Accommodation Advice Blog

Innovation is the key to staying ahead of the market

The serviced accommodation industry is still a fledgling one Especially in Belfast. You might not realise that AirBnB has only existed since 2008! It initially began as a way for homeowners to rent out their spare room for a few extra quid. Since then it’s been kind of ‘hijacked’ by people (like me) whose offer falls into the category of “entire place”.

This has led to an explosion in the number of serviced apartments and other serviced/ self-catering properties available in Belfast to rent on a short term basis. Some (like ours) occupy the top end of the market and can command the highest nightly rates due to our reviews and the standard of product/customer service we offer.

However, we still frequently get enquiries from corporate and business travellers who are coming to Belfast city to work or for longer periods of time and just don’t have the budget to stay in our top, city centre locations. It always irked me that I was turning these potential customers away even though they weren’t our target market at the time.

Recently however, that has changed with the introduction of our dedicated corporate accommodation portfolio. These “no frills” properties were a toe-dipping exercise and are proving unbelievably popular with our corporate clients. We have been able to branch out into different locations of the city that we never would have previously considered. The guests are generally not tourists so don’t need to be near any of the top attractions, shops or nightlife.

Off the back of this success, we are bringing yet another innovative product to the market for those who find a luxury city centre apartment is just out of financial reach. The official NITB (Northern Ireland Tourist Board) category is “Guest Accommodation”. Kind of half B&B, half Guesthouse, half hotel room… (3 halves ?)

What this actually translates to in practice are seven affordable luxury serviced rooms, all en suite, in a beautiful 100 year old, red brick house just off the Lisburn Road. Head over to Instagram to see the guided tour of the property (or building site). We’re still a few months away from welcoming our first guests! The house was previously a five bedroom house with three shared bathrooms (occupied by dirty, smelly students. YUCK!). Extensive building work is happening to create two extra bedrooms and install seven en suites.

I’m so excited to bring this property to the market. Each room will be decorated in the same quirky and unique way that I hope my brand has become synonymous with. Expect to see some bright colours here and there! As the work goes along, I will be documenting the process of the renovation and decoration through videos/photos and insta stories to chart the transformation. I think a lot of people just don’t realise how much work is involved in bringing a high end accommodation product to the market. It’s much more than a lick of paint and a trip to IKEA, thank you very much!

I want this property to dominate the “per room” space in the same way as our “entire place” properties do in theirs. These rooms will be the coolest rooms in the city and at a starting price of £50 per night will be among the cheapest.

Ironically, I’m trying to stay ahead of the game by going back to the original premise of AirBnB. The serviced apartment market is becoming flooded with AirBnB novices offering substandard products, charging naïve prices and hosting inappropriate guests who are angering and alienating the neighbours. They are damaging the reputation of the industry and making it more difficult for responsible operators like us to operate. As a serviced accommodation management company, Central Belfast Apartment properties stand out from rest in terms of customer satisfaction, best practices and quality. I think now is a good time to further differentiate ourselves from the masses by continuing to innovate and disrupt the ever more crowded marketplace.

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