Long Stay Accommodation: Stability and Growth in Serviced Sectors

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The Insider @ Houst
Last updated on
February 14, 2024

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Long Stay Accommodation: Stability and Growth in Serviced Sectors

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In the evolving world of property rentals, long stay accommodation is carving out a significant niche within the serviced accommodation sector. Tailored for those seeking a homely feel with the luxury of hotel-like services, long stay accommodations cater to a diverse clientele, from business travellers embarking on extended assignments to families in transition between homes. Unlike traditional short-term rentals, these fully furnished, self-contained spaces offer the perfect blend of privacy, comfort, and convenience, often complete with separate living areas, bedrooms, kitchens, and the added perks of housekeeping and laundry services.

This burgeoning sector presents a golden opportunity for professional landlords, property owners, and realtors, offering the allure of higher rental yields and the flexibility of personal use when not rented out. The continuous upkeep ensures the property's value is maintained, while the short-term nature of stays offers better cash flow and reduced tenant-related risks compared to long-term rentals. Moreover, the UK's classification of serviced accommodation as furnished holiday lets (FHL) opens up tax advantages, further enhancing their attractiveness as an investment.

The expansion of this sector, despite the challenges posed by recent global events, underscores its resilience and the ongoing demand for such accommodations. With an increasing number of units opening up across the UK, it's clear that long stay accommodation is not just a temporary trend but a significant shift towards more flexible, comfortable, and convenient living options for tenants and a lucrative, manageable investment for those on the supply side.

Table of Contents

What is a long-stay accommodation?

Long-stay accommodation encompasses properties leased under fixed-term agreements, usually extending beyond 12 months. These arrangements create a stable and secure living environment for tenants, binding them to the terms of the lease, which includes a commitment to pay rent throughout the contract duration. Long-term leases not only offer a sense of permanency but can also be renewed, fostering a long-standing relationship between landlord and tenant. Some agreements may transition into rolling contracts, allowing tenants to remain in the property for several years, providing both parties are in agreement.

In contrast, short-term rentals are designed for temporary stays, typically lasting less than six months. These accommodations serve as an alternative to hotels, catering to tourists and business travellers seeking the convenience of a home with the flexibility of a short stay. Short-term rentals are often fully furnished, with utility costs included in the rent, making them an attractive option for those in need of temporary lodging. Unlike long-term leases, which may come unfurnished or part-furnished and usually require tenants to handle their utility bills, short-term rentals prioritise ease and convenience, highlighting the diverse needs serviced accommodation can meet within the housing market.

Benefits of Offering Long Stay Accommodation

Offering long-stay accommodation presents a win-win for both property owners and tenants. For landlords, it means a steady stream of income with the reliability of monthly rent payments. The simplicity of managing long-term leases, coupled with reduced turnover rates, translates into lower operational demands and costs. Furthermore, the necessity for furnishing can often be bypassed, allowing for additional savings. Property owners also have the latitude to request substantial security deposits, adding an extra layer of financial security. Utilising services like Airbnb management companies can further alleviate the burden of direct management, streamlining the process of securing long-term occupants and ensuring a more predictable income flow.

On the flip side, tenants reap considerable benefits from long-stay accommodations. Beyond the obvious cost savings when compared to hotel stays, serviced accommodations offer expansive living spaces that provide not just a place to sleep but a place to live. The autonomy of having an entire apartment or house creates a more private and homely environment. For those on welfare benefits, the integration of housing benefits can cover the entirety of rent, easing financial pressures. Temporary accommodations, while meant to be a short-term solution, often become a mid-to-long-term dwelling, offering a semblance of stability. Whether it's a shared house, a privately rented flat, or a property under a council or housing association, the sense of community and belonging is palpable.

Understanding the Regulations

Navigating the regulatory landscape for long-stay accommodation is crucial for both property owners and tenants. The UK's changing laws demand attention, especially for those investing in holiday lets. Key requirements include actively promoting the property for commercial holiday letting with the intent to profit, ensuring availability for at least 210 days per year, and adhering to specific occupancy limits to qualify for business rates. From April 2023, the criteria for defining a self-catering property for business rates purposes are set to change, tightening the requirements for property availability and actual letting days. Additionally, property owners must ensure their offerings are fully furnished and comply with insurance and health and safety regulations.

