“Submitted in part fulfilment of the degree of
Master of Science in Hospitality and Tourism Management”.
Academic year 2017 / 2018
“TITLE: The serviced apartments in Northern Greece”
NAME FirstnameMajor: LAINA SarraThesis Supervisor: MREJEN Marie Claire
Date of Submission:
Approximate number of words: 19,400
TOC o “1-3” h z u Abstract PAGEREF _Toc520050487 h 1Acknowledgements PAGEREF _Toc520050488 h 2Executive summary-Introduction PAGEREF _Toc520050489 h 3Overview-Serviced Apartments PAGEREF _Toc520050490 h 6Product characteristics PAGEREF _Toc520050491 h 6Amenities provided in the extended stay hotel properties PAGEREF _Toc520050492 h 7Size and Capacity PAGEREF _Toc520050493 h 8Different kind of styles and standards of the extended stay hotels PAGEREF _Toc520050494 h 9Public areas of an extended stay hotel and its services PAGEREF _Toc520050495 h 9Site essentials PAGEREF _Toc520050496 h 10European View about the extended stay hotel market PAGEREF _Toc520050497 h 11Expansion in Europe PAGEREF _Toc520050498 h 12Issues to develop this segment in Europe and the need to be clearer as a segment PAGEREF _Toc520050499 h 13Investment and financing PAGEREF _Toc520050500 h 14Demand PAGEREF _Toc520050501 h 17Type of guests staying in an extended stay hotel PAGEREF _Toc520050502 h 18Operational Characteristics and Investing PAGEREF _Toc520050503 h 19Extended stay hotel or serviced apartment vs. Hotel PAGEREF _Toc520050504 h 21Advantages of serviced apartment PAGEREF _Toc520050505 h 22Disadvantages of serviced apartments PAGEREF _Toc520050506 h 23Advantages of hotels which do not have a serviced apartment PAGEREF _Toc520050507 h 23Disadvantages of hotels (which are usually advantages in serviced apartments) PAGEREF _Toc520050508 h 24Tourism Industry and Hotel Market in Greece PAGEREF _Toc520050509 h 25Halkidiki area in Greece (Location of analysis) PAGEREF _Toc520050510 h 28Asprovalta-Vrasna area (Location of analysis) PAGEREF _Toc520050511 h 32Methodology PAGEREF _Toc520050512 h 34Analysis of results and Recommendations PAGEREF _Toc520050513 h 38Interpretation and analysis of the results PAGEREF _Toc520050514 h 38Discussion and recommendations based on the results PAGEREF _Toc520050515 h 46The conclusion PAGEREF _Toc520050516 h 50Reference List PAGEREF _Toc520050517 h 52
AbstractThe tourism and hospitality industry in Greece is playing an important role for the prosperity of the country. The accommodation sectors are the most profitable source and therefore the development and demand of supply need to be taken into consideration to attract more visitors from other countries. One accommodation sector which are the serviced apartments are especially demanded in some areas of northern Greece which in the last years it is becoming more and more famous. This capstone project analyzes the reasons of why this sector is getting more famous and more people are demanding for this kind of accommodation rather than to stay in a traditional hotel in these areas. Furthermore, the aim of this capstone project is to show due to the literature review and the interviews which have been conducted with people from the serviced apartment sector, to show reasons, why should the hotel industry and entrepreneurs in Greece focus in developing the sector of serviced apartments. The research found positive answers in both research questions and that in general there are growth opportunities for the serviced apartments in these particular areas in northern Greece (Halkidiki, Asprovalta and Vrasna area).
Keywords: Serviced apartments, extended stay, all-suite hotels, Tourism and hotel industry
AcknowledgementsThe topic of the capstone project was selected because of my interest of the serviced apartment sector and because in my opinion and from my experience of living in Greece I believe that the sector of Hotel Industry will bring more and more profits to the Greek economy since only this sector is the most profitable nowadays, while Greece is in an economic crisis.
Also, this topic motivates me because when I will go back to live in Greece, my brother and I will have to manage our family’s own serviced apartment property and so I want to find out and search more about this topic and sector of extended stay hotels.
Moreover, I would like to thank my supervisor for sharing her knowledge and time to encourage me to complete my capstone project.
Finally, I would like to thank my professors, my family and my friends for all the support they gave me during my research and studies in PSB.
Thessaloniki, July 2018
Executive summary-IntroductionAccommodation is playing an important role for tourists who visit different countries and regions because they all need a place to rest and relax and have entertainment and relaxing options while they are staying in a specific location either it is only for two nights or for one month or even more. All tourists are seeking and demanding for an accommodation which offers them a feeling home away from home and meet all their needs so that they can be fully satisfied. However, accommodation is playing an important role also for the economy of a country which is defined as a famous touristic place to visit or spend the summer holidays for domestic and international visitors.
The hotel and tourism industry in Greece is one or the best and maybe the one and only most important profitable source for the prosperity of the country. People in Greece try to make the most of the profits due to the tourism and hotel industry in the country even the young people are trying hard because they are interested to have chances of being employed in the hospitality sector in general, as it is one of the best fields to succeed in Greece.
According to the BMI Research, (2017, Greece Tourism Report, London) it is expected that the tourist arrivals will reach 38.6mn in year 2021 with an annual average growth of 9.3% between 2018 and 2021. This also shows that Greece is one of the most famous holiday summer destinations for tourists which keeps the demand of the hotel industry in a high level and has opportunities to grow more, as it can be seen from all the new properties which now are under construction. The largest part of the hospitality sector is still the properties and establishments of the independent owners. More and more people who are financially in a good condition in Greece usually want to invest in the tourism and hospitality sector as it is one of the most profitable and sure areas in Greece since this country is known as a touristic destination for summer holidays and its huge history and its archeological sites.
The current capstone project has as topic, The Serviced apartments in Northern Greece and tries to show one of the sectors in the Greek hospitality market which can be a booming sector nowadays and in future. The possible booming sector are the extended-stay or serviced apartments in Greece and specifically in northern part of Greece (Halkidiki, Asprovalata and Vrasna area) which is now getting more and more famous. The demand in these locations is increasing year by year and the capstone thesis will show the reasons why each year more people are seeking to stay in a serviced apartment rather than in a hotel.
The topic of the capstone project is raising a lot of questions but the primary research questions on this specific project are:
Why most of the tourists are starting to prefer more and more to stay in a serviced apartment in the northern part of Greece (Halkidiki, Asproavalta and Vrasna) for their summer holidays?
Why should the hotel industry and entrepreneurs in Greece focus in developing the sector of serviced apartments?
The main objective of this capstone project is to answer the primary research questions as mentioned above and to give more information about the sector of extended stay or serviced apartments. Also, the objective of the project is to give an overview of this sector in Europe for which articles like for example, in the Journal of Retail and Leisure Property in 2008 by Geieregger and Oehmichen helped the capstone research to show more about the sector related to the European overview of the serviced apartments.
It is difficult to define the sector of serviced apartments but in general it is possible to say that they are fully-furnished apartments for short or long-stay accommodation which offers the guest everything from kitchen, separate bedrooms to internet, laundry services etc. This sector is a good option for businessman and families or group of friends who want to stay in an apartment and feel more independent, have more convenience and privacy with all the amenities and all this in a better price in the end. In this capstone project it has been used interchangeably different words for the serviced apartments as for example extended stay hotels, aparthotels, all-suite hotels which do not have any distinction between them.
The capstone project is structured as follows:
First, the literature review or in other words the desk-based study is introducing the segment of the serviced apartments. It is presenting other studies and analysis from further previous works which are related to the concept of serviced apartments and helps to answer some of the questions of the capstone projects as for example the advantages of staying in a serviced apartment etc. Also, this chapter of literature review will show the European overview for this accommodation sector and will also present the locations of analysis (Halkidiki, Asprovalta and Vrasna).
Next comes the chapter of methodology, where the research problem and the main objectives of the research project are recalled. Moreover, the type and reasons of choosing the specific methodology are presented and justified, in order to answer the research questions.
After the Methodology chapter, comes the analysis and interpretation of the results which have been collected. Interpretation from the interviews which have been taken to collect information about the research topic. All the information has been collected from selected people who were interviewed and are also working in the sector of serviced apartments. This method is helping to provide some recommendations and discussions to answer the research questions and research objectives of the capstone project.
Finally, in the conclusion chapter it is a summary of the capstone project where the research problem and objectives, methodology and results are shortly recalled. Also, it introduces some suggestions for further possible research studies related to the same research topic.
Overview-Serviced ApartmentsProduct characteristicsExtended stay hotels or apartment hotels were first created in the 80’s in holiday destinations where families needed to have all the amenities which they have at their home, like a holiday home but with included services. Then these apartments were developed to complete homes giving their guests all the facilities which they have also in their own homes such as cleaning, washing, cooking facilities. In general, the idea of extended stay hotels was developed to attract mostly guests who want to stay for a longer time and to give them a quality service at a low price.
According to Mr. Murray Mackenzie and Benny Chan (2009), the rooms in a serviced apartment or also called extended stay hotel are larger and provide more amenities than the normal hotel rooms. Sometimes they have separate areas for working, sleeping or relaxing, for example, the living area can be seen separated from the bedroom but there are also aparthotels which have one big room and offers full kitchen facilities, shopping services, business services and limited housekeeping services.
These types of accommodation provide usually a ‘home away from home’ feeling, a more personalized service and bigger living spaces and they are targeting guests who are seeking to stay for a longer period in a hotel-like accommodation. Extended stay hotels determine their room rate based on the number of nights of the guest’s stay as long-term stay reduce the need of frequent room selling. They are used to offer discounts for extended stays which begin from five to seven days and they target business travelers, families or groups of friends who need a temporary housing. They provide kitchens which include often a sink, a big refrigerator, a microwave oven and a stovetop. It can also be seen that kitchens include also dishwashers and conventional ovens (Hotelplanner.com, 2018).
Tourists who are searching for an accommodation for a long stay period and simultaneously been offered economical lodging facilities and a high quality, they choose to stay in an extended stay hotel. Although this segment of hotels is not huge in the hotel industry, we can see that it becomes more and more popular nowadays especially for business travelers due to several attractive features they can be offered in a city/business stay or tourists who want to relax in their summer holidays next to the beach and have a perfect home away from home feeling which give more comfort than any other type of accommodation in a hotel (Hospitality Management – Free Waiter, Front Office,Housekeeping, Hotel job Training Tutorials, 2012).
