Serviced Apartment rates fell by 5% in London and 8.5% in the Regions in 2009

After 18 months of contracting supply and falling prices in both the Serviced Apartment and Long-Term Rental Markets, we’re beginning to see an upward push on pricing.


London & Regional Serviced Apartment Rate Forecast

Members of the Association of Serviced Apartment Providers reported a 2% increase in occupancy in 2009.

Serviced Apartment rates in 2009 fell by 5% in London & by 8.5% in the Regions.

As portfolios have contracted, we are beginning to see a gentle upward push on pricing.

We forecast modest growth in 2010 of 2% for London Serviced Apartments and 0% growth regionally.

London & Regional Long Term Rental Rate Forecast Graph

Long Term rental rates in 2009 fell by 7.5% in London and 8% regionally.

We forecast modest growth in 2010 of 2 – 4% for London long-term rental rates and marginal growth regionally.

Business Etiquette – Turkey

As we have expanded our operations to provide Serviced Apartments and Corporate Housing solutions across not only the UK but also EMEA and India, we have undertaken investigative work to produce Housing Market Intelligence Reports the first of which was about Istanbul.   Alongside these factual and analytical reports about the nature of corporate housing solutions we also felt that it would be useful to provide companies and individual travellers wishing to do business abroad with some basic information about the business etiquette of a particular country.

Different countries can operate in very different ways to the UK so we hope this on-going series of posts will act as helpful guides.   We are starting off with Turkey to compliment the release of our first report.

Business Etiquette – Meeting and Greeting
When meeting, shake hands firmly. When departing, it is not always customary to shake hands although it is practised occasionally.

In the business context most women will shake hands with men. However, this may not be the case in Eastern or rural Turkey where people are more conservative. If you are unsure, wait for the woman to extend her hand.

When addressing a Turk the most common method is to call a man by his first name followed by ‘bey’ (pronounced bay). So, Ertan Gonca, would be Ertan Bey. Similarly a woman’s first name would be followed by ‘hanim’ (pronounced ha-num).  Where professional titles exist such as Doctor or Professor, always use them either on their own of before the first name.  This is also the case with many other professions such as lawyers ‘Avukat’, engineers ‘Muhendis’ and managers ‘Mudur’.

When doing business in Turkey, initial meetings should always concentrate on relationship building. It is recommended to engage in some light conversation to establish rapport. The Turkish culture is very family orientated so questions about children will always go down well.  The Turks are proud of their country and will enjoy answering questions on their culture and history although be sure to avoid political history. Most Turkish men love football and usually support one of three teams: Galatasaray, Besiktas or Fenerbahçe.  Engaging in conversation about their teams recent fortunes will always produce lively responses.

Business Etiquette – Entertaining
When doing business in Turkey it is likely you will be taken to a restaurant. Turks enjoy food and the meal is a time for relaxing and engaging in some good conversation.

The protocol of Turkish hospitality dictates that the host always pays for the meal. The concept of sharing a bill is alien. You may try and offer to pay, which may be seen as polite, but you would never be allowed to do so.  When doing business in Turkey the best policy is to graciously thank the host then a few days later invite them to dinner at a restaurant of your choice.

Business Etiquette – Negotiations
If you are going to Turkey to do business, there are 2 very important things to bare in mind. Your success is defined by your ability to build effective personal relationships combined with a clearly outlined and well presented proposal.

Business is personal in Turkey. Although this is changing with the more corporate culture in some of the larger companies, many businesses are still family owned and run.

Turks will look at doing business with those they like, trust, feel comfortable with and with those that can provide a long term relationship. As well as looking to the person, Turks are also astute business people. Ensure your proposal clearly demonstrates the mutual benefit and profitability of any agreement or partnership.

Turks are primarily oral and visual communicators so in addition to written statistics, projections and the like try to present information vocally or with maps, graphs and charts.

If your business in Turkey involves negotiating, it may not always be necessary to focus on financial benefits. It is just as useful to point to areas such as power, influence, honour, respect and other non-monetary incentives.

Decision making can be slow. It is most likely that you will meet and negotiate with less senior members of a family or company first. Once you are seen as trustworthy and your proposal financially viable you will then move on to meet more senior members. A decision is ultimately made by the head of the family/company.

