Partner Engagement Day Insights: What can we consider for 2023?

Partner Engagement Day Insights: What can we consider for 2023?

Partner Engagement Day Insights: What can we consider for 2023?
13th December 2022

The third-annual Partner Engagement Day saw SilverDoor host over 140 senior decision-makers from our network of over 4,000 property partners and clients for an afternoon of presentations and panel discussions. What were the hot topics? What did we learn? What knowledge can we take with us into 2023 

Key Takeaways

The supply chain is getting to grips with Sustainability, but we need to shout about it more 

Many property providers in SilverDoor's partner network have undertaken Sustainability programmes and practices, with many making significant headway with their green initiatives. Quality Assurance Manager at SilverDoor, Toby Roberts, gave his perspective on the current state of play regarding sustainability in serviced apartments:

“In the last 12 months, we have seen a real shift in the appetite for reporting on carbon emissions and footprint. Suppliers’ carbon footprint contributes to companies’ calculations in selecting suppliers who are demonstrating tangible reductions in their emissions. This is critical for companies in the race to zero. The first step in demonstrating this is by benchmarking where you are now, and the advice and guidance to help them take that first step is out there.” 

corporate event in The Gherkin
Lee Jackson (SmartCarbon) gave a compelling and insightful talk focused on Sustainable best practice

Travel is simply a cost of doing business

Corporates unanimously agree that travel is alive and kicking. So, although business travellers do continue to take fewer trips, they are of a longer duration: a trend which has endured for over a year and that we are confident will continue.

The focus on sustainability has factored into this, with many corporates looking to demonstrate a reduction in air miles and travel frequency. The trend for combining business and leisure travel is still an important factor to consider as it is becoming increasingly common for family to accompany travellers, and for them to extend the trip with annual leave. Staff are now more inclined to comfortably ask for this as a standard add-on to a business trip.

Clients are open to the 'greenium 

This year we have received an increasing number of enquiries from property partners regarding sustainable best practice and client preferences. This became a key discussion point during the Partner Engagement Day, with many partners seeking clarity on the trajectory of client appetites for sustainable offerings.

SilverDoor is often asked whether the corporate customer is prepared to pay for the sustainability improvement premium. As Toby Roberts reflects: 

"The resounding response among our partners and stakeholders is that the most forward-thinking companies are increasingly willing to invest in greener product. Our experience has been that many property providers are making great progress with sustainability best practices; however, they are not necessarily communicating these achievements effectively, or in a tangible, data-driven way.” 

Host and Group Head of Partner Relationships at SilverDoor, Alex Neale, concluded that better visibility and communication surrounding these issues will profoundly impact the readiness of corporates to invest in greener accommodation options:

“The industry needs to be better at shouting about what it’s doing from a sustainability perspective. We are comfortable telling businesses they need to pay more, and businesses are open to these conversations, but it’s critical they have the data to support those conversations.”

Airbnb still considered too risky by many large corporates

Competition from homestay providers within the long-stay market has been brewing, but the compliance, security and structure provided by serviced accommodation is preferred by most corporates. Toby Roberts said of this trend:  

“There are still simply too many unknowns and potential risks associated with Airbnb for many of the largest corporate clients. When it works well, it’s fine. But you need that watertight assurance that guests will be safe and secure, or can be quickly and easily moved to an alternative unit if something goes wrong. This can often be difficult to guarantee in a homestay scenario.”

Greater cost scrutiny from clients

Over the next 6-12 months we expect ‘discretionary’ and transient corporate travel, which has not returned to the pre-pandemic baseline, to continue to be squeezed. The tech industry in particular has seen an explosion in global travel in 2022, however, the recent price rises and severe staffing cuts from Twitter and Meta may cause this to slow in 2023.

"We are seeing shorter lead periods and quicker response times demanded and, it sounds obvious, but travel buyers should try to plan for longer lead times. This not only allows for better rates, but a wider range of option availability, too. We do continue to recommend anticipatory booking for corporate travellers looking to secure rates whilst operators offer favourable winter terms."

-  Victoria Jackson, Senior Marketing Manager, SilverDoor

Seamless booking technology

Another major takeaway from the Partner Engagement Day was the desire from both corporates and property operators for improved booking technology. Martin Klima, Chief Customer Officer at SilverDoor, said:

"Technology is an essential component of business travel. Corporates want a frictionless experience from their facilitators, including agents and property providers. Business travellers want more control over the booking process and, increasingly, clients are requesting self-booking capabilities. Our client panel unanimously agreed that there is a fundamental need for the serviced apartment sector to offer online booking capabilities on a broader scale."

- Martin Klima, Chief Customer Officer, SilverDoor 

Clients have an insatiable appetite for data

Clients are making more extensions to bookings than ever, placing considerable importance on agents’ data tracking and trend analysis to inform and educate property providers on these market shifts. Data analysis on supply, demand and rates will be key to directing resources in the right direction as we move into 2023.

"The corporate buyer is often pretty risk-averse and wants to make an informed choice, so we can never have enough data on what’s happening in markets, spend insights and trends. Rate and availability data aids benchmarking at the highest level and corroborates price increases to reinforce the truth."

- Alex Neale, Group Head of Partner Relationships, SilverDoor

Key Predictions

presentation at The Gherkin
SilverDoor's Senior Client Programme Manager, Alison Willis, hosted the 'Changing Dynamics and Priorities for Business Travel and Relocation' panel

Accommodation rates will continue to rise

Travel buyers need to recognise that the keen rates they were enjoying in 2020/2021 are likely a thing of the past. Indeed, Q4 2022 rates are up 25% on the same period last year. (Source: SilverDoor)

"The leisure and tourism sector continues to influence the availability of accommodation, and the strong foreign exchange market for international travellers will keep occupancy buoyant into 2023. We predict volumes will stay healthy, but a strong pipeline of new openings makes for improved availability in primary locations as we enter 2023."

-  Martin Klima, Chief Customer Officer, SilverDoor

Mindful travel is here to stay

Sustainable travel is a major consideration, playing a significant role in the trend towards fewer trips of a longer duration. Internal discussions at a corporate level regarding the necessity of transient travel, and whether online meetings are a substitute for in-person assignments, continue to influence investment decisions.

"Clients are increasingly seeking a greener supply chain in order to reduce their own carbon footprints, meet their ESG targets and work toward net zero goals. The supply chain would do well to track, report and provide tangible data on their carbon reduction efforts, as well as their overall carbon footprint – starting now. In turn, the data can be measured so clients can make smarter choices."

-  Toby Roberts, Quality Assurance Manager, SilverDoor

The discerning business traveller wants it all – and is prepared to pay for it

Business travellers are becoming more discerning and demanding more from their trips; they typically do a lot of pre-booking research and want self-pay technology for booking charges that are outside policy. They are asking to combine a travel experience that can be managed, booked and paid for within policy, as well as self-service ‘extras’ to give greater control and choice.

"Travel and booking need to deliver a process that’s easy and frictionless, and results in a fully bespoke experience. Indeed, our clients report better buy-in from travellers when they are choosing their own accommodation and many are opting to ask guests to choose from a range of approved options, rather than being told ‘you’re staying here’.

2022 was SilverDoor’s most successful year of business ever and our partners have multiple openings in the pipeline across all our global regions. This demonstrates that the corporate housing sector has not only bounced back, but has truly come back swinging" 

- Martin Klima, Chief Customer Officer, SilverDoor 

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