Amenities provided in the extended stay hotel propertiesDishes and kitchenware
Housekeeping facilities when it is required
Shopping facilities (groceries)
Free use of hotel amenities (sometimes swimming pool, gym, spa etc.)
Dishwasher and conventional ovens (sometimes)
Standard extended stay hotels often in the city and business area are usually providing between 80 to 100 guest rooms which are equipped with bathroom amenities a fitted kitchenette and dining are including a sofa bed. Other extended stay hotel may offer also some working area with a desk and an office chair. Furthermore, you can find also smaller properties usually in summer holiday destinations next to the beach with 10-20 guest rooms which is also the case mostly in Greece in the last years which also can offer their own food and beverage outlets. Though many extended stay properties can offer complimentary breakfast but often guests must depend on the restaurants nearby too, (Hospitality Management – Free Waiter, Front Office,Housekeeping, Hotel job Training Tutorials, 2012)
Size and CapacityAccording to Geieregger, E. and Oehmichen, A. (2008), the size and capacity of the extended stay hotels can vary a lot and it depends from the location the property is situated in a resort or in an urban area, this will show the target market which the specific extended hotel is targeting. The location also may affect the setup and mix of rooms been offered from an extended hotel like studios, one-bedroom, two-bedroom apartments. This in its turn depend also from the guests’ need, if the guest wants to stay for a short period of time more often he prefers to stay in a studio, though longer-staying visitors and families will probably prefer (bigger) one-room or two-room apartments.
Based on HVS research you can see the Table 1 in the appendix which shows the Indicative unit size for extended stay hotels.
Different kind of styles and standards of the extended stay hotelsAccording to the article of Geieregger, E. and Oehmichen, A. (2008), extended stay hotel can be separated in 3 different types, in all-suite (long stay) hotel, serviced apartment, aparthotel. An all-suite hotel is an urban product which offers a high standard of accommodation with two or three bedrooms and service which can be like a hotel. A serviced apartment usually defines an urban product and it can vary from budget to deluxe. The level of service in this type of accommodation is often more limited than the services provided in an all-suite hotel. An aparthotel usually refers to a resort although it can be used to define an urban product too and in this accommodation the standard can vary from budget to deluxe.
So as a result, we can see from the article of Geieregger, E. and Oehmichen, A. (2008) that extended stay hotels vary a lot in style, they can be traditional or modern and can range between standard from basic/moderate to upscale and deluxe. Extended stay hotels do not have their standards which can create much confusion in defining what is exactly an extended stay hotel. Many extended stay hotels for showing their hotel rating often use the level and quality of their amenities which they offer to their guests.
Public areas of an extended stay hotel and its servicesAccording to the article of Geieregger, E. and Oehmichen, A. (2008), in the extended stay hotels or aparthotels in the city area or in urban locations, the public areas can often be seen with a small reception/lobby and a small lounge with a breakfast area and they can provide small meeting rooms. Regarding the services which are provided usually in the extended stay hotels are the cleaning service which is once or twice per week and if the guest prefers more cleaning day, that will be charged to an extra cost. Moreover, laundry services which can be seen in each of the apartments or in lower level extended stay hotels it can be seen as a shared facility. Also, reception is included in the services and sometimes breakfast in the breakfast room. There is usually no bar or restaurant but if there is then it is more likely to be operated from a third party. Extended stay hotels are more used to recommend to their guest a variety of partner restaurants and cafés near their property.
Site essentialsThe typical criteria which should be meet a potential extended stay hotel I a city/business stay according to the HVS research of Waldthausen and Oehmichen, 2013, is that they should include proximity to business demand generators such as corporate workplaces or business parks. Proximity also to airport with planned flights and accessibility to public transport and all kind of shops (cafés, restaurants, nightclubs etc.) Also parking facilities and road access should be included in the site prerequisites of an extended stay hotel.
According to Foxley (2001) he identifies also three trends that are thought to have a positive influence on the use of serviced apartments:
– an expansion of global corporates
– employment structure
– an increase in international conventions and meetings
Furthermore, according to a research from Geieregger & Oehmichen (2008) the typical sites which an extended stay hotel should include are for example, the proximity to airports, restaurants, shops, night clubs, road access, parking facilities etc.
European View about the extended stay hotel marketThe segment of extended stay hotels in Europe is still a segment which is not completely familiar to both hotel investors and visitors. Although, we can see it is growing in the last years more and more in many different tourist destinations and destinations were people are searching to relax and have a home away from home feeling.
This segment is getting very interesting and attractive for both investors and operators but also tourists and in general serviced apartments may have a competitive advantage over the conventional hotel segment in future. The basic target of the extended stay hotels is to accomplish successfully an accommodation between a short-term hotel stay and a long-term rental stay accommodation. According to Waldthausen, V. and Oehmichen, A. (2013), the key success of the extended stay hotel segment would be to generate a higher gross operating profit and net operating income than the average hotel. This can be achieved with the help of a lower guest turnover because in an extended stay hotel the stay of the guest is longer than the stay of a regular guest in a hotel. That means that the extended stay hotels have lower operational costs because they provide fewer and less frequent services than a for example big hotel chain like HolidayInn.
After the big economic crisis, travelers are searching for affordable and simple accommodations which doesn’t fit usually to rental prices in big cities for example, London, Paris etc. These cities, they often drive away the price-sensitive travelers and make them to search for cheaper accommodation outside the cities in the outskirts, (Waldthausen, V. and Oehmichen, A.2013).
Nowadays, many guests could easily give up space and pay less, which in other words, they search for cheaper and smaller apartments which still contain all the services and necessities and sometimes can create also an illusion of space with convenient smart facilities provided in the apartment like retractable beds, foldaway tables or designing a triple functionality room where a single room can be used as a living room, dining room, office and bedroom,
(Waldthausen, V. and Oehmichen, A.2013).
Examples of serviced apartments
Source: Waldthausen, V. and Oehmichen, A. (2013). Here To Stay – An Overview of the European Serviced Apartment Industry.
Expansion in EuropeOn the other hand, Waldthausen, V. and Oehmichen, A. (2013) are saying that we can see that the segment of extended stay hotels in Europe is not growing as fast as in the US where the city/business stay is growing more and more. In the USA the distance between different big cities is an issue for businessman for example to return home by flight and then the next day return to their workplace where they have a project. The distance for example, in the USA is much bigger from the East and the West Coast, approximately 4,900 km which compared to flying for example in Europe, from Berlin to London is only 1,000 km with a flight time of 1 and a half hours which can easily be done in one day.
So, it is more often the situation in Europe where businessman travel from project to project in different European cities in one day and can return also home in the end of the same day, which for businessman in the USA is unfeasible and difficult to return home as often. All this means that in the USA the businessman often chooses to stay in extended stay hotels when they have a project in another city far away from their home. This in its return makes the segment of the extended stay hotels in USA much more profitable and is growing much faster giving them the competitive advantage over the European properties where flexibility in travelling from one city to another is easier and increased due to the shorter distances, (Waldthausen, V. and Oehmichen, A. 2013).
However, in the last years it can be seen that in Europe the extended stay hotel segment is growing slowly not so much for business/city stay but more for holiday and relaxing stay. This segment is becoming increasingly more popular obtaining second homes or summer holiday homes abroad because of traveling more than once in some countries. A good example of extended stay hotel segment is Spain since it gains advantages of the Mediterranean Sea with its cultures and European ambience. Many operators of extended stay hotels in holiday destination being also more creative and constructing them in the way they will have more profit. For example, some operators add more common spaces in their properties with a communal dining area at the expense of the kitchens in the rooms which they advertise them as more affordable apartments. Also, the branded extended stay segment is growing each year for city or holiday stays and almost every established hotel brand or group has nowadays an extended stay property (Waldthausen, V. and Oehmichen, A. 2013).
According to Nicole Perreten, (2017) the pipeline of the serviced apartment remains in Western Europe as more and more brands are being attracted from the opportunities and profits of this segment. In many new markets and secondary cities there have been planned new projects for extended stay properties for city stays and the franchising system is helping the expansion of this segment. However, Nicole Perreten (2017) is mentioning that only the bigger companies have relied so far in this segment while many hotel brands manage their own or lease their properties. She is also referring to the transaction evidence of the extended stay segment which is limited and not so much transparent in terms of the sales price, but institutional investors enter this sector usually with brands who have a solid track record.
Issues to develop this segment in Europe and the need to be clearer as a segment
In Europe in general are existing many regulations, from planning and zoning to length of stay regulations. For example, in some cities it can be seen that serviced apartments are allowed only to rent their rooms for more than 30 days in order not to compete with the regular hotel segment. This means that it can be very difficult for the extended stay hotels to expand for example aparthotels, as they have usually an average length of stay of 3 to 5 days.
Furthermore, the serviced apartment segment competed with the residential sector as the residential units were much clearer for the stakeholders to invest and easier to be managed.
Also, many apartment owners are often renting their apartment in high demand periods which can be an invasion or also illegal of the planning regulations because an apartment which is registered for domestic use is prohibited to be let for less than 90 days which can be the situation of a short stay accommodation or hotel-like stay, (Waldthausen and Oehmichen, 2013).
Moreover, the extended stay hotel segment is still facing problems of clarification and understanding of their segment due to its new entry in the European hotel market and its fragmented nature. Many investors do not invest yet a lot in this segment because they are not completely sure and do not know what to expect from this new hotel segment. This blurriness and lack of knowledge and clarity is causing problems often to the guests of a serviced apartment because they expect similar services and level of services as in a hotel which is not usually the situation. (Waldthausen and Oehmichen, 2013).
Additionally, many guests who often choose extended stay hotels as for their accommodation they can see many differences between this segment even in the same branded extended stay segment, which can lead to disappointments because of the inconsistencies between the same product in different locations. Therefore, it is very important for this extended stay segment to be completely classified and create a more consistent and comparable product in order to have the opportunity to develop more in future, (Waldthausen and Oehmichen, 2013).
All this clarification according to Waldthausen and Oehmichen (2013) will educate the guests and help the stakeholders to understand and so on, to trust more this segment. It will also lead to more investments from lenders and developers and the operating performance can be compared more easily and the benefits will become clearer to everyone.
