Comparing Benefits and Differences Between Corporate Housing and Hotel Extended Stays
"I’ve never used corporate housing, so how is it different or better than a hotel or extended-stay hotel?"
In the corporate housing industry, we answer this question on a regular basis. So much so, that our answers have become memorized summaries recited over the phone or copy and pasted into emails. We decided it was time for us to answer this question at length, not only for our current and future clients and guests, but for ourselves as a great reminder of what truly sets us apart.
While it may seem corporate housing shares similarities with hotels, such as furnished rooms, available linens, cable television, and amenities that include swimming pools and fitness centers, the actual differences far exceed any such comparisons. The immediate differences are average length of stay, square footage of living space and variety of location, but there is so much more. Let’s start from the beginning and first answer the question, “Just what is corporate housing?”
The concept of corporate housing began in the 1960s, the brainchild of Howard Ruby, Founder of Oakwood Worldwide. What began as furnished housing for single adults moving to California, specifically space program engineers or those in the military, transitioned into the earliest semblance of corporate housing during the early 1970s. Businesses were attracted to the idea of fully furnished housing complete with housewares and housekeeping for their traveling executives, as well as interns. When corporations began requesting specific types of housing, Ruby and his associates began partnering with apartment communities to meet those specific location and housing needs. Thus, the birth of corporate housing as we know it, today.
Almost 50 years later, corporate housing has become a trusted partner for many corporations in need of relocating employees either for position relocation, training or other professional services. Referred to as temporary housing, serviced apartments and executive suites, the industry is also home to individuals and families moving to new cities or facing temporary relocation due to natural disaster or emergency. The entertainment, media and sports industries, as well as health and technology also utilize corporate housing.
Corporations and organizations have discovered that alleviating stress from employee relocation is conducive to the success of the organization. According to Kimberly Smith, author of a highly informative article on the value and economic impact of corporate housing, employers are able to “achieve their business goals by cultivating more engaged and focused employees.” Smooth transitions into relocations more like home result in higher productivity. So, what makes corporate housing more beneficial for employers and their employees? The list is long. Let’s start with location.
Location. Location. Location.
The vast majority of hotels and extended-stay hotels are located in high traffic areas near airports, central business districts or downtown. These areas can be noisy and limited in their proximity to restaurants, shopping, entertainment and schools, the latter being highly significant for relocating families. If you are relocating to a new city for thirty or more days, would you rather be surrounded by parking lots or overlook a greenbelt? Would you rather dodge cars and crowded sidewalks for your morning jog or enjoy a serene trail through a park?
Corporate housing furnished apartments are located in residential areas and quaint city neighborhoods, as well as revitalized and reenergized downtown districts. The variety of locations is high on the list of need for most relocating specialists and individuals, especially when relocating families. Schools and everyday conveniences are vital to maintain a sense of normalcy for employees and their children. An extended-stay hotel may be a proper fit for an individual, but it definitely does not provide the basic essentials for family life. Children need stability, especially in a relocation scenario. Corporate housing apartments are within established apartment communities with longtime residences, not transient guests, and provide a community aspect that is missing from hotel-life.
For some, being part of a community means experiencing what their temporary neighborhood has to offer. Access to dining, shopping, entertainment and recreation is key. Finding a means to unwind and relax after work makes for more constructive working hours. Dinner at a local eatery, a little shopping or browsing therapy, stopping at the corner bar for a glass of wine and live music, or renting a bicycle to ride through the neighborhood all provide invaluable benefits during a temporary stay. Residents should live and feel like a local.
Temporary Home is Where the Heart Is.
One of the greatest benefits of corporate housing is having room to move, relax and live. The average size of a hotel room is 287 square feet and a traditional extended-stay hotel is 365 square feet. Plus, your bedroom, dining and living space are all combined, leaving little room for movement. Corporate and temporary housing apartments offer an average of 750 square feet of living space. With bedrooms separate from living space, full-size kitchens, dining areas, washer and dryer, private patios or balconies, residents feel more at home. If work is a priority, many furnished apartments have built-in work spaces or access to business centers within the apartment housing community.
Corporate housing prides itself on being turnkey ready, allowing individuals and families to only worry about their own personal items when walking through the door. Staff ensure every detail is met prior to resident arrival, including setup of utilities, cable and Wi-Fi. Full-size kitchens require all the necessities to create home cooked meals, which is why everything is provided from the dishes, glasses, and cookware sets to the potholders, pizza cutters and cutting boards. Home away from home is not a cliché with corporate housing, it’s an industry standard.