When it comes to temporary and supported accommodation, UK laws provide a framework for the duration of stays. Emergency housing, provided bythe council's homeless teams, is typically short-term, possibly extending to around two months while assessments for longer-term support are made. There’s no fixed time limit for councils to secure long-term housing for individuals, leading to varied lengths of stay in temporary accommodation—from a few weeks to several months or even years, especially for those requiring larger or adapted properties. Importantly, accommodation deemed unsuitable shouldn't be used for more than seven days, ensuring the well-being of those in need. Understanding these regulations is essential for managing expectations and ensuring compliance within the UK's accommodation sector.

Long-Stay Accommodations in London

London's demand for long-stay accommodation is robust, with the city boasting the highest occupancy rates across major European cities and ranking fourth in hotel room prices. Visitor nights in London are forecasted to surge from 138.5 million in 2015 to an impressive 196.4 million by 2041, underscoring the growing need for accommodation. However, the UK's hotel sector anticipates a slowdown in growth by 2024, impacting both London and regional markets equally. Despite some closures in the serviced apartment sector, with 2,300 units shutting permanently for a more secure private rental market, the introduction of 3,200 new units since 2020 — largely by Staycity Group, edyn Group, and Adagio aparthotels — signals a resilient expansion, accounting for nearly 60% of this fresh supply.

Focusing on London, areas like Brixton in the south offer a vibrant cultural scene, making it an attractive locale for long stays. Camden Town in the north, known for its eclectic energy and diverse inhabitants, along with Chelsea in the west, a hub of fashion and high-end living, are also top picks for long-term accommodations. Other sought-after neighborhoods include Shoreditch, West End, and Mayfair, which are celebrated for their unique character and convenience.

As for property types, London caters to a variety of long-term accommodation needs, from flats and studios to hostels and houses. Serviced apartments, offering fully furnished, self-contained living spaces, are particularly popular for those seeking amenities like separate bedrooms, bathrooms, kitchens, and living areas. Co-living spaces also present an appealing option, promoting communal living experiences. With a broad spectrum of properties listed on real estate platforms, ranging from budget-friendly to luxury offerings, London's long-stay accommodation market caters to diverse preferences and budgets, ensuring there's something for everyone in this bustling metropolis.

Operational Considerations for Long Stay Accommodation

Operating long-stay accommodations requires a meticulous approach, blending hospitality with the comforts of home to meet the unique needs of extended-stay guests. This involves not just maintaining the property to high standards but also providing a level of service that makes guests feel supported throughout their stay. From the seamless operation of the front desk to the discreet efficiency of housekeeping and maintenance teams, every aspect of hotel management plays a crucial role in ensuring guest satisfaction.

Key operational areas such as front office, housekeeping, maintenance, and food and beverage services must collaborate to offer a seamless guest experience from check-in to departure. This integrated approach ensures that guest requests are addressed promptly, enhancing their overall stay. Moreover, sales, marketing, and revenue management work in tandem to optimise occupancy rates and profitability, showcasing the importance of a cohesive operational strategy in the long-stay accommodation sector.

The advent of technology has revolutionised the management of long-stay accommodations, making operations smoother and more guest-centric. Property Management Systems (PMS) automate daily operations, from booking management to guest communication and housekeeping scheduling, streamlining processes and reducing manual errors. Channel Managers centralise bookings from various online channels, preventing overbooking and simplifying inventory management. Meanwhile, smart locks offer convenient, secure access to properties, enhancing guest experiences and operational efficiency alike.

Additionally, technology plays a pivotal role in revenue management, with sophisticated tools analysing market trends and adjusting prices in real time to maximise income. This dynamic pricing strategy, enabled by technology, helps property owners and managers respond quickly to changes in demand, securing optimal rates and occupancy levels.

In summary, the successful operation of long-stay accommodations hinges on a combination of effective management practices, attention to guest needs, and the strategic use of technology. By focusing on these key areas, property owners and managers can offer a compelling proposition to long-stay guests, ensuring their comfort and satisfaction while optimising the profitability of their serviced accommodation business.