Investment and financingAfter the big global economic crisis, the economy was unstable and many industries where disturbed to their growth. In the past few years all the scheduled projects and developments slowed down and were interrupted many times because of the unsteady economic environment everywhere in every country globally. When the economy showed a bit of growth around 2010 to 2011 some of the investors targeted to invest more in the big cities like London but usually in these cases there was no debt finance accessible, (Waldthausen and Oehmichen, 2013).
In addition, as it has been explained below a big issue for developing this extended stay hotel sector is the unclarity of this sector. People of the financial and investment environment still do not understand fully this sector, therefore not to invest in this and so on no development will be created even an opportunity to grow does not exist due to this blurry definition of this extended stay segment. Many lenders and investors are afraid and uncertain to provide any debt to a sector that is unclear and new in the hotel industry which could be seen as a logical reaction. Also, there is a lack of certain and basic operating data which is usually good to be used for benchmarking the performance of this sector.
Also, banks are uncertain to invest in this kind of segment in the hotel industry and if they will decide finally to invest, according to Waldthausen and Oehmichen (2013), their decision are based on:
The management capability
The contracts and performance of the individual asset
According to Lumban Gaol, F., Filimonova, N. and Maslennikov, V. (2018) there is a model of aparthotels or serviced apartments which is showing the activity of the institutional or private investors. There is a difference between a traditional hotel and an aparthotel, the owner of the hotel is also the person or company who will manage the whole hotel. On the other side, in case of the aparthotels the private investors and the legal entities are both financing the construction costs. In case if the company will construct an ordinary hotel then it must also finance the costs of the building at its own expense or funds which it had borrowed. The apart hotel has a different kind of investing method where the developer is selling rooms from the apart hotel to individual investors or companies and in this way he (the developer) is attracting a part of the financing at the expense of the funds of the investor and not of the expenses of the funds he borrowed. The developer keeps usually the 50% of the management of the rooms and the 50% he is selling it to the private investors or companies who want to invest in his property. Also, the developer is making the decisions about the zoning and room equipment of the aparthotel property, he organizes all kind of services like room, laundry, reception, food etc. services. On the side of the investor, he is just receiving a room of the aparthotel which is already prepared from the developer and is not required to invest more money in it and then he is able to rent it by placing his own advertisement in websites like booking.com, expedia.com etc. The investor can also have the option of assigning the responsibility of the room he bought from the developer to a management company who will manage the renting strategies of the room. The management company is then operating the rooms for the investors and tries to lease them without the need to inform each time the investor, which is providing them also in this way a passive monthly income.
Moreover, Lumban Gaol, F., Filimonova, N. and Maslennikov, V. (2018) are saying that usually the investors of the aparthotels become owners of rooms in similar hotels. The investors who are investing in the aparthotel can use the rooms for personal use or use it as an office, they can rent on their own the purchased rooms or sign a management contract with a management company who is specialized in renting the rooms to people and taking care of all possible issues.
Also, in their opinion (Lumban Gaol, F., Filimonova, N. and Maslennikov, V., 2018) extended stay hotel sector does not possess a brand power which in the case of hotels it plays an important role for securing a debt and gives a more convincing aspect for a deal to take place more easily. So again, due to the lack of understanding there is a dearth of institutional investments.
On the other hand, there are some lenders and investors who are interested in the low operational cost structure in the extended stay hotel sector and the existence of potential to gain a large profit margin. In countries like UK, Germany and France according to Waldthausen and Oehmichen (2013), it is more often seen that extended stay owners and operators are interested to invest and expand because these countries are more mature than others which does not mean that in other countries does not exist an opportunity of growth for this segment which will be analyzed later for the country of Greece. This sector will boom if it will be fully understood from everyone and it will be an interesting investment in many touristic countries.
Overall, the extended stay hotel segment has a great potential to grow more in the future after it will be fully understood. Despite all the challenges it is facing to establish successfully in Europe, the serviced apartment sector has a small growth which also can show a growing demand for this product. Furthermore, year by year people are travelling more to different countries in the world mostly because of their work and that means that they would prefer to stay in a serviced apartment and businessman who will be relocated for a little time period into another city for a project they would definitely choose as their accommodation option for their business stay an extended stay hotel. Thus, in future more and more businessman would change their accommodation option from a traditional hotel to a serviced apartment in the city. Also, the current undersupply of extended stay hotels in the European market show that there is space to develop and invest in this sector and that there is waiting an exciting future for the extended stay sector in the hotel industry in Europe for city stay or holiday stays, (Waldthausen and Oehmichen , 2013).
DemandHotel demand and specifically for extended stay hotels is according to Geieregger ; Oehmichen, (2008) divided into business and leisure and can be divided further by length of stay as for example one week, seven to 31 days or more than 31 days. For the country of Greece, we are going to consider later a short to medium stay of 7 and more days.
The business demand, for example, businessman, performing artists, sports teams etc. choose to stay in an extended stay hotel when they are obliged to work for a period away from their home for projects, as serviced apartments offer many facilities to its guests like more living space or work space and they also can have meetings in the serviced apartments.
The leisure demand is usually coming from people who want to take an extended break from their everyday routine back home and stay in a home away from home. Moreover, leisure demand is also including families or group of friends who want to spend their holidays in a place where many facilities as in their home been offered and in a good price and they are also the typical target in the market of extended stay hotels. This type of demand is mostly linked to the summer holiday season, when most people travel and want to relax.
This what plays an important role in the end, is the location in which the extended stay hotel is located which will define the target market of the specific hotel. The location and target market of the specific property is also affecting what kind of apartment types it should include such as studios or one/two-bedroom apartments. Geieregger and Oehmichen (2008) are suggesting that visitors who will stay for a short period will prefer to stay in a studio and visitors who want to stay for a longer period will prefer to stay in a one or two-bedroom apartment.
Gokovali et al. (2007) is arguing that usually the demand for tourism is seen as a something luxurious which satisfy the more than the basic needs of the tourists, so the increase in per capita income results in an increase also in the tourism demand. In other words, people who have a high income they usually stay longer, the length of stay is linked with the household income of the tourists.
The factors that can affect and encourage to develop the extended stay segment are varying. For example, the income and its general growth is playing an important role basically and then also the duration of leisure time of people to have the opportunity to stay for longer holiday period. Furthermore, the border controls are not so strict anymore in other words the people can more easily move from country to country and travel. Another factor is also, the efficient and cheap options of transportation people travel with.
Type of guests staying in an extended stay hotelThe extended stay hotels depending on their location, they target different kind of guests, so each property can have different target groups. It is possible to separate the target market in leisure and business groups of guests as it has been mentioned and analyzed in the Demand chapter below.
Firstly, also from earlier years guests who prefer to stay in an extended stay hotel for their holiday vacation are mostly elderly people such as pensioners who does not want to travel from city to city but wants to stay in a place with everything offered and many facilities like in their home and relax in a location with summer atmosphere as for example in Greece or Spain. The elderly tourists are one of the key target markets for the extended stay hotel segment located in holiday destinations and not in a city. The reasons they prefer to stay in these types of accommodation are, for example their steady incomes they get from their pension funds provided from the government, their career responsibilities do not exist anymore, and their family care-taking responsibilities are more limited. So, they have also more time to spend for their holidays which means they will stay more than 4 days and usually prefer so on an accommodation like a serviced apartment which seems like their home, (Skift.com, 2014).
According to Byrne, E. (2017) in the city centers usually one of the target markets of the extended stay hotel segment are the business travelers. Businessman for example have to stay for a longer period in a different country in order to accomplish one of their projects and so on they prefer to stay in a serviced apartment rather to stay in a hotel were the price in the end will be much more than in a serviced apartment. The business travelers have many reasons why they prefer the serviced apartment as an accommodation option because for example, they have more privacy and the opportunity to invite other for a business meeting in the dining room. Also, discounts are often offered for longer stays, Wi-Fi is usually free of charge, and the access to a kitchen saves time and money from dining in a restaurant every evening.
The extended stay segment located in countries where you supposed to spend summer holidays are targeting families with two or three children and must keep to a specific holiday budget. They usually prefer to stay in a two-bedroom apartment instead in booking two rooms in a full-serviced hotel where they will pay more due to the breakfast and other services such as cleaning service every day. A serviced apartment provides to the family peace of mind because it is functioning like a home away from home where the parents can look after their children in an own private place while other guests can do their own thing. Families can feel more secured with usually a 24h security like in a private home and serviced apartments offer more space for the luggage, toys etc. Furthermore, families can save a lot of money in a serviced apartment because they have a kitchen where they can cook and so they do not need to spend every day money in restaurants or for breakfast.
In the recent years, it can be also seen that more and more young people prefer to stay with their friends in an aparthotel or serviced apartment in holiday locations. Young people travel in countries where there are places which provide everything which they are interested usually in the summer, from beaches to nightlife and sea sports clubs. A group of friends for example, would prefer more to stay in an accommodation where they can live all together cook and have a lot of facilities, as for example in a two-bedroom apartment which is not possible in a traditional hotel where they must book more rooms and pay more for longer stays and other possible breakfast and cleaning services costs.
Operational Characteristics and InvestingGeieregger and Oehmichen (2008) show in their research that in general the extended stay hotel sector has a lower operating risk and a reduced sensitivity to financial downturns. Also, it is not easily being affected from external factors and it usually has a more secure and balanced cash flow over the holding time frame compared to full service or luxury hotel sectors. On the other hand, the luxury and full-service hotel sector have a lower obsolescence and exit risk than the extended stay hotel sector. The risk of development is also lower than the full-service hotel because extended stay hotel properties have the benefits that in case they will not be filled each time from guests and cannot gain profit anymore, they can easily be converted in residential apartments that can be sold individually (Geieregger ; Oehmichen, 2008).
According to the costs, the extended stay hotel sector has the advantage of low construction cost compared to a full-service hotel. In Europe the construction costs and land costs vary widely from country to country. The construction cost is lower because there is usually no need to build food and beverages departments and as many as in full service hotels public areas. Also, Geieregger and Oehmichen (2008) has shown that construction costs for extended stay hotels on average are between 10 and 15 percent reduction per room. A big part of the savings in the extended stay segment is due to lower FF ; E costs (furniture, fixtures and equipment). Although in the beginning of the construction of a serviced apartment for example there are extra costs for kitchen and living space, but on the other hand there is no need to construct public areas (i.e. restaurant, professional kitchens, meeting space) and this is what reduces the total FF ; E cost per room, according to Geieregger and Oehmichen (2008).
