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CapitaLand’s serviced residence unit, The Ascott Limited (Ascott) – the world’s largest international serviced residence owner-operator, has entered into a strategic partnership with Quest Serviced Apartments (Quest) – the largest serviced apartment provider with 112 properties in Australia.

Ascott expects to invest up to AUD500 million (S$560 million) to acquire new properties that Quest will secure for its franchise in Australia over the next five years. Ascott will have a right of first refusal to acquire the properties sourced by Quest. Quest will then provide a lease for the properties, which will be operated under franchises using the Quest brand.

In addition, Ascott has signed an agreement to acquire a 20% stake in Quest for AUD28.8 million (S$32.3 million). As part of the agreement, Ascott has the option to increase its stake in Quest to 30%.

Ascott Reit Expands To Greater Sydney By Acquiring Three Serviced Residences For AUD83.0 Million

In a separate agreement, Ascott’s real estate investment trust, Ascott Residence Trust (Ascott Reit), will acquire three operating serviced residences in Greater Sydney from Quest for AUD83.0 million (approximately S$93.0 million). These are Ascott Reit’s maiden acquisitions in New South Wales.

Ascott logoQuest serviced apartment

The accretive acquisitions at an EBITDA yield of 7.7% are expected to increase Ascott Reit’s FY 2013 distribution per unit from 8.40 cents to 8.46 cents on a pro forma basis.

Ascott Reit will receive fixed rent by taking over the leases for the three serviced residences – Quest Sydney Olympic Park, Quest Campbelltown and Quest Mascot – and they will continue to be operated under franchises using the Quest brand.

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With the buzz around aparthotels increasing, we invite the directors behind Epic Liverpool to explain the business case that underpins the development of their two existing Liverpool-based properties and a new 12-key development on Duke Street.

St Regis serviced apartment

The serviced apartment concept is fast becoming an increasingly global phenomenon and in recent years has gained significant popularity, thereby representing a significant competitor for conventional hotels. Especially for corporate guests re-locating on a temporary basis, apartments have become very attractive and tend to offer a whole lot more than the standard hotel.
Serviced apartments have a higher occupancy rate than hotels, and the sector is forecast to continue to perform strongly in the coming years as improving economic conditions drive corporate demand.

Supply growth continues and serviced accommodation has seen a surge of new openings across popular UK city centres, driven by a demand for short and long term accommodation.

The serviced apartment sector is more profitable from a management perspective than a full service hotel, as the overheads are reduced, services and staff level are refined to allow for profits to be significantly higher.

Focus on Business Travellers

Serviced apartments are by far the most popular option for corporate travel, not only are they less expensive than the equivalent hotels, they offer individuals far more benefits.
Consumer research in recent years has indicated prominent reasons why business travellers choose serviced apartments in preference to a conventional hotel. One of the main factors is more space, as guests can find that they can work remotely and more productively as a result of the additional space that apartments tend to offer. Space varies per apartment for a number of reasons but usually apartments are available to hire in a studio, one or two bedroom apartment.

Having the option of a furnished apartment for a short or long-term stay, is much more appealing as it provides guests with everyday creature comforts, that make a stay far more pleasurable.
Serviced apartments tend to be more popular as they on average are more cost effective, whether it’s an all-expense paid business trip or a leisurely weekend away serviced apartments offer superb value for money. With a serviced apartment there are no hidden extras and if you opt to stay for a longer period of time, the cost per day usually works out cheaper and overall the money saved is more significant than hotel accommodation.

Serviced apartments provide more space and privacy, which is convenience when traveling, in a group or with work colleagues. Serviced apartments offer more flexibility, allowing occupants to dine in with the option to cook in the fully equipped fitted kitchen area. This can result in a lot of money being saved especially if the time staying at the apartment is lengthy.

Everyday Luxury

Serviced apartments tend to offer a very high standard and in many city centre locations, guests are presented with fresh contemporary décor and modern furniture, the quality expected from a hotel room is usually matched or better, in comparison to hotels alike.

If traveling for business and requiring a longer stay than usual, the addition of a dishwasher and washer/dryer is an added bonus, with some serviced apartments packages breakfast packs and bottles of wine or champagne can be supplied, offering convenience and flexibility to guests.