Marketing Strategies for Long Stay Accommodation

Marketing long stay accommodations effectively requires a mix of traditional and digital strategies to reach potential clients where they're most engaged. Here’s how to make your long stay accommodations stand out in a competitive market:

Leveraging Booking Platforms and Channels

When it comes to long-stay accommodation, the strategic use of booking platforms and online travel agents (OTAs) can significantly amplify your property's visibility and attract a broad spectrum of guests. Here's how to optimise these digital avenues for maximum benefit:

  1. Embrace Booking Platforms: Booking.com and Airbnb stand at the forefront of accommodation search for many travellers, especially those seeking extended stays. These platforms specialise in showcasing a variety of long-stay options, often at competitive rates. By listing your property here, you not only gain access to a global audience but also benefit from the platforms' robust marketing and search engine presence. The key is to create detailed, appealing listings with high-quality photographs and clear descriptions of what guests can expect during their long stay. Highlight any unique selling points, such as proximity to business districts or co-working spaces, to appeal directly to your target market.
  2. Maximise Online Travel Agents (OTAs): Expedia Group, Agoda, and other OTAs are instrumental in expanding your reach beyond your immediate geographical area, connecting you with travellers from around the world. These platforms are particularly valued for their convenience and the trust they've built with consumers. To make the most of OTAs, ensure your listings are up-to-date, with accurate availability and pricing. The commission rates for using these services are often seen as a marketing cost, investing in your property's visibility and booking potential on a global scale.
  3. Channel Managers: Managing multiple listings across different platforms can be a complex and time-consuming process, especially when dealing with long-stay guests who expect consistency and reliability. Channel managers like TravelNest and Lodgify streamline this process by centralising your bookings, and syncing availability in real-time across all platforms. This not only minimises the risk of double bookings but also saves you significant time and effort in manual updates. Additionally, these tools often come with extra features such as performance analytics, allowing you to make informed decisions about pricing and marketing strategies.

By strategically utilising booking platforms, OTAs, and channel managers, you can significantly enhance your long-stay accommodation's market presence, making it easier for the right guests to find and book your property. This approach not only ensures a steady flow of guests but also positions your business effectively within the competitive serviced accommodation market.

Digital Marketing and Social Media Engagement

  1. Build an Engaging Website: Treat your website as your digital shop front. Ensure it’s inviting, and informative, and showcases your long-stay accommodations with high-quality images and virtual tours.
  2. Social Media Presence: Use platforms like Instagram and Facebook to share engaging content, from guest testimonials to behind-the-scenes looks at your accommodations. This builds brand awareness and keeps you in the conversation.
  3. Influencer Collaborations: Partner with travel influencers to showcase your accommodations. Their endorsements can significantly boost your property's visibility to their followers, who trust their recommendations.
  4. Special Offers and Discounts: Entice potential guests with exclusive packages or discounts for longer stays. This can be particularly appealing for remote workers or professionals on extended business trips looking for cost-effective solutions.
  5. SEO and Content Marketing: Implement search engine optimisation strategies to improve your website's visibility in search results. Regularly update your blog with useful content that answers potential guests' questions, establishing your brand as a trusted source of information.
  6. Guest Reviews and Testimonials: Encourage satisfied guests to leave reviews on your website and OTA listings. Positive reviews enhance your credibility and can be the deciding factor for potential guests comparing options.
  7. Professional Networks: Engage with professional networks on LinkedIn. Share content that resonates with business travellers and remote workers, highlighting the benefits of your long-stay accommodations for their specific needs.

By combining these strategies, you can attract a diverse range of long-stay guests, from business travellers to remote workers, ensuring a stable income stream and reducing turnover for your serviced accommodation business. Remember, the key to successful marketing is understanding your target audience and reaching them through the right channels with compelling, relevant messaging.

Future Trends in Long Stay Accommodation

The landscape of long stay accommodation is evolving rapidly, with a blend of current trends and future predictions shaping the sector. Here’s a closer look at what’s unfolding and how property owners can stay ahead:

Current Trends Making Waves:

  • Growth and Sustainability: The extended stay sector is not just growing; it's evolving with a focus on sustainability and community. Leading this charge are brands that merge thoughtful design with environmental consciousness, offering spaces that people not only want to stay in but are also proud to support.
  • Resilience and Investment: In 2021, the serviced apartment sector demonstrated remarkable resilience, boasting a Gross Operating Profit of £25.40 per available room, significantly outshining the broader UK hotel market. This resilience has attracted an influx of investment, underscoring the sector's robust track record and potential for future growth.
  • Pandemic Influence: The COVID-19 pandemic has not only heightened awareness of apartment-style living but has also underscored the value of the security and comfort offered by hotel-like amenities. This shift in consumer preference is steering the sector towards sustained growth, particularly in the realm of domestic tourism, as international travel uncertainties persist.