Depending on the market, hotels can have a slightly lower daily price rates than extended stay hotels, but it seems logical because for example, an all-suite hotel is offering more facilities and more comfort due to larger living spaces to their guests. However, the daily price rate of an extended stay hotel is based on the length of stay and it can easily offer discounts to their guests depending on the length of stay. Furthermore, extended stay hotels have the advantage that they have a lower guest turnover and lower risk in failing to sell a room.
Concerning the revenues, the most important revenue source for an extended stay hotel is of course the room revenue because they usually do not have any revenues from other sources as for example restaurants, meeting and banqueting space etc. However, another revenue source could be the guest laundry revenue or the telephone or sometimes also food stores and bars. But these kinds of revenues are minimal if someone would compare with the profit from the room revenue.
Regarding the operating expenses of an extended stay hotel compared to a full-service hotel is much lower. An extended stay hotel does not need as much staff as a full-service hotel need in each of its department. Furthermore, the extended stay hotel has lower costs in food and beverage services because they usually have self-catering or very limited number of food and beverage outlets. In addition, reception front-desk staff is of course lower than in a full-service hotel because the extended stay hotel has fewer check-ins and check-outs. The housekeeping staff is also limited in an extended stay hotel because it is dependent or on extra costs. Geieregger and Oehmichen (2008) note that a typical 100 key extended stay hotel would have about 15 to 20 of staff compared to at least double that number in a full-service hotel in the midscale level.
Furthermore, according to Geieregger ; Oehmichen (2008) the occupancy in the extended stay segment is highly influenced by the same supply and demand factors that also affect the traditional hotel segment. Usually the extended stay segment has an occupancy rate higher than the traditional hotel segment because guest stay for a longer average period which means they are not affected from weekday-weekend seasonality.
Finally, Younes, E. and Kett, R. (2007) are saying that regarding the profit margin is higher for the extended stay hotel segment because they have usually lower operating expenses than a full-service hotel. Two graphs in the appendix section are showing the different kind of investment risk according to Younes, E. and Kett, R. (2007).
Extended stay hotel or serviced apartment vs. HotelWhich are the differences between a traditional hotel and an extended stay hotel? Why does a guest choose to stay in an extended stay hotel instead in a traditional hotel?
People who are travelling in a group with their friends or families or colleagues, booking hotel rooms as their accommodation is not the perfect option. Serviced apartments are becoming more popular for these kind of tourist groups who are looking for a nice place to stay without paying for the full hotel rates. On the other hand, serviced apartments do not suit to everyone, for example, people who travel alone for 1-2 days to take place in a convention is a better option for them to stay in a conventional hotel. In other words, there are some advantages and disadvantages in staying in a serviced apartment and in general obvious differences compared to traditional hotels, (Q Apartments, 2017)Advantages of serviced apartmentPrice- Compared to traditional hotels, the serviced apartments are considerably cheaper on a per night charge. People can have more reasonable accommodation deals that fit better their pocket and budget they have available to spend. The rates usually are charged per serviced apartment and not per guest which is a great deal and economical choice when going on holidays in a group. Also, the beneficial rates are mostly available for longer stays so guests can gain a great value for money. Moreover, guest who stay for a period more than 15 days for example, can have a discount and easily negotiate to become a very good rate on the price per night, (Q Apartments, 2017).
Space- The serviced apartment can also be called as a fully-functional apartment which separates bedrooms and living room, bathroom, kitchen, sometimes balconies etc., (Q Apartments, 2017). It offers to its guest extra spaciousness that they could not have in a traditional hotel and allows families and groups to stay in the same space all together which also save them a lot of money.
Amenities- Staying in a serviced apartment guests can have a big number of amenities which they could not have in a traditional hotel and make the guest feel like home. The best example is the kitchen which gives the guest the opportunity to save money by not going to dine each day in a restaurant. Guests can buy what they want from the supermarket and cook the meal they prefer in the kitchen of their serviced apartment. They can also save money by having breakfast and in general having night in with home-made cooked meals. Other facilities guests can find is the free of charge unlimited Wi-Fi, laundry facilities, toiletry items etc. So, it can be seen that serviced apartments are offering different elements to suit the living standard of their guest back at their home, (Meriton Suites, 2016).Privacy- Guests staying in a serviced apartment do not need to stay in the queue in front of the reception desk or having breakfast at the buffet full of other guests. The apartment gives the opportunity to the guest to have more privacy in their own space although they can also invite others if they want to, (Theasap.org.uk.2018).
Customized experience- Guests can have always a customized service when they choose to stay in a serviced apartment which cannot be accomplished by a standard hotel room. Tourists can call ahead the serviced apartment and request for some services for example to have a secured parking lot or some favorite snacks already stored in the kitchen, (Meriton Suites, 2016).
Disadvantages of serviced apartmentsEven though the apartments are called “serviced” it is not always the case in having a 24h service. This is depending on the service provider and in which kind of property guests are staying, because in some serviced apartments there is not a 24h working reception desk open and in other occasions there can be provided to the guests a centralized number which is situated in a different location, (Globalbankingandfinance.com. 2014).Moreover, there is no everyday cleaning service in the serviced apartment and guests may need to clean by themselves their whole apartment. The cleaning service in a serviced apartment is usually provided once or twice in the week so it may be often the case of a lack of cleanliness in the apartments, (Globalbankingandfinance.com. 2014).Also, the serviced apartment may offer the feeling being at home but on the other hand they do not provide all the little luxuries like for example a restaurant, a spa, tennis courts or a bar where you can meet friends or colleagues, (Practically Perfect PA., 2011).
Advantages of hotels which do not have a serviced apartmentSome people do not feel having the necessity of staying in a bigger room if they stay for a short period of time and they prefer to have everything taken care of for them so staying in a hotel room is more suitable for these guests.
Hotels also ensure their guests that their rooms will be cleaned every day when they are not inside offering fresh towels making up the beds, the room vacuumed etc. So, for people who see cleanliness as a priority they should choose to stay in a hotel where there is a daily housekeeping and guests can easily request for any extra towels or toiletries they need at all hours, (Globalbankingandfinance.com. 2014).
Another advantage of a good hotel is that they provide typically such as gym, spas, dining rooms, bars etc, (Globalbankingandfinance.com. 2014).One of the biggest advantages of the hotels is also the 24-hour reception and concierge who do not only give the guests advices on what activities they can do in the area they are located but also can make reservations for their guests in a restaurant, event etc., (FOODICLES, 2018).
Finally, hotels often have layers of security to protect their guests which is not always the case in the serviced apartments where sometimes there are no door persons to protect the building, (FOODICLES, 2018).
Disadvantages of hotels (which are usually advantages in serviced apartments)
According to Sofizade, D. (2018), there are some popular peeves which families, businessman and in general hotel guests have against the traditional hotels. Firstly, in hotels there is usually not a perfect Wi-Fi connection and it is not always free of charge. Also, the power sockets are lacking in many hotels and there is always a difficulty to reach the existing one, which is a negative point nowadays where all people have phones and laptops to charge up. In hotels, it is often the occasion for guest having small bedrooms and tiny bathrooms which is not the case in the serviced apartment where guests have for example a separate bedroom. Moreover, negotiating the rates as in the serviced apartments is possible in the hotels too but in the end, they are likely to still charge full price for certain nights.
Sometimes it is also the case according to Sofizade, D. (2018), that hotels have room service delays. Guests are for example hungry and just want to eat something quickly and the hotel service do not have the dish the guest want and on top they must wait a long time until the food will arrive in their room. This is not the case in the serviced apartment where guest can have the freedom to eat what he wants when he wants and cook in the fully equipped kitchen in his apartment. In addition, ordering from the hotel service or going out for a meal in a restaurant everyday will add more expenses to the guest, which in a serviced apartment is not the situation because of the kitchen which is a great money-saver.
Also, Sofizade, D. (2018) is saying that, the mini-bar which is provided in the most hotels does look attractive in the beginning but then the guest ends up paying a lot for the different snacks and beverages which are the way more expensive as in the supermarket in the neighborhood from where usually guests from the serviced apartments gets their groceries and store them in their big fridges.
Finally, Sofizade, D. (2018) is showing that there are often hotels where the guest must pay fees for a parking lot. Guests end up paying a lot for parking fees either in the hotel car park or in a public car park in case the hotel which is in big and crowded cities do not offer any parking facility. This is a disadvantage which do not exist in a serviced apartment where there is a standard to offer to the guests a dedicated parking space that will not cost them anything.
Tourism Industry and Hotel Market in GreeceGreece continues to be a famous tourist destination in Western Europe and is also perceived as one of the most safer destinations if we compare with other well known for summer holiday destinations such as Egypt and Turkey. The number of visitors is expected to grow steadily which will be supported with an expansion of the Greek hotel market and an amount of domestic and international transport connections. Therefore, Greece will have many developments and is an attractive option for the investors to invest, though there are many risks according the country’s economic troubles such as economic crisis or the regularly onerous bureaucracy and migrant crisis which could prohibit some visitors. (BMI Research, 2017).
The Greek tourism industry is very strong and well developed and although it is behind other markets such as world-leading countries such as France or Italy, the number of the annual tourists who travel to Greece has been increasing over the last few years and is also expected in future to record more healthy and powerful growth. Greece is well known for its attractions, being home to many historical and cultural sites, cities and a big number of picturesque beaches, coastal areas and of course islands. The Greek market is vigorously dependent on the local travel, with neighboring and close-by European countries making up more than seventy five percent of the inbound market as the BMI research shows us in its Greece Tourism Report, 2017.
Greece expects total tourist arrivals to reach 38.6mn by 2021, following average annual growth of 9.3% between 2018 and 2021 (BMI Research, 2017). So, on the one side Greece’s tourism market is well developed but on the other side there are several potential drawback dangers. Conceivable dangers incorporate a financial change in one or huge numbers of the key source markets for Greece. Any downturn for the euro would significantly affect entries to Greece since such many these business sectors are inside the eurozone. A further monetary(euro) decrease in Greece, where the nation’s financial recuperation stays dubious, could likewise effect on the tourism business. Furthermore, there are risks of terrorist attacks within Greece or its neighbor countries which could also affect negative consequences on the positive forecast. Moreover, Greece is being affected over the last years from the migrant crisis. The problems which were caused due to this migrant crisis were huge on the Greek tourism industry. If we take a good example of the islands Kos and Lesbos, the visitors due to the negative images of the media or the implementation of border restrictions (the Greek border with Bulgaria) could cause delays and prohibit visitors to choose Greece as their holiday destination, (BMI Research, 2017).