Prior to doing business or entering negotiations in Turkey know your target figure and work slowly towards it through meaningful concessions. When conceding ensure you present this as a favour and a decision made out of respect and liking for your counterpart(s). Try and concede only once you have gained agreement on a reciprocal concession on a separate or related issue.

Do not use deadlines or pressure tactics as the Turks will use this to their advantage and reverse the tactic by threatening to cancel agreements or end negotiations. Be patient.

Go Native Housing Market Intelligence Reports

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Go Native Housing Market Intelligence Reports
As we further expand our service delivery across the UK, EMEA and India our industry focused advisors lead the way on the subject of mobility.   We want to share our knowledge about corporate housing solutions with Travel Managers, Global Mobility Professionals and Procurement Managers who are seeking short, medium and long term housing solutions.

Drawing on our unrivalled experience and knowledge of temporary housing markets, we have undertaken investigative work to produce insightful Housing Market Intelligence Reports in each of the key business locations across the UK, EMEA & India. The reports explain the nature of corporate housing solutions available in each location, the pros and cons of each, and make recommendations towards the most effective solutions.

Our first report on Istanbul is complete.   We are also scheduled to produce a range of other reports over the course of the year for: Abu Dhabi, London, all Major UK Business Centres, Germany and Greece.

Istanbul Housing Market Intelligence Report

In a unique location bridging Europe and Asia, Istanbul stands out as being one of the most promising locations for business growth among the emerging European markets. With an estimated 18-20 million residents, many existing companies are expanding their presence in this fast emerging market with new business interests arriving daily.

As a result of this exciting growth, the corporate housing market is swiftly expanding to meet growing demand for alternatives to the traditional hotel options, particularly for extended business travellers.

Register for free to access this content and download the Report.

Your feedback on the content of the reports would be very welcome.

Go Native has a range of Serviced Apartments available to meet any requirement across the UK, EMEA and India.

Redefining Accommodation Policies to Reduce Business Travel Spend

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As discussed in the previous blog post there are now a whole host of potentially suitable solutions for Corporate accommodation.   Consequently, there is an opportunity for many HR Leaders to redefine their accommodation policies to reflect the different types of solution now available in the market and in so doing, to significantly reduce their accommodation spend. A typical accommodation policy that embraces corporate accommodation might now include policy direction on the following key areas:

(i)    Hotels vs. Corporate Housing

Many organisations now mandate that any stay of 5-7 nights or longer should be booked into corporate housing rather than hotel accommodation.

(ii)    Per Diems

Personnel housed in a Serviced Apartment with cooking and laundry facilities provided, clearly don’t need to receive the same level of per diem as personnel housed in hotels where no such facilities exist.

(iii)    Single vs. Shared Occupancy

A growing number of organisations now direct that employees below a certain level are required to share accommodation, typically 2 bedroom, 2 bathroom apartments. This approach has been embraced by the consulting, IT and outsourcing and engineering industries with many project teams, working on client sites, where there is continual demand for housing throughout the term of a project. Multiple occupancy delivers further savings of up to 40% over the cost of single occupancy accommodation and has been overwhelmingly well received by assignees required to share. A well run program will ensure that sensitivities such as not requiring men and women or vegetarians and meat eaters to share.

What is Corporate Accommodation?

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The term “corporate accommodation” is a relatively new one for many organisations with a degree of uncertainty around what the term does and doesn’t include: long term lets, short term lets, Serviced Apartments, hostels, apart-hotels and hotels all have a part to play in a sophisticated corporate accommodation program. Depending on which factors (see below) are of most importance to an organisation any one of these solutions could be of value:

  • length of each requirement
  • the degree of flexibility required
  • the location
  • the number of people to be housed
  • the level of service required
  • the degree of visibility of an organisations ongoing demand
  • the budget available

Ten years ago, there were very few solutions that sat between hotels (high service, flexibility and cost) and long term Leased Apartments (low service, flexibility and cost). Today, the market is much more sophisticated with a range of options available in most business centres around the world. A sophisticated corporate housing program will probably include many if not all of these intermediate solutions at some time with the most significant components being Serviced Apartments and longer term Leased Apartments, apartments leased in the long term rental market.

The Value of Corporate Accommodation
Understanding the corporate accommodation market and the options available depending on the profile of your corporate accommodation demand is a quick win for any organisation looking to drive greater value. This is particularly so for any organisation that continues to look predominately, or exclusively, to the hotel market to meet it’s demand for temporary accommodation.