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What is Service Accommodation?

Last updated on 24th April, 2024

Looking to maximise your potential rent on a property? Serviced accommodation is an increasingly popular option for landlords wanting to stand out in a competitive marketplace. But many people ask what is service accommodation?

Combining elements of hotels and concierge services with the freedom of self-catering, it’s fast becoming the go-to option for landlords and other rental companies. But whether you’re marketing to businesspeople or holidaymakers, there’s a lot of confusion about what serviced accommodation is and what it entails.

This guide will explore the ins and outs of this option for first-time and experienced renters. You’ll learn the upsides and downsides, some local legislation, and how to take your first steps into the market.

We cover:

  • What is Serviced Accommodation?
  • Factors to Consider with Serviced Accommodation
  • Pros and Cons of Serviced Accommodation
  • Understanding the ’90-Day Rule’
  • How to Get Started

What is Serviced Accommodation?

Somewhere between a hotel and a traditional holiday let, serviced accommodation balances the privacy and freedom of a self-catering house or apartment with the amenities, housekeeping, and additional services expected of a hotel.

That being said, serviced accommodation and holiday rentals aren’t exactly the same. While holiday lets are exclusively rented to holidaymakers for a weekend, week, or fortnight, serviced apartments are available for up to several months. As such, these properties cater to a broad range of guests.

What Services And Amenities Are Available?

Serviced properties also differ significantly in terms of the services available. As a minimum, renters can expect laundry and cleaning to be provided within the rental cost. Apartments or houses usually come with everything you’d expect from self-catering. A full kitchen, bedroom, bathroom, and living room (alongside Wi-Fi and utilities) are included as standard.

Some properties, particularly purpose-built apartment blocks, also include in-house gyms, restaurants, shops, and 24-hour concierge services. However, guests pay a premium for such services.

Factors to Consider with Serviced Accommodation

Renting a serviced property isn’t as simple as creating a listing and handing over the keys. You should consider several key factors, from guest types to length of stay. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Who is your target market? Are you aiming to accommodate business travellers, tourists, or families?
  • How long will the average renter stay? How often will you need to clean and change the linen?
  • What services will you provide? Will you provide concierge services?
  • What are the local regulations governing serviced accommodation?
  • Do you have a pricing strategy? How will you cover the higher operation costs?
  • Will you need to hire third-party vendors or keep all services in-house?
  • Do you need to update your insurance policy?
  • What platform will you market the property on? How will you attract guests?

Answering these questions is critical to a successful business – especially if you operate on platforms like Airbnb or booking.com.

Working with a third-party vendor can help scale out your services and get the additional help you need.

Pros and Cons of Serviced Accommodation

Why bother renting?

Serviced accommodation sees higher profits, fewer legal restrictions, and (for some) greater satisfaction.

But that’s only part of the story. Let’s explore the pros and cons of this option:

Pros of Serviced Properties

Higher Rental Income: Serviced accommodations typically command higher nightly rates compared to traditional rentals, leading to potentially higher overall income, especially in high-demand areas.

Flexibility in Use: Owners can use the property themselves when it’s not booked, providing a convenient option for personal or family use.

Market Appeal to a Broad Audience: These properties appeal to a wide range of guests, including business travellers, tourists, and families, increasing the potential market.

Shorter Vacancy Periods: Due to shorter stay durations, serviced accommodations often have more frequent bookings, reducing the likelihood of long vacancy periods.

Potential for Professional Management: Landlords can opt for professional management services to handle bookings, maintenance, and guest relations, making it a more passive investment.

Cons of Serviced Properties

Higher Operational Costs: Regular cleaning, maintenance, utility bills, and management fees can significantly increase the operational costs compared to traditional long-term rentals.

Regulatory Challenges: Local laws and regulations, like restrictions on the number of rental days per year, can be a significant hurdle and vary greatly by location.

Market Volatility: Demand for serviced accommodations can fluctuate more than traditional rentals, often influenced by seasonal trends, economic factors, and changes in travel patterns.

Understanding the ’90-Day Rule’

The sudden rise of serviced properties has threatened the availability of long-term rentals in some UK markets. Councils, in response, launched regulations preventing landlords from renting as a short-term let for more than 90 days in a calendar year – most notably, Greater London.

You will need planning permission to rent short-term for longer than this period – although such permission is rarely granted. Indeed, since 2017, Airbnb has automatically removed London listings once they read the 90-day limit.

How to Get Started

Launching a serviced accommodation business remains a lucrative venture. But you’ll want to complete a few key steps before you can get started.

Step 1. Market Research and Compliance. Begin by researching the demand and competition in your target location. Understand your potential market – business travellers, tourists, etc. Also, familiarise yourself with local regulations. Consider if it’s possible to make a profit in the short-term rental market and how to overcome any barriers to entry.

Step 2. Select a Property. Choose a property in a strategic location. Think of proximity to attractions or business districts (as well as transport links). If you’ve already got a property, your main focus is on furnishing and equipping it. Select your interior decorations based on your target market. Find sturdy, hard-wearing furniture that will remain in good condition after repeated usage.

Step 3. Management and Marketing. Decide on your management approach, whether self-managed or through a property management company. This includes handling bookings, maintenance, and guest interactions. Market your property on popular platforms and utilise dynamic pricing strategies to adjust for demand and maximise revenue.

Step 4. Guest Experience and Feedback. Establish a smooth check-in process, whether it’s self-check-in or in-person. Ensure your services are ready to go and test run any concierge services, e.g., making travel arrangements or managing a guest’s mail. After their stay, collect feedback to improve your service and accommodation quality continually.

Still interested in serviced accommodation? With the right dedication and high-quality services, it’s a highly successful direction for any property owner.

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