The Greek government is trying to strengthen the Greek tourism growth and support it because tourism is the biggest and most speculative source for Greece and its economy. Government tries to support the tourism sector by investing more and more in improving the accommodations and different transportations. Furthermore, in the last years we can see that government tries to reach more foreign tourists by creating cultural festivals linked to the Greek traditions its music and history. Also, government is supporting the big marketing campaigns because it is the biggest link to the tourists and of course very important to gain year by year more tourists in Greece, (BMI Research, 2017).Although, the big governmental support, Greece was obliged to find a way to improve tourism-related incomes which could have a negative effect, as for example the taxes were increased from the previously low 17% to 24%VAT which is a big difference and caused many negative consequences in many Greek tourist areas. Furthermore, there are many measures and financial reforms in the public sector which leads to restriction in spending the capacity too, (BMI Research, 2017).
Even though there are so many governmental restrictions which can cause delays in developing a business in the Greek tourism sector, year by year Greece is attracting new developers due to its increase of visitors. Visitors from all around the world and domestic visitors are present in different accommodations sectors and all the budget sectors are already well settled, (BMI Research, 2017).
That means that there will be a rise and a big demand in investing in new and higher quality accommodation sectors. Also, there will be an expansion of tourism in the undeveloped regions of Greece where a scope will be created for new investments and developments. Furthermore, BMI research,2017, in Greece Tourism Report found out that hotel numbers are expected to increase from around 10,650 in 2017 to over 15,480 in 2021, though there has been noted that many projects have been slow to break ground and ongoing political and economic uncertainty in the country could cause further delays.
Mylonas and Tzakou-Lambropoulou, are showing in their Survey of Greek SMEs- Accommodation Sector, 2017, that tourists coming from abroad to Greece has increased to 65% between the period 2010-2016 with around 25 million in the year 2016. Also, they say, that with 60% of these arrivals increased the demand of hotels and other accommodation options. Also, they show that the total occupancy at Greek hotels increased by 19% in the years 2010-2016. A graph in the Appendix shows the foreign tourists arrivals in Greece.
According to BMI research (2017), in its Greece Tourism Report, the length of stay is stable and will remain around 8.2 until the end of our forecast period in 2021, which shows that many tourists who choose Greece for their summer holiday destination are staying usually between one or two weeks. The Greek market is expected to rise its average occupancy as the expected rise in visitor numbers outpaces new hotel openings.
Halkidiki area in Greece (Location of analysis)Boussia, N. and Papadimitriou, P. (2017) are talking about Halkidiki which is a Greek prefecture located in the North of Greece in the south eastern side of Central Macedonia which includes a large peninsula in the north western side of the Aegean Sea. Halkidiki is located close to the 2nd biggest city in Greece, Thessaloniki, and it looks like three “fingers” of a hand, Kassandra is the first then comes Sithonia and then Agion Oros which contains the Mountain Agion Oros and all its monasteries.
The first peninsula called Kassandra is usually the most populated of the three peninsulas because of its crystal-clear waters, its vibrant nightlife and many bars and restaurants arrayed along the coastline and villages. Also, it hosts every summer two major festival called “Sani” and “Siviris”. Kassandra is mostly famous to tourists who want to stay in an organized resort and swim in an organized beach with also a lot of beach bars and nightlife places, (Halkidiki.com, 2018).
The second peninsula called Sithonia, does not include as many resorts as in Kassandra peninsula but has more isolated coves and rougher exciting nature landscapes. Sithonia is more popular to nature lovers and tourists who are seeking for more quiet and peaceful holidays away from the trappings of civilization. It also includes picturesque little harbors, isolated beaches of all sizes surrounded by trees and bushes and between them many camping areas are hiding so Sithonia is also attracting many campers, (Halkidiki.com, 2018).
The third peninsula called Agion Oros or Mount Athos, is an isolated monastic community and it is so inhabited only by monks. The entrance is only allowed to men always after a special permission, (Halkidiki.com, 2018).
Halkidiki has been one of the most popular tourist destinations since late 1950s when people from Thessaloniki went to the closest beaches which were located in Halkidiki to spend their summer holidays there. Also, many tourists have captured this region of Halkidiki including many European tourists but also many tourists coming from countries close to the northern borders of Greece that can access easily Halkidiki by car, (Boussia, N. and Papadimitriou, P. 2017).
Thus, Halkidiki has an easy accessibility for different types of transport to tourist coming from different countries close or far from Greece.
By air of course, transportation to all areas of Halkidiki is provided from the 3nd largest airport in Greece, Thessaloniki International Airport which is also the main airport of Northern Greece which serves the city of Thessaloniki and its surrounding areas as for example Halkidiki which is only 60-120 minutes away from the airport by car. Thessaloniki International Airport connects many cities and has many airlines but the most of them operate on a seasonal basis which also does not allow the annual operation or tourism related business, (Boussia, N. and Papadimitriou, P. (2017).According to Boussia, N. and Papadimitriou, P. (2017) out of the 25.1 million international arrivals in 2016, approximately 8.5 million tourists arrived by car and so it can be seen how important it is for the Greek tourism the road arrivals since one of the three visitors enters the country by car. Through Egnatia Odos, which is connecting the westernmost edge of Greece to its easternmost borders with Turkey and leads to the roads to Halkidiki. A huge number of tourists coming from domestic Greek areas reach Halkidiki by car. However not only domestic toursits are reaching Halkidiki by car but also tourists coming from all the major Balkan cities which are also nowadays the major source markets of incoming tourism, are reaching Halkidiki by car because it is in a close distance to them.
Furthermore, Halkidiki is also obviously accessible by sea and usually from the port of Thessaloniki. Every day there are coming and leaving different ferries to or from the Sporades Islands, the Cyclades Islands, to North Aegean (Limnos, Lesvos, Chios), several Dodecanese islands and to mainland ports such as Volos and Piraeus, Athens as well as Heraklion in Crete. In addition, Halkidiki can be accessible to some isolated and upscale properties which are provided by private marinas located in different areas in Halkidiki. Also, Nana Boussia and Pavlos Papadimitriou have found out that in short-term future waterways may will be constructed to some ports to support seaplanes which will promote new destinations while distributing the gains to nearby island networks and markets, (Boussia, N. and Papadimitriou, P. 2017).
On the other hand, Halkidiki is strongly depending on seasonality which means it is attracting tourists only from May to September and there is also a low number of tourist arrivals in April and October. This shows that Greece is still not able to construct tourist related infrastructure in order to attract winter or off-peak tourism as for example, high level spas, huge size conference centers, golf courses etc. So Halkidiki has this negative point that it cannot attract tourism all year round, (Boussia, N. and Papadimitriou, P. 2017).Regarding the hotel market in Halkidiki, according to Boussia, N. and Papadimitriou, P. (2017) there is no international hotel brand present in the market. The hotel market in Halkidiki is consisted from Greek companies which are using local brands. Even large resorts which could have the opportunity to be affiliated with a famous international brand are operated from Greek companies.
Furthermore, related to the hotel accommodation in Halkidiki it consists hotels apartments, studios and villas that it is possible to be booked directly with the owner of the property. Usually the owner of the different types of accommodation in Halkidiki are families which means the most accommodation properties in Halkidiki are independent. Year by year more and more properties, like apartments or studios are being built in Halkidiki that are equipped with a kitchenette and other facilities because people understand slowly the affordability and profitability of this serviced apartment segment, which I am going to analyze and show later the advantages of the extended stay or serviced apartments in Halkidiki, in northern Greece. Also, villas which can host larger groups of families are a growing market lately in Halkidiki which can be from budget to luxury level, (Sithoniagreece.com,2018).
In general, Halkidiki as it has been mentioned above and according to Boussia, N. and Papadimitriou, P. (2017), is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Greece and it has a healthy growth rate year by year mostly from neighboring countries and also Russia in these years. Also, there is each year an increase of investments in Halkidiki area because it is considered as a very promising location for investing and each year more investors are interested in investing in already existing properties or in the development of new ones.
Halkidiki.com. (2018). Holidays in Halkidiki, Greece. online Available at: http://www.halkidiki.com/english/index.htm
Boussia, N. and Papadimitriou, P. (2017). In Focus: Halkidiki, Greece. online Hvs.com. Available at: https://www.hvs.com/article/7961-in-focus-halkidiki-greece
Asprovalta-Vrasna area (Location of analysis)Asprovalta and Vrasna area is located in the North of Greece in the south eastern side of Central Macedonia and beside the Aegean Sea. This area is nowadays a major tourist resort on the famous in Greece Strymonikos Gulf which host thousands of tourists year by year. It is located right in the boundaries of the three prefectures of Halkidiki as they had been mentioned before (Kassandra, Sithonia, Agion Oros) and between Thessaloniki and Kavala, (Asrpovalta Nea Vrasa Association, 2016).
According to Asrpovalta Nea Vrasa Association, (2016) the access to Asprovalta and Vrasna area is very easy and the same as for the accessibility to Halkidiki through Thessaloniki International airport for tourist coming from other European cities. For the tourist coming from the neighboring countries it can be easily accessed by car via other Greek cities as Serres, Drama and Kavala. Moreover, the positive advantage of Asprovalta and Vrasna area is that it is located between two big Greek cities Thessaloniki and Kavala and each of them have an airport. Recently, there have been added more routes from airlines which are flying also to Kavala which was not the case before a couple of years. So, there are tourist arrivals coming from 2 different airports which is a huge advantage for this touristic area next to the sea.
Moreover, concerning the hotel accommodation in Asprovalta and Vrasna area it is mostly consisted from little traditional hotels and year by year many properties are used or built as serviced apartments which are operated from independent owners. Every year new properties are built in these area or already existing properties are being renovated with garden and different facilities for the tourists in a peaceful and guest-friendly neighborhood in Greece. Asprovalta and Vrasna area is offering a diversity of accommodation from studios, apartments with one or two bedrooms to larger suites and villas. Tourists can have an easy access to both beaches from every direction and both of them are preferred from families and group of friends as a choice for their summer holidays where they can easily relax and also have fun, (Asrpovalta Nea Vrasa Association 2016).
