Build to Rent owners and operators want to deliver high yields and returns for their investors. To do that both in the short term and long term, attracting the right tenants and building a community are critical success factors.
Many developments target professionals as a market who value the often high spec offers that build to rent properties offer. Targeting them with a brand or attracting them one by one through agents or lettings teams can be costly and deliver varied degrees of success.
So why don’t Build to Rent owners and operators have a clear strategy for targeting corporates to attract this audience and access lucrative contracts?
The simple answer is that if it were easy, everyone would have already cracked it. But there are new ways to reach this audience and the UKAA is leading the way in opening up this opportunity to its members by working together across the sector to access new channels to market that individual companies can’t reach.
How do Build to Rent operators historically target corporate lettings?
The reason this has been difficult in the past is that there is a complex network of routes to find corporate tenants. This includes trying to build relationships with individual companies in the local area, working with lettings agents who have certain corporate relationships and trying to navigate the opaque world of relocation companies.
The UKAA set up a working group to look at how the industry could better access this market and the conclusion was that there is no silver bullet. What did come out was the learning that it can be incredibly inefficient and that each company trying to access the market on its own has not delivered a replicable model that others can learn from and implement.
So, let us look at it from the other side. It is important to understand the requirements of companies when it comes to accommodating their staff so that we can better understand how to access this demand and meet their needs.
Companies want 3 things when they are seeking accommodation for their staff:
- Flexibility– they want to book for the time periods that suit them (often this might not be a standard AST)
- Depth of supply– they often have needs for 10, 20 or 30 apartments in one go and they want a single solution to meet their demands.
- Easy access– They want to be able to book the accommodation they need simply and quickly and through systems they already use.
When do they need accommodation?
- Project based accommodation– often consultancies, accountancy and finance companies and global tech companies move staff around for projects. These can be for 1-6 months and can often lead to longer periods or to relocation in some cases.
- Relocations– companies move people around the world for new assignments. When they move, they often stay in temporary accommodation while they look for their permanent home and need high quality apartments for their permanent residence in their new city.
- Business travel– in a post Covid world business travel is re-emerging, and people are often travelling less frequently but for longer stays. They are increasingly seeking flexible rentals in apartments to have a home from home experience when they travel.
Why would the Build to Rent sector want to offer more flexibility to gain access to corporate tenants?
It is simple. By attracting your target audience to stay in your development they will experience your buildings and your community, and two things happen- they might extend and become a tenant themselves, or when they love it themselves, they will tell their colleagues and HR teams about the development and other professionals will become tenants.
Attracting flexible corporate lettings therefore means driving better returns for your development in the short term and long term by delivering new tenants to your development who help build the community and deliver improved yields. And that is before we look at how accessing this market and offering flexible lettings can help to optimise occupancy and yields through the lifecycle of a development.
Why should the industry work together to access this opportunity?
If each company were to set up a team to try to execute this, the ROI is likely to be low and many companies that you might target simply won’t change their way of working to be able to rent apartments in a single development. But together, the industry can crack this opportunity and access channels to this market that have been off limits, until now. The industry now has its own platform to bring together the supply across developments and access this new market.
What is the UKAA’s platform to help member companies access this market?
TrustedStays is our industry platform, in collaboration with the Short Term Accommodation Association (STAA) to help you to access Corporate lets.
Innovation and change are key to the travel and rental industries. By bringing together Short Term Rental (STR) operators, the BTR sector and industry bodies such as the UKAA and STAA, TrustedStays can reach the corporate market in a way that has not been done before. Working together with our supply partners (BTR owners and operators and property management companies) across the UK, we have manged to gain access to corporate and government travel by meeting their high standards and accreditation requirements, and by providing a depth of supply under in one place.
TrustedStays is a website where corporates can register and request accommodation directly and it also connects into the Global Distribution System (GDS), a web of technologies that powers corporate and government requests from around the world. You can read more about what the GDS is and why this is an exciting opportunity here.
Through TrustedStays, corporates, SMEs and individual professionals can now access BTR operators’ properties directly and pay for everything through their own systems. This means employees don’t need to get permission and HR departments don’t need to provide special approval for them to stay in a development. By opening up these channels, UKAA members can reach new audiences and new demand.
How to get started?
- Register as a supply partner
- Onboard your property portfolio and optimise your properties
- Connect your availability via iCal or API
Get ready to receive corporate bookings!