UPDATE 07 September 2023:
Astra Apartments won the “Excellence in Safety & Security” at the 2023 Altos in Singapore – a celebration that recognises excellence and innovation in the corporate accommodation industry in the Asia Pacific region. The award was for our unwavering commitment to ensuring guest safety through a multi-tiered security approach, personalised meet and greet, comprehensive apartment orientation, and 24/7 emergency support, setting a remarkable standard for safety in the extended-stay corporate accommodation industry. Much of which is covered in this blog post.
In recent years, technological advancements, automation and AI have transformed the way we travel. From online booking platforms to digital check-ins, we can now enjoy a contactless experience that can save time and make the whole travel process more efficient.
These advancements have also spilled into the non-traditional accommodation sector. Where providers of apartment-style accommodation have been quick to adopt the latest and greatest for a contactless guest experience.
Not surprisingly, this style of accommodation is increasingly being adopted by companies for long stays and corporate short-term rentals of a week or more. This makes sense, because travellers have more privacy, conveniences and space, creating a better overall assignee experience.
That’s because companies have a duty of care for their travelling employees. So although advancements have made many parts of business travel easier, they have also highlighted the critical role of ensuring on-the-ground support is accessible when things go wrong.
And things do go wrong. Being on the travel supplier side, we get to see what can (and does) occur when there is no human interaction.
The wandering arrival
Picture this. You (as the booker) have booked your staff member or client into an apartment in the city. They will arrive late at night, so you have sent the details telling them how to collect the keys from a drop box at the premises. As the booker, you have no way of knowing whether they arrived and have safely accessed the apartment, so you simply hope everything goes to plan.
But sometimes it doesn’t.
It is not uncommon for us to encounter people that are booked with other service providers wandering around apartment complexes late at night. Whilst their booker has provided them with details on how to collect keys from a drop box on the premises, they can’t get to it. They are pulling their luggage, (sometimes with a family in tow) trying to find how to get inside a secure building to access their keys. They’re typically exasperated, having spent the last 50 minutes trying to access the building and when they call the “Help Line” they merely get a voice message and are asked to leave a message.
The net result is that the person has had a frustrating experience before even stepping foot inside the apartment. In addition, the security risk from corporate travellers wandering around the outside of a building in an unfamiliar city is a risk that no employee should have to deal with.
The tech fail
Beyond dropbox key collection, technology has enabled the provision of electronic access codes for contactless entry. But what happens when the electronic access code you receive fails to open the door of your designated apartment? Worse yet, imagine it is 11:30 pm. You have been on an 18-hour flight from the United States and the emergency contact number you have been given is answered by voicemail.
This does occur.
The flooding apartment
It’s been a hectic day for your traveller and they are still up late working in the apartment. They decide to throw a load of washing on before they go to bed and then suddenly the hose becomes disconnected and water is going everywhere. They try to call the helpline but it is after hours so it goes straight to the message bank. This can lead to a frustrating and potentially unsafe experience, compromising their overall corporate traveller experience.
The balance between digital and human interaction
Whilst a digitally fluid experience is non-negotiable, it’s important to look for options that also include a human element. You need to consider how the corporate traveller can access support if they need it. Ideally, you want an accommodation partner you can rely on to be on the ground and available – so your time is not spent troubleshooting and supporting your distressed corporate traveller calls.
What to expect when booking an Astra Apartment
Astra Apartments primarily serve the corporate market, so we understand the importance of looking after travelling employees. Each territory is owner-operated, which enables us to offer a level of care and support that is often lacking in other travel options.
The personalised check-in
In two of the examples above, we highlighted some of the issues that can occur with arrivals when there is no human interaction. At Astra Apartments this situation does not occur. All travellers are personally met at the front of the building – irrespective of the time of day or night. It’s not uncommon for corporate travellers to be booked onto the last or first flights of the day – and they receive the same service as a traveller that arrives at a standard check-in time of 2pm.
We make sure that incoming corporates not only arrive safely at their destination but are quickly and efficiently shown to their apartment. The booker can also be notified of the safe arrival on request.
24/7 personalised support
Astra Apartment occupants are also provided with a local contact for 24/7 emergency support. From lock-outs to emergency issues within the apartment or building, the traveller has direct access so any issues will be managed promptly. In addition to ensuring their corporate travellers are looked after, owners have a vested interest in ensuring that their properties are well-maintained. It gives peace of mind that issues that arise are quickly and efficiently resolved.
A better corporate travel experience for all
Technological advancements have certainly made business travel more efficient. But the role of on-the-ground local support cannot be overstated in extended stay and corporate short term rentals. Sourcing options that include on-the-ground local support for your corporate travellers not only ensures that they have a positive and stress-free experience but also demonstrates a commitment to their well-being and safety. It is vital to remember that the people who represent your company are your most valuable assets. Ensuring their comfort and security is essential.