Asprovalta and Vrasna area is now getting more famous and with its 11km sandy beach it has been awarded with a blue Flag which is given only to top quality beaches in the European Union. In general, Asprovalta and Vrasna are no more than 10 minutes away by walk from any accommodation and in both resort areas tourist can find a huge market which is comprised from many shops, restaurants, bars, health centers etc. It offers many different types of tourism like for example short trips to archeological site of Amphipolis or daytrips to Thessaloniki and Kavala. The market which means this area is interesting in investing more in the hotel sector because the number of tourist arrivals year by year are increasing, (Asrpovalta Nea Vrasa Association, 2016).
Hotel-strimoniko.gr. (2013). map. online Available at: http://www.hotel-strimoniko.gr/5.map.html
MethodologyTo achieve the aims of this research a qualitative approach was chosen which were the interviews, in order to obtain data related to the research topic of the capstone project. The main data technique which is used in this research are the semi-structured interviews which were an important valuable source of information related to the specific capstone topic. The method of semi-structured interviews gives the researcher the freedom to interpret the answers of the interviewees and stay simultaneously subjective about the research topic. Then the data which will be collected in this research will be interpreted, analyzed and with the help of them the researcher will try to give her recommendations about her research topic.
The objective to use this qualitative method for my research topic was to uncover and collect opinions from professionals in the sector of hospitality and specifically the serviced apartment sector and understand fully this sector and its importance in the hotel industry in Greece now and for the future. The semi-structured interviews helped to find out more about the background of the serviced apartment sector in Greece. The advantage also in choosing this kind of research method is that it gives the opportunity to the researcher to collect more detailed information about the research question she must answer and later give recommendations.
The interviewees were chosen basically because of the great link they have to the research topic and research questions, so that it will make possible to analyze their answers and help to show that serviced apartment is a sector that has to grow more in Greece. Furthermore, they were chosen for their relation in this sector of serviced apartments and their years of experience in the hotel industry abroad and in Greece.
All the interviews were conducted in Greek language and of course for the purpose of the capstone project they were translated by the researcher herself into English language. These semi-structured interviews were conducted on a personal level, in other words, in a face-to-face basis and were led by a list of some questions of the researcher based to the research topic. The face-to-face interviews gave the researcher the opportunity to ask more than the basic questions on her list. The direct personally interviews made it possible to ask more lengthy and complexed different questions about the research topic. Also, some of the semi-structured interviews were conducted by phone calls which also is allowing a personal contact to the interviewee and where the questions had to be shorter and simpler and based on the list with not so much freedom of asking more questions because by phone calls there is always a time pressure when the researcher catch them while they are working especially on the peak summer time in Greece.
The list of questions was made based on the research questions and topic of the capstone in order to collect useful data to analyze afterwards to create the recommendations. This question list guided the researcher and helped to have an order in the mind of having a logically flowing conversation with the professionals where each question is leading to the other and everything is related to the research objectives. Moreover, this list helped the researcher to follow a specific qualitative approach that tries to understand fully the opinions, the experience and knowledge etc. of the interviewees. The question list functioned like a research tool to collect useful and related to the topic, information. Moreover, in asking the same questions to all interviewees can make the analysis and comparison easier later in the analysis of the results of the interviews.
Also, the questions which were asked the interviewees were carefully chosen in order not to offend or intimidate the interviewees and which will give them the opportunity to give information without being influenced of the research topic and statement the researcher wants to have in the end. Moreover, the questions are in a way asked without bringing the interviewee in an uncomfortable situation but showing how interesting and important the sector of serviced apartment is for the researcher and in general for the hotel industry in Greece.
The method of semi-structured interviews helps the research topic which is the segment of serviced apartments, to find information from professionals. Professionals were asked about their knowledge and opinions of the serviced apartment segment to get facts and to see what each of the professionals are thinking of this sector in the Greek hotel industry. The researcher having structured the conversation with the help of the question list is able to have the control of the interview in avoiding speaking about topics which are not related to the research topic. Then while having the interview there were written down some notes in Greek language to keep the information from the interviewees and then try to interpret of what has been answered from the persons who were interviewed. Finally, in a critical basis the reliability and the level of validity were tested of what the interviewees answered.
The procedure of the interview was firstly to open the conversation by making the interviewee believe that it is a pleasure than an ordeal to collect information which will be very useful for the researcher. Then the researcher made a little presentation about her research topic and research questions to the interviewee. In general, it was important to ask questions from the question list one-by-one at a time trying and to have a neutral position in the conversation and encourage and lead the interviewees to respond as much information as they can give. Depending of the time they have for the interview after asking these basic questions of the list it was possible to ask further questions about the topic which would help to collect even more information for the research topic.
Due to the interviews the researcher can be surer about her data collection because she collected all the data in a face-to-face interaction. The results can be concerned as more true and reliable in a natural and real way of collecting the data through the semi-structured interviews.
The interviewees were located in the both areas of analysis which are the Halkidki area and the Asporvalta and Vrasna area in Greece. The most of them used to work in the hotel industry, others on the other hand used to be businessman in a company and have decided to switch in the hotel industry especially in the serviced apartment which is possible to be a booming sector in these years in Greece. Some of them are now operators of their own serviced apartment property in these locations of analysis and they are thinking of constructing even more properties of this apartment type in these areas. They all answered the questions the researcher asked them and depending if it was a phone interview or a face-to-face interview the researcher could collect more information by asking more complex questions.
The location of the face-to-face interviews were located in the serviced apartment property of the interviewees because it is the peak tourism season (July-August) in Greece for tourist arrivals and the operators could not leave their work at this time period. The interviews which were taking place in the serviced apartment properties helped the researcher also to observe the location and the serviced apartment properties which she is analyzing. The location of the interviews gave also the opportunity to ask also some questions to the personnel and guests of the serviced apartments in the areas which she is analyzing the specific hotel segment of serviced apartment.
Moreover, a little part of the research is based to a secondary data which were collected as in the literature review through existing sources from the internet to support the analysis. For example, reports, articles, news, annual reports etc. The secondary data is helping the researcher to carry out more research information which a time-saving method is and more exact in case of databases which is not possible from the researcher to collect on her own.
Analysis of results and RecommendationsInterpretation and analysis of the resultsThe first interviews took place firstly in Halkidki and then in Asprovalta and Vrasna area with operators of serviced apartments and villas. They all seemed satisfied with their businesses in this sector of serviced apartment but also very busy since the interviews were made in the most peak summer season in Greece which is between June and August.
They all expressed a positive opinion about the sector of serviced apartments which in my opinion seemed logical since they all have chosen to work in this sector. One of them has a lot of work in constructing a new property from scratch, which he will use it and manage it as a serviced apartment later because he sees a lot of potential in this sector and he sees already many advantages in general in this concept of serviced apartments.
The locations of all properties of the operators were maximum 10-15 minutes away from the beach, which also shows that it is a typical summer area for tourists who choose Greece for their holiday destination. That means that in these locations there was no guest coming for a business purpose and stay in a serviced apartment next to the beach. All the tourists who came in these properties were seeking summer holidays in one of the nicest places in Greece next to the beach.
According the guests who visited the properties in Halkidiki and the properties in Asprovalta and Vrasna locations were not so much different related to the countries from where they were coming from.
In Halkidiki the operators said that they had visitors from the Balkans (i.e. Bulgaria, Serbia, Slovenia, Croatia, Romania etc.) who came by car but also a lot of guests coming from Russia. In Halkidiki there were sometimes guests also coming from Italy, Germany, England and Spain but not as much as the Russians and Balkans. In their opinion, guests coming from Germany, England etc. they usually prefer to stay in hotels since they are coming with tour groups and in general they prefer to visit more the Greek islands. In other words, ‘independent’ tourist who travel alone with their families and friends and without a tour group have a higher possibility to stay longer and choose to stay in a serviced apartment or villa compared to tourists who travel with a tour group. In only this point hotels can be a competitor but in general the interviewed operators did not see hotels as a big danger for their business and did not consider them as a big competitor because they have different type of accommodation and so also different kind of guests. Moreover, in Halkidiki area the last few years are coming more and more tourists from Russia which choose mostly to stay in a serviced apartment or villa with their families. Russians prefer to stay for a long period with their families in a private property and rent a car to move in different parts in Halkidiki. One operator said there was a Russian family who stayed almost 2 months in one of his serviced villas and invited also Russian friends who also stayed in a different part of Halkidiki also in a serviced apartment. Usually Russians are seeking for more luxurious type of accommodation so in the opinion of the operators in Halkidiki it is better to have serviced apartment or villas in the best quality level with all kind of facilities and equipment and of course silence and a nice view on the sea. So, the most operators in Halkidiki target in first place to satisfy all the needs and preferences of the Russian guests because this target group is the biggest nowadays in Halkidiki which also brings a lot of profit in the Greek hotel industry.
In Asprovalta and Vrasna guests are coming mostly from Balkans such as Serbia, Romania, Slovenia, Bulgaria etc. but also a lot of Greek guests coming from cities like Drama or Serres. There are a few coming from countries like France Germany England etc. Also, Russian tourists which Halkidiki is a famous for them holiday destination and having in mind that Halkidiki has more luxurious properties, they are almost non-existent in Asprovalta and Vrasna area. Most of the guests are coming by their own car from the Balkans or domestic areas. Operators from Asprovalta and Vrasna said, that guests coming from the Balkans are coming with cars full of things also groceries which they bought much cheaper in their own countries and use them to cook in the apartment which they will stay for their summer holidays. This is saving them money to spend in going out in restaurants every day and it gives them the opportunity to bring everything personal that they need because of the freedom to come by their own car.
According to the length of stay of the guests are around the same in both areas of analysis. The guests who are coming of course in summer peak season are staying usually up to one week. There are also many guests who book an apartment or a whole villa for a month or even more than a month as has been said one occasion of a Russian family before who stayed 2 months in the property. There are few guests who would stay only 3-4 days and these guests are usually domestic guests coming from Greek cities which are near to these areas and have more flexibility to come and stay for few days compared to other guests who come all the way from Slovenia for example, who it is logical to stay up to one week minimum. In other words, the distance of the countries of the tourists coming abroad is an important point and has a positive outcome for the duration of their stay which is usually more than 5-7 nights and they prefer to stay in serviced apartments. Guests, who decide to stay in a serviced apartment in the opinion of the operators, it is usually because they want to save money in first place of going out each time to eat and pay for dishes for the whole family. Secondly it is because they have almost all the facilities as in their own home and can make laundry and cook for example each time their own meals. Also, they prefer more privacy which is being offered in the serviced apartment and they can spend better time with their friends and families.