Conveniences and Comforts.
The on-site amenities are where you’ll find a few similarities with a hotel stay, including swimming pools, fitness facilities, business centers and resident clubhouses. However, many corporate housing companies feature some of the most sought after apartment homes in their respective areas. A corporate stay can feel more like a vacation with resort-style salt-water pools, luxurious cabanas and rooftop lounges. No more heading to the workout room at dawn to secure one of five treadmills on-site. Large state-of-art fitness facilities with a variety of workout equipment and often overlooking city skylines or opening up to outdoor exercise areas are available with key properties.
Again, if you need to work from home or require a private space for a business meeting, corporate housing apartments offer individual work spaces and private conference rooms all equipped with Wi-Fi, computers and other media resources. As for mailings and packages, each community provides mailbox and package delivery so you’ll never miss an important document or special delivery from Amazon Prime.
When staying at a hotel, space is limited for guests, whether business or personal. If the ability to host guests is a priority, a majority of apartment properties comprise of resident clubhouses, lounges and community kitchens where residents are able to invite business partners, family or friends to gather. As for extended family, corporate housing is pet-friendly with housing communities that include dog parks and dog washes on-site. Each property has different pet restrictions and rules, but for the most part, your entire family is welcome during your stay.
Community and Customer Service.
Community is vital if an individual or family is to feel more like a resident and not a guest. Corporate housing associates tend to live in the communities of their properties, which means they are familiar with the immediate neighborhoods. A native to the area as a personal assistant provides a sense of security along with having the ultimate tour guide. Becoming part of the community is beneficial to the well-being of employees and their employers, as well as individuals and their families.
From the larger conglomerates and mid-sized mainstays to family-owned and up-and-coming companies, providing excellent customer service is the calling card of corporate housing. High touch relationships are essential and the building block for successful relocations. When moving to a strange city and temporary home, a human anchor is needed and appreciated, which is where the local staff of corporate housing come in – a friend in the community is the ultimate goal.
The Bottom Line.
The bottom line is the bottom line no matter if it belongs to you or your employer. The end goal for temporary housing is to meet budget expectations and save money in the long run. While a hotel may seem more cost-effective with its complimentary breakfast and happy hour, in reality many of these free services come with a cost. When a hotel promotes a continental breakfast available each morning, this doesn’t necessarily constitute as free. Hidden costs in the final rate often include such items, as well as some happy hour promos. Something else to consider is the limited menus of complimentary breakfast or happy hour. These unchanging items may grow stale during a lengthy stay.
According to consumer advocate, Ed Perkins, there are seven hidden hotel fees to be on the lookout, including resort fees, service or housekeeping, and parking. Some hotels may even charge for in-room use of Wi-Fi. These all add up. Corporate housing provides transparent all-inclusive rates and specifics on housing add-ons or additional costs. No hidden fees mean no surprises.
Other obvious means of keeping to a budget are the ability to cook and do laundry in the comfort of your apartment home. Full kitchens and cookware allow for the purchase of groceries and creating home-cooked meals instead of the added expense of eating out every meal. In-apartment washers and dryers are convenient, timely and avoid the cost of on-site coin-operated machines or local laundromats. The little things are not so little when it comes to saving money or maintaining personal comfort.
Change in Location Shouldn’t Mean a Change in Lifestyle.
The benefits of corporate housing are more than a list of amenities and perks. What it comes down to is lifestyle. Relocating either for work or personal reasons shouldn’t mean giving up your accustomed way of living. If anything, relocating should be a smooth lifestyle transition complete with day-to-day conveniences and a few added bonuses. That is what corporate housing strives to accomplish.
At the end of the day, corporate housing offers added value for both the employer and resident. By providing all-inclusive rates, a variety of locations and properties, high quality amenities and people-first service, an environment of work productivity and stress-free living is created and amplified. Instead of trying to imagine the differences between a hotel and corporate housing, imagine home cooked meals in your own kitchen, walking your dog in a nearby park, lounging by the pool or becoming part of a community. Your next relocation or temporary assignment shouldn’t mean a change in lifestyle, it should be an extension of the life you love to live.