Thailand’s Serviced Apartment Sector Ticks Up In Pandemic
Despite the enormous downturn in Thailand’s hospitality sector, one accommodation segment that has seen evolving green shoots is serviced apartments.
Last week I attended the SEAHIS 2020 hospitality event in Bangkok and one of the leading sessions was on serviced apartments and led by Douglas Martell who is President & CEO of Onyx (SA brands include Shama and Shama Hub) and Brian Tan who is General Manager – Thailand of The Ascott Limited (SA brands include ASCOTT, Somerset, Citadines, QUEST, and LYF).
A number of other hotel group representatives were also in the discussion including ACCOR and others.
Some of the key points from the session were:
Unit preferences are strongly shifting to smaller units such as studios and one-bedrooms. Larger units such as two and three-bedrooms are shrinking in demand given the geographical shift of guests and budgetary concerns with fewer guests with families.
Kitchens and laundry appliances remain popular, though less equipment in smaller units are needed.
In Bangkok, Sathorn, Thonglor, and Langsuan areas are popular, with mid-Sukhumvit struggling given lack of leisure business.
Discounting is at lower levels than hotels, and while many hotels now offer long-stay rates, the space and amenities of SA’s are driving demand.
Staffing ratios mostly in the range of .30 per key, considerably lower than hotels.
Gross operating profit range in fifty percent range with some isolated top performers above sixty percent.
Typically, CAPEX is lower than hotels given guests feel units are more like homes so damage less.
As for urban profile remains intact, but the operators were split on resort appeal. Some said there is strong potential and others said they keep not competitive.
As for Airbnb impact, generally, the sentiment was it did not detract from the segment, and in fact, gentrified customers who in turn later became SA guests.
While the sector has been impacted by Thailand’s reopening for tourism, the main takeaway is that the segment was probably the most stable of all hotel classes currently and that given COVID-19’s importance on less-trafficked accommodation and space, that prospects were positive going forward.
It’s interesting to see a revitalization of the SA segment, given during the mass tourism surge the past few years the sector had to increasingly tap the leisure sector, but the pandemic has taken it back to its roots.