In average the serviced apartments in these areas of analysis after collecting all the answers of the interviewees, they usually are fully booked from middle of June until end of August. The serviced apartments who offer more facilities in a good price are usually booked faster and considered as fully booked earlier than the properties who offer less facilities. The facilities being offered from the serviced apartment play an important role to the guests who will stay for a longer period because they want to have as many facilities as they can so that they will spend holidays without missing anything and feel like being in a home away from their home but next to the beach. According to the most preferred facilities of most guests there are several which are playing a role and depend in which property guest will choose to stay.
For example, many operators were the opinion that having a pool a communal for all apartments or private pool for each villa is very important for many guests like families or group of friends coming from abroad, even though the sea is next to them. Many operators who have already their own serviced apartment properties regret of not having a pool or others are building or thinking to construct a pool additional to their properties. Having a pool will attract more easily guests from abroad and it gives the opportunity also to ask for a higher price per stay in offering this additional facility to the guests. Guests coming from domestic areas on the other side do not see the pool as an important point to choose in which property they will stay. Moreover, the operators who have already a pool in their properties also have a bar next to the pool which is also a profit source for them because many people who are relaxing at the pool is often used to order something to drink or to eat and this bar is also working at the evening when the guests just want to have a relaxed drink without going out and searching for other locations.
Furthermore, another facility which is attracting lately the guests but not all properties of the interviewees offered, is the breakfast included in the price. However, most of the operators offered their guests in the price a breakfast buffet which in their opinion is attracting more easily the guests when it is also offered in the price without any extra cost for them. Also, asking the interviewees if ever a guest asked for a facility they do not offer there was nothing they did not offer except two times the first one when a guest asked if they have any fitness room or entertainment room but this facilities in the most opinions of the operators was not considered so important to attract guests since in Greece the summer temperatures are very high and most of the guest choose to swim in the sea or do water sports as a sport or entertainment option. Another time was this summer when a guest asked an operator if there is any television or option to watch the world cup at the bar of the pool which he did not offer. However, this gave the owner the idea of buying a television and placing it next to the pool for attracting more the guests to stay at his property to watch the football games and in this way order drinks and food which will make more profits to him in the end. Buying a television of course is not only for the world cup but also for other competitions in summer which many guests would like to watch also for future events like Euro Cup or Eurovision Song contest. Although in general, all the interviewees gave the advice to the researcher that even though offering as many extra services as you can provide it is very good, but it is important to be careful and to decide to add extra services which are really needed because each extra service is also simultaneously an additional financial cost in the end to build and maintain in future.
Other facilities which in the opinion of the operators were important to offer as a serviced apartment property is the full-equipped kitchen where it should consist a big fridge not a little fridge which usually have the hotels. A large fridge because many of the guests coming by car were bringing also a lot of their own groceries and meals for example for the whole week for not going always in the restaurant in which case a large fridge is also requested by many guests and they also ask for that before booking and checking in.
Of course, one of the most important nowadays in all kind of hotel accommodations is to offer a free Wi-Fi and a fast connection to the internet. One operator had a problem once for one whole week in the most peak summer month (August) in Greece, with his internet connection which was very slow and almost nonexistent, and which caused a lot of complaints from his guests and they made a lot of bad critics later, on his website. This means that a fast internet connection and offering free Wi-Fi to the guests is a must for not only the serviced apartment sector but also the hotel sector and all kind of accommodations in general.
Talking about internet, the researcher asked the interviewees, how most of the bookings are made from the guests, due to internet websites like Booking.com or by phone where people found out about them from word of mouth or due to their own website. According to the operators they all said that many of the bookings are made due to Booking.com which is not only a tool for them to be booked but also a tool to advertise themselves as it is known one of the best or better to say the best way for marketing and be known from the tourists abroad as they use this website as a search tool for their accommodation. Furthermore, another way of the serviced apartment to get to be known is the word of mouth and spontaneous coming guests from the domestic areas. So Greek guests usually have been recommended a serviced apartment from a friend who already visited the specific property and was satisfied and book by phone directly or they visit spontaneous the property to stay for some days. A few bookings are made due to their own website. All operators which were interviewed said that they always were trying to increase their bookings due to their own website by just informing their guests for the possible next time they will visit their property it would be better and cheaper to book due to their own website. The operators usually try to give a little extra to the guest who book directly from their own website, so they can feel special and create loyal guests. They sometimes set up rate rules so that the guests who booked directly from their own website or are loyal guests can receive a special offer or some sweets and a bottle of wine at their check-in day. In this way they can avoid the commission which is around the average of 15% and which is always requested from the travel agents such as Booking.com, and finally use this type of travel agent only for advertising and be known from new possible guests.
The serviced apartments or all-suite hotels of the interviewed operators had in average around 15-20 apartments which included studios, 1-bedroom apartment or 2-bedroom apartments. So, it can be seen that no huge properties are usually in Greece for serviced apartments and no brand is operating them but independent operators. They all are located near the beach and offer a lot of facilities. The most operators who are also the owners are working also in these properties and they make on their own all the managing for the bookings and recruiting and managing of the personnel which is possible to do in small properties such as 15-20 apartments. The most of them just have 2 cleaners who cleaned in average for a one week stay around 2 to 3 times in the week. Furthermore, they have the same cleaners working for the breakfast buffet for washing the dishes and preparing the buffet. Also, in their personnel they have another 2 people for 2 shifts for the bar at the pool and helping the owner and the cleaners when it is needed. About the maintenance when they have some problems they just have to call somebody to come and fix it without the need of hiring people for full time. In general, for the properties with around 15-20 apartments there is no need in hiring more than 4 to 5 people if the owner himself is doing the management and reservations of the serviced apartment property.
According to the seasonality or working and open periods of the serviced apartments of the interviewees they were in average all working only in summer periods which is usually from May to end of September. The months from October to April they usually are all closed because tourists do not choose these locations to visit and see attractions but to spend summer holidays and relax at the beach which is not possible in these months because of the weather condition which to do not attract anyone to relax at the beach. In these months also, many operators told the researcher that they try usually to find ways to attract more guests in the next summer period by finding better ways to advertise their properties. For example, two of the interviewees are going every year to hotel seminars and make connections with tour operators or just advertise to new countries their serviced apartments.
Also, depending to the profit they make each summer, they are doing all kind of upgrades and add as many facilities as their budget allow them to do. The peak summer periods are usually from middle of June to end of August when the serviced apartments are fully booked. The non-peak period, which is begin May to begin of June and begin September to end of October, usually the operators advertise and give discounts or special offers to attract in this way more guests to come and be fully booked also in non-peak periods. However, many operators gave the researcher the clue that it is very important to be sure that all the operating costs are fully covered when giving discounts to everyone because giving all the time discount and special deals can be very risky in the end which the researcher believes that some of the operators had already experienced this kind of problems and that is also the reason of giving her this important advice.
When the researcher asked about the opinion of the interviewees if they see any growth in the sector of the serviced apartment sector in the area they have their properties they had all a positive answer. Most of them told the researcher that, in the last few years the sector of extended stay hotels like all suite hotels or serviced apartments properties have become famous and clearer to the people in general. Now in their opinion it is the best and exciting time period to develop in this sector as this sector has just started to reach and attract not only guests but also people who want to start a business in the hospitality sector in northern Greece. Since the economic crisis these operators see as an only profit source the hospitality sector because Greece is known as a summer holiday destination and will always attract tourist who will bring also money to the country. Any other industry is not making as much profit as the tourism sector when talking about Greece and economic crisis. The serviced apartment sector is getting one of the most profitable hotel sector to operate in their opinion while there is a great opportunity to increase awareness with even more guests in future because there are already guests who are satisfied and well know this sector there still exist many people who do not have any idea of the benefits this sector is providing them. Since all people will understand fully this sector there will be surely an increase in demand which means also the need of increasing the supply.
Furthermore, the interviewees who are now constructing new properties to operate them later also as serviced apartment have the opinion that it is the best option to construct the building from scratch if there is of course the economic freedom and possibility from the side of the investor and owner himself. To construct the building from the beginning is one of the best options to start a business and have later a good profit but also needs a lot of work. The reason is in their opinion that, by constructing your own building the owner can have firstly the freedom to decide where to build the property and see the best preferences of the guests by visiting other similar properties. The owner can design the property and specifically the apartments in the way he wants, and thinks is the best for the guests to attract and satisfy the most. They said that, it is more expensive in the beginning but in the end, it gives you more profit because you decide everything about how the property should be by offering all the facilities from the beginning to the guests. Other operators who in past bought an already existing property had later on many expenses by adding new facilities and upgrading the property such as for example constructing a pool which cost a lot of money to reconstruct everything. So, some of the operators had this opinion but on the other side other operators who bought in past already existing properties they think that buying an already existing property in a great location with everything included is the best option for them but finding this property in the touristic areas you should have luck too.
Another topic which the researcher was able to talk with some of the interviewees was about how to advertise and market in the best way these kind of accommodation to the tourists and domestic guests. They said that, the most important part is to be placed as a serviced apartment hotel property on the internet whether it is on an own website or from an online travel agent like Booking.com were all interviewees had been advertising their apartments. Small properties like 15 apartments the owners tried to give a more personal message to their guests by adding some pictures for example of themselves (the owners) and personnel which it usually provides also an image of a more personal service and can attract more guests in this way. They include of course pictures and information of the properties and their views and facilities they offer. Also, they advertise their discounts and special offers due to the internet and give more information about the nearby locations and activities tourist can do while their accommodation. They suggested that placing advertisements in sites like Booking.com they are getting known from the guests from other countries and domestic guests. They also made clear to the researcher that one of the most important ways to advertise themselves is due to word of mouth which do not request any advertising cost, but you need to provide the perfect accommodation experience to the guest in order them to talk about your serviced apartment property to other friends and families who can be your future potential guests. Also satisfying the guests while their accommodation it will gain some loyal guests which also do not request any extra cost to the operator for advertising his property.
