Lemon Locke, Aldgate London
Serviced apartments are expected to be less effected by the staffing crisis facing the UK hospitality industry, according to the findings of an operator survey, conducted by international real estate adviser Savills.
73.9% of serviced apartment respondents stated that they are expecting to experience a shortage in staff over the next 12-18 months. This is considerably lower than hotel operators, of which a 94.1% are expecting a shortage. In terms of the severity of staffing shortages, 17% of serviced apartment operators have had to reduce service levels to cope, compared to 47% across hotel operators.
Marie Hickey, Director in the Commercial Research team at Savills, said, “Serviced apartments have definitely not been immune to the issues surrounding staff availability however their leaner operating model does mean they have been relatively more insulated.
'Serviced apartments typically have lower staff headcount alongside a lower frequency of room servicing associated with their longer-stay guest profile. From a lender and investor perspective this does provide some comfort in terms of margin protection, particularly as staffing looks set to remain an issue for some time.”
This shortage is feeding through to average wages with operators stating that average wages have increased 10.3% compared to 2019 levels. The most acute upward pressure on average wages can be seen in the housekeeping department, with 68.2% of operators scoring the impact as either four or five on a scale of one (no impact) to five (significant increase), followed by reception (36.8%) and maintenance staff (36.4%).
When asked about measures that could ease staffing pressures going forward, relaxing cross-border restrictions was rated as having the most considerable benefit, with 63.6% of serviced apartment operators rating it four or five on a scale of one (no benefit) to five (considerable benefit). Other potentially beneficial measures include better marketing of careers in hospitality (47.6%) and increased in-house training (42.9%).
James Foice, CEO, Association of Serviced Apartment Providers, added, “Once again it is heartening to see the apartment sector being less adversely affected by current conditions than traditional hotels. The report shows that as an industry, we really do need to market the benefits of working in hospitality - transferable skills, the opportunity to travel, great training - as a true career choice rather than a stop-gap or part-time option.
'As the government brings together a Council to support the delivery of its Hospitality Strategy, we hope both the professional short-stay accommodation sector and hotels can play a part in ensuring these staffing challenges can become a thing of the past. This is our opportunity to redefine our industry as employers.”