Peering into the Future:

  • Market Dynamics: While demand for UK hotel accommodation is predicted to plateau in 2024, the extended stay sector is expected to buck this trend, fueled by the rise of remote work and hybrid lifestyles. The sector's adaptability to changing work patterns positions it for continued expansion.
  • Personalisation and Sustainability: Looking ahead, the sector will likely be characterised by a push towards hyper-personalised guest experiences and sustainable travel options. Properties that can offer unique, eco-friendly experiences will stand out, drawing in guests who value both customisation and conservation.
  • Technological Evolution: As the sector grows, so too will the role of technology in enhancing guest experiences and operational efficiency. Property management systems are set to become even more sophisticated, providing seamless integration of services and personalisation at every touchpoint.

Adapting to the Future:

For property owners, staying relevant in this rapidly changing landscape means embracing innovation and sustainability. Here are a few strategies to consider:

  • Safety and Protocols: In the post-pandemic world, safety remains a top priority for guests. Implementing and clearly communicating robust safety protocols can reassure guests and differentiate your property.
  • Embrace Technology: Leveraging cutting-edge technology can streamline operations and create memorable guest experiences. From mobile check-ins to personalised room settings, technology can elevate your service offering.
  • Cater to Emerging Demographics: Younger travellers, in particular, are looking for accommodations that reflect their values and lifestyles. Offering flexible spaces that support remote work, social interaction, and wellness activities can attract this demographic.
  • Engage with Lenders: For those looking to refinance or expand, maintaining open lines of communication with lenders is crucial. Keeping them informed of your property's performance and future plans can facilitate smoother financial transactions.

In summary, the future of long-stay accommodation is bright, with ample opportunities for growth and innovation. By staying attuned to market trends and guest preferences, property owners can position their offerings to meet the evolving needs of tomorrow’s travellers.

Final Thoughts on Long-Stay Accommodations



Long-stay accommodation offers a promising avenue for growth within the serviced accommodation sector, combining the benefits of stability, convenience, and profitability for property owners. Through exploring the operational nuances, leveraging technology, and adopting strategic marketing approaches, property owners can tap into the evolving demands of tenants and adapt to current trends like remote work and personalised experiences. As we look to the future, embracing the changes and challenges within this dynamic sector will be key to capitalising on its potential. For professional landlords, property owners, and realtors, now is the time to explore the opportunities long-stay accommodation presents for sustainable business growth and enhanced guest satisfaction.

The Insider @ Houst

The Insider @ Houst

The Insider team at Houst is dedicated to providing up-to-date and relevant information on short-term rentals. If you have hosting inquiries, please write to us at expert@houst.com. For guest inquiries, reach out at guest@houst.com. We are here to help you navigate the world of short lets and look forward to assisting you with your needs.

The Insider @ Houst

The Insider @ Houst

The Insider team at Houst is dedicated to providing up-to-date and relevant information on short-term rentals. If you have hosting inquiries, please write to us at expert@houst.com. For guest inquiries, reach out at guest@houst.com. We are here to help you navigate the world of short lets and look forward to assisting you with your needs.

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David
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"I have a philosophy in life called keep it simple. I don't live to work, I work to live. This is the first time I've leased this property on Airbnb. A house allows me to have vision of all the revenue and all the expenses associated with the apartment. They work as a well-oiled machine. They strive very hard to keep both myself and the tenants happy."

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"Honestly, if I didn't have Houst, I don't think I'd have this house anymore. With Houst's help, I can focus on my busy life while they manage my Airbnb listing. Guests call this place the 'magic cottage', and Houst makes it possible to share its special charm without any stress."

David
Account Manager

"I have a philosophy in life called keep it simple. I don't live to work, I work to live. This is the first time I've leased this property on Airbnb. A house allows me to have vision of all the revenue and all the expenses associated with the apartment. They work as a well-oiled machine. They strive very hard to keep both myself and the tenants happy."

Jules
Sales Director

"Honestly, if I didn't have Houst, I don't think I'd have this house anymore. With Houst's help, I can focus on my busy life while they manage my Airbnb listing. Guests call this place the 'magic cottage', and Houst makes it possible to share its special charm without any stress."

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