Another point which was also mentioned in some interviews is the different languages which would be useful to welcome the guests in a more personal level. In Halkidiki are for example, most of the visitors are coming from Russia and so it is very useful not only for the operator but also for the personnel to speak a level of Russian language. In area of Asprovalta and Vrasna on the other hand is more a mix of guests who come from different Balkan countries where for example, it would be good to know Rumanian or Bulgarian language. The interviewees pointed out that knowing foreign languages of most of the guests of your target group which are visiting your serviced apartment is one of the important points to deliver a more quality and personal service to their guests and make them feel like being in their home and in this way also create sometimes new loyal guests and more cash flow in the end.
All in all, the interviewees are all having a positive opinion in working in this type of hotel accommodation and they all believe in a big increase in future. They believe that the supply of the serviced apartments should increase more since many tourists visiting these areas prefer these types of accommodation the most and they are usually always fully booked. This sector will and should boom in their opinion because it will give much profit to the people who want to start their own business and work for their own independent property in the tourism industry. There are more positive things than negative in opening a serviced apartment property in these areas since tourism is nowadays the biggest source of money for Greece and tourists in their opinion will never stop to visit and choose Greece as their destination for their summer holidays.
Discussion and recommendations based on the resultsThe results of the research and interviews affirm the researcher questions regarding the reasons why tourists choose to stay in serviced apartments rather than in traditional hotels and why this sector in the hospitality should and will have an increase in its supply. After having researched and then interpreted and analyzed the interviews it is positive to recommend in a positive side that it is a good decision to start an own business by managing a serviced apartment property. Also, it has been positively described why tourists choose to stay in a serviced apartment and prefer this accommodation option the most in these locations of analysis in northern Greece where it will be also one of the best locations.
In general, the research data, and interview results together are helping to answer the main research questions. So, the key reasons why the tourists in these areas of Greece are choosing to stay in a serviced apartment when they visit for a long holiday stay are:
The home-like environment. Serviced apartments offer their guests the best long-stay experience and the feeling of home away from home due to many facilities and in general convenience they provide such as one of the most important facility is the full-equipped kitchen.
More space for a better price. The cost per guest is cheaper per apartment when they travel 3 to 6 people than staying in a hotel. They offer more space for the same or even lower cost when discount or special offers are included.
More flexibility. Serviced apartments give the guest the freedom to be more flexible in case of cancellations or early check ins or free parking and Wi-Fi etc.
Serviced apartment provides more privacy and independence to their guests due for example, the self-cater ability which in case of a family is the best option.
Of course, there are more reasons listed from the results why tourists, who visit Halkidiki and Aspr?valta and Vrasna locations prefer to stay in a serviced apartment, but these 4 reasons are in my opinion the most important ones. Also, the interview results have shown that the origin of the tourists is logically linked to the reason, why the demand of serviced apartments are growing year by year mostly in the northern mainland of Greece, because they come from the Balkans from where they can easily come by car for example and bring a lot of things from home. Most of the guests who come and stay in the serviced apartments in these areas are coming from the Balkans because it is for them the nearest places to have summer holidays at the beach, so the demand of accommodation is always increasing and so in the same way the demand for the serviced apartments is increasing too each year.
The increase of the demand for serviced apartments in these locations in Greece is also showing that starting a business in the hospitality sector and specifically in the segment of serviced apartments is the best option to gain a large profit compared to other segments or business sectors in Greece. This also had been confirmed from the interviewees who are working in this segment in these specific locations which were analyzed in this research. They all had a positive reaction in the questions if they see growth opportunity in the serviced apartments sector and if that is a good option to start a business in these locations.
The research has confirmed and convinced a fundamental potential in Halkidiki and Apsrovalta and Vrasna areas such as not only tourist demand but also to start a business or just work in this serviced apartment sector. It is highly recommended to start to work in this sector because there are many advantages people can have if they start their own serviced apartment property which were listed above in the interpretation of the interviews. As the concept of serviced apartments will be more aware and more clear and understandable to the guests then the demand will increase even more. An important part which was highlighted for having success in this sector if people decide to open an own serviced apartment property is the location where they will build the property. To secure the right location and to satisfy all the needs of the guests with all the facilities they need are the most important points to be successful in this segment. Talking about location it seemed that the interviewees who already work in this segment would be happy to have more apartments located in the right location to gain even more profit which also can show that this market has potential to be strong and grow more in future.
In general, both the research data, and interview results could help to find out that it is a good sector to develop and could give also some main recommendations how to be successful in the segment of serviced apartments. For example:
The facilities and services. Serviced apartments should attract the guests due to their facilities they offer like for example due to a fully-equipped kitchen. A breakfast buffet included in the price or a having a communal pool and a bar can also be services which attract the most the guests and can gain a great amount of profit. Due to these services and facilities which cannot offer a traditional hotel, serviced apartments can accomplish and satisfy fully all the needs of the guests giving them a great experience too.
The right location. Choosing the right location like, next to the beach is important for the tourists who decide to spend summer holidays in Greece. The easy accessibility to the property is also an important point.
Marketing and loyal guests. To choose the right marketing option is like in all types of hotel accommodations a key to be known to the tourists abroad and in the same country which also leads to success. Also, offering a great experience to the guests can gain loyal guests which is also playing an important role and save money compared to other ways of advertising the serviced apartments.
Further recommendations to develop which can make even more successful and may bring the western more spoiled people to this sector of serviced apartments is for example:
To offer or include some traffic building options like car rentals. Also, shuttles can be offered from airport, to beaches or village center for an additional daily price. This can create more profit not only to the owner of the serviced apartments but also to other companies of car rentals or shuttles due to alliances with the owner.
To develop some theme activities in order to get more famous or at least offer activities like mediation, yoga and other nowadays famous to people activities like hiking or diving excursions.
Offering weekly packages in vacation periods like Easter holidays can bring even more guests to the serviced apartments and gain also tourists from countries like Germany, France in April-May, where it is not a high season, and extend and make bigger the current limited seasonality of summer holidays in Greece.
Investors or in general people who want to start their own serviced apartment business can come across to some challenges in the beginning to be successful. Challenges like choosing and finding the right location can be a big challenge and time consuming. To get good locations in an intense and ferocious competition for land and for the property can be a challenge for these people who want to develop and grow in this serviced apartment segment. Another challenge is to make people to understand more the concept of serviced apartment. There exists a huge need of clarity and to be understandable to the people so that they can gain more trust in investing or building a serviced apartment property. It is also needed to be clarified and understandable to the guests who will choose to stay in a service apartment so that they can see all the benefits they are being offered compared to the hotels and become more famous as an accommodation segment.
Although there are existing these challenges the research and the results has been shown and confirmed that the serviced apartment sector has a lot of potential to grow more in Northern Greece. Furthermore, to develop and increase the supply of serviced apartments is a profitable source for people who want to start an own business and work in this sector and in general it is a good source for the hotel industry in Greece in the near future.
The conclusionThe sector of serviced apartments although in general it is a little segment of the hotel industry, it has many challenges but also a lot of growth potential and opportunities in the future in the north part of Greece.
The research had the task to achieve two main objectives which are linked to the research questions and has shown that there are existing a lot of reasons why tourists of these locations of northern Greece end up in choosing to stay in a serviced apartment rather than in a hotel which are also exceeding and that it is one of the most profitable sources for people who want to start their own serviced apartment business in these part of Greece.
Year by year the demand of serviced apartments from the tourists visiting Northern Greece is increasing but there is not enough supply which also can show that there is potential to develop more in this segment of accommodation. This also can confirm that constructing properties for the use of serviced apartment or working in the serviced apartment segment is a great way to make a huge profit nowadays in Greece.
Of course, finding the best location to establish a new business for services apartments is one of the challenges as has been told before. Moreover, a small barrier which could be difficult to pass is the unawareness and not clear idea of the people in general about what exactly are the serviced apartments and which benefits can they offer them more than a hotel. However, these barriers are possible to be passed by working and searching a lot for the right locations and advertising and explaining their guests exact the concept of the serviced apartments. Serviced apartments can be a successful business to operate in the summer months in Greece if a perfect combination of location, marketing, managing, planning, designing, constructing and personnel can be accomplished.
The research also answered other secondary questions to make clear the sector of serviced apartment in general like for example questions like:
What is an extended stay hotel/serviced apartment (product and operational characteristics) and what are the differences (advantages-disadvantages) compared to the hotels?
What kind of guests are choosing to stay in a serviced apartment and why (i.e. Families for summer holidays)?
What is the European view about the serviced apartments?
This research if it would be written again with the same topic or similar topic based on the extended stay hotels it would be useful to further analyze other interesting section related to the extended stay hotel accommodation.
Topic which would be useful to analyze are the competitors of this extended stay segment.
Competitors like Airbnb or hotels who offer mixed accommodation options to the guests can be a little danger to the increase of the serviced apartment properties and businesses because they can offer almost the same facilities as the serviced apartments and that is why it could be interesting and important to further be analyzed. However, what is important in the end is how the operators can meet all the needs of the guests and satisfy them fully in offering them the best service and guest experience.
Furthermore, the reasons why guests in Northern Greece are choosing to stay in a serviced apartment are all been identified and listed in this research, but it would be also interesting to research the opposite. By saying the opposite, it is meant to search why other guests choose to stay in a traditional hotel and what they know about them or if they ever heard about serviced apartments and their benefits. Is the serviced apartment segment well known in Greece in general?
Moreover, further studies could focus in analyzing quantitative data due to databases and statistical information about the length of stay of the guests coming from domestic and abroad locations in order to be surer that the Serviced Apartment sector is surely a booming sector with a great potential to grow.
Also, topics linked to the extended stay hotels which can further be analyzed are for example which type of accommodation guests prefer most in big cities of Greece like Athens or Thessaloniki and why tourist visiting the Greek islands prefer to stay in a hotel rather than in a serviced apartment. Also, why the independent investors and entrepreneurs are exceeding and there are not so many famous brands present in Greece is also a very large and interesting topic to analyze in other studies about the tourism industry in Greece.
A last option for further studies which would be very interesting and important to analyze for this segment of serviced apartment is the price elasticity and yield management. Also, the quality category of property or price and its impact which would require quantitative data could be very useful to find out more about this segment in a quantitative way.
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