Interview with Nancy Faure, VP Sales & Marketing Europe, The Ascott Limited The Ascott Limited is one of the international leaders in serviced residences and reports having more than 630 residences worldwide, representing just over 94,000 studios and apartments worldwide (including more than 39,000 under development).
What are the group’s brands and their particularities?
The Ascott Limited is one of the first international owner-operators of hotel residences. Present on all 5 continents, the group offers 6 brands and targets a corporate clientele, mainly business travellers. Each brand targets a different market segment.
Ascott’s The Residence targets international, high-end clientele. This brand targets business leaders who are looking for a luxurious setting for their international travel. This chain is present in Asia and the Middle East only.
The Crest Collection is positioned on the same luxury range; 95% of its customers are international. We offer luxury, exclusive and personalized service. Under this brand name, we only operate properties located in buildings with character, with a particular history or architecture. We focus on charm and intimacy. Two locations are currently open in Paris: La Clef Louvre and La Clef Tour Eiffel. One opening is scheduled in January 2019: La Clef Champs Elysées, also in Paris.
The Somerset brand is present in Asia and the Middle East only. It is designed for expatriate families. We therefore offer large common areas and apartments. All lobbies are equipped with play areas for children and the properties generally have a swimming pool.
Citadines is our mid-range brand. It targets business travellers and couples as well as families who wish to remain independent while enjoying the comfort and space of an apartment. Since the brand was acquired by The Ascott Limited in 2004, more than €125 million has been invested to renovate the network. Each year 3 to 4 residences are renovated in Europe (mostly under the brand Citadines, one of the most important brands in Europe).We are waiting for the opening of the 1st Citadines in the USA soon on 5th Avenue in New York. Out of nearly 130 urban properties in the world, 38 are in Europe.
Quest is a brand positioned on the same range and it targets a similar clientele to that of Citadines. It is an acquisition made by the group in 2017. The brand’s park is historically Australian and New Zealand with more than 150 residences.
Our latest addition, Lyf (Live your freedom), targets millennials. It’s a very different concept. We assume that by 2020 more than 50% of business travellers will be millennials. It is necessary to adapt to the expectations of this «co- generation» (co-working, co-living...). We therefore offer a simple room, and everything happens in the common areas. Co-working areas, lounges, a community kitchen, play and relaxation areas...
The brand will make its debut in Asia with the first openings planned for late 2018 and 2019 in China and the Philippines, and in 2020 and 2021 in Singapore. There is no opening forecasted on the European market yet, but we are doing everything we can to establish the brand in Europe as well.
What is the DNA of The Ascott Limited brands?
Our motto is «Home, away from home». We want all our customers to feel at home by offering space, friendliness and services. Of course, we provide more or less services depending on the brand.
We focus on our job as hoteliers with a sense of hospitality and know-how, many services such as 24-hour reception and breakfast, but also the security of the property, etc. This allows us to stand out from the shared accommodations market.
What are the group’s projects? What are its development priorities?
The key word is growth. We are looking to grow the network. We are confident that we will reach 80,000 apartments by the end of 2018 and we aim to have 160,000 apartments by 2023. This is our number one objective, whether through acquisitions, the development of management contracts or franchising. We are thus developing the group’s brands very quickly in China with more than 110 properties in 30 cities.
In June 2019, we will launch the first Citadines franchise in Nantes and a second one the following year in Strasbourg.
Our second goal is to adapt to consumer expectations regarding new technologies. We are working on redesigning sites, launching a loyalty program, digitizing the booking experience and in our properties. For example, we are testing the dematerialized check-in and out in one of our Parisian locations. We are developing a loyalty card to familiarize ourselves with our customers who increasingly come for short stays. To date, our clients spend on average more than 5 days in our European hotels.
For the Citadines brand, we focus on the customer experience to meet the need for space. Communicating rooms are being developed that can accommodate up to 6 people, making them ideal for blended families, for example. We have also redesigned our breakfast areas to better meet the needs of today’s consumers. For example, in one of our London locations, we have launched a partnership with Sourced Market for space management and to offer our customers and external consumers organic, local and fair-trade products. At some properties, we also offer a few rooms without kitchens, again to meet the demand of our customers.
In terms of development, in Europe, we will open 3 new properties in 2019: La Clef Champs Elysées in Paris in January, in June a Citadines in central London and also our first Citadines franchise in Nantes.
In 2020, we will open our second Citadines franchise in Strasbourg.
In September this year, we are opening our first Citadines in New York on 5th Avenue following a rebranding.
2017 was the year of the opening of our first property in Africa.
In Europe, our development priorities are France (Paris and major cities), England, Ireland, Germany and the Netherlands. We exclusively target capital cities and large urban centres.
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