Best Serviced Apartment Provider – The Ascott Limited
Both serviced apartment providers and booking agents were eligible to enter.
On the shortlist were some of the sector’s leading global players. Our winner, Singapore-headquartered The Ascott Limited, scooped the trophy for its focus on the guest experience, its Ascott Lifestyle programme, and its support of growing Chinese market. Its partnership with Samsung to allow guests to control apartment appliances via smartphone also impressed the judges.
Ascott, the world’s largest international serviced apartment owner-operator, has properties in more than 100 cities across 27 countries worldwide. It sees itself as a global company with local values, which is, perhaps, the secret of its success in delivering for its guests.
In its entry, Ascott highlighted its belief that one of the most important things it can offer corporate travellers is the chance to get to know the area they are visiting. To support this, it launched the Ascott Lifestyle programme in 2015. An optional service that is available at most of the company’s properties, this includes a selection of experiences based on guests’ interests, whether culture, food or wellness, plus the ‘five best things to do that only a local would know’ – from historic sites to coffee shops.
Guests staying for 30 or more nights are welcomed with a hamper of organic groceries. If they send a shopping list in advance, Ascott will ensure the items requested are in their apartment when they arrive. A property and area booklet helps these guests to make the most of their location, and Ascott staff meet with them regularly to futher tailor their stay.
China will continue to be a key market for Ascott, explained regional general manager Rebecca Hollants Van Loocke, speaking after the awards ceremony.
“Notwithstanding its so-called shrinking economy, China is growing more than any other world region. There are a lot of areas within it that have still to be developed. Its population is massive, so there is enormous demand for accommodation just from within China. Expanding there also helps us connect with the Chinese and bring that market to the other regions in which we operate.”
This year, Ascott became the first serviced apartment company to partner with Alitrip, the online travel service platform created by China’s Alibaba Group, and announced its new Tujia Somerset brand, which caters for the increasing demand from middle-class Chinese travellers. This joint venture with Tujia.com International (China’s equivalent of Airbnb) comes as Chinese tourists start to embrace independent travel.
Further demonstrating its support of the Chinese market, Ascott has developed two Chinese-traveller-friendly apartment blocks in London, which offer Chinese TV channels, cookery books, adapters and breakfast items.
The company believes that, in addition to its focus on continuous improvement in delivering the guest experience, its culturally diverse management group, which includes French, British and Chinese nationals, plays a part in its success, by making it quick to adapt and learn from the culture of the cities in which it operates. Ascott regularly promotes exchange of ideas through team-building programmes like its global conference, where top managers gather to benefit from one another’s perspectives and experiences.
Ascott’s approach is clearly working. Supplied with the entry, a testimonial from a business travel manager client said, “The competence and professionalism of my account manager makes all the difference. It’s easier talking with an account manager who knows their properties and drives our choices according to our needs.
”Of Ascott’s award, Rebecca Hollants Van Loocke said, “I was congratulated by all my competitors, which meant a lot to me. There are some very good serviced apartment providers out there, so it’s an enormous pleasure and privilege to have won the award. I’m really, really pleased!”