The luxury of having everyday amenities on hand brings savings associated that hotels charge for, for example serviced apartments house a fitted kitchen allowing for meals and meetings to be taken place in the social area of the apartment. This not only brings saving costs it also offers great convenience.

Cost Efficient for Business Travellers

Serviced apartments are more cost efficient because their rates are usually lower than that of hotel rooms, and serviced apartments also offer long-term rates, which convert to discounts.

More space in serviced apartments allows groups to travel together and the cost can be distributed between guests, this isn’t an option with a conventional hotel as they only offer one room.

Serviced apartments are a growing sector and the market is becoming increasingly educated as to the benefits that the serviced apartment offers over the traditional hotel room. The hotel sector is moving towards serviced apartments either by acquiring or developing their own brands or by offering certain service elements, for example by introducing apart hotels to their customer base.

The Housing Board investigated 184 cases of short-term leasing in public flats last year, a 73 per cent increase from 106 cases the year before.

It also received around 45 complaints about suspected cases from 2012 to last year.

Violators may lose their flats and get fined if they are found guilty of renting out spaces for less than six months.

Private home owners are not exempt from the six-month rule. They can be fined up to S$200,000 (US$158,995) and be jailed up to 12 months.Singapore HDB

The authorities say that such short-term rentals are banned as they might disturb neighbours in residential estates.

An Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) spokesman added that most residents prefer “familiarity” and not to live among “transient strangers”.

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But that has not stopped more online advertisements offering these short-term rentals, which span a few days to months, from sprouting.

Roomorama’s co-founder Teo Jia En, 32, told The Straits Times that her home-rental portal has more than 500 listings for Singapore properties, an increase of about 30 per cent compared to last year (only 192 on the website …if we are not wrong)

Turochas Fuad, 39, chief executive and co-founder of travelmob, a similar website, also noted an “increased adoption of hosts and listings” across Asia Pacific, though he declined to provide numbers for Singapore.

A search on travelmob turned up over 500 local listings, and another portal, Airbnb, has more than 1,000.

Many of these listings are for short-term rentals, and most appear to be of condominium units and rooms.

The URA looked into about 2,100 unauthorised uses of private residences last year, up from 1,300 cases in 2011.

These numbers include both short-term leases and unauthorised conversions of private properties into dormitories or boarding houses.

But owners and tenants, many of whom sublet their homes to help pay their mortgage or rent and to meet new people, said that they have not received any complaints from neighbours.

“They are very supportive,” said a 40-year-old business owner who has been renting out a room in her Novena condominium on Airbnb since June 2012.

She has had 13 bookings so far, with guests, usually tourists, paying S$110 each night and staying for three days on average.

“It’s such an incredible opportunity to meet people from all over the world without leaving your living room,” said a 29-year-old marketing manager who started subletting the master bedroom in her four-room Chinatown HDB flat last December.

Apart from tourists, some of her guests are students or those here on work attachments who stay for weeks.

Visitors prefer renting these spaces rather than staying at hotels as they are often cheaper and include access to amenities such as a kitchen.

For example, one can rent a room in a Chinatown flat for S$35 a night or S$230 a week, while a hotel room in the same area might cost about S$150 a night.

Teo said: “It allows them to live like locals, which is unlike what they would get in a cookie-cutter hotel.”

While Fuad said that most travelmob guests prefer to stay in the central area for convenience, Teo noted that Roomorama’s most popular rentals are in East Coast and Bukit Timah.

“They prefer a respite from the hustle and bustle of the city centre,” she explained.

Asked whether they help to enforce the short-term rental rules, Fuad replied: “We do state in our terms and conditions for our hosts to understand their local laws before they list on our site.”

“The onus is on the home owners to make sure they are in compliance,” added Teo, noting that licensed serviced apartments advertise on her website.

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The Ascott, serviced residence business unit, has acquired a Hong Kong serviced residence for HK$545 million (S$88.8 million).

The 55-unit property will be rebranded as Citadines Mercer Hong Kong in the third quarter of 2014, the company said in a statement on April 2.citadines

The serviced residence in Sheung Wan on Hong Kong Island, is next to the Central Business District.

It is also close to the bustling Soho area, and near well-known Lan Kwai Fong street.

Singaporean serviced apartment chain The Ascott Limited has announced moves to expand into Myanmar and increase its presence in Germany and Asia on Thursday.
The wholly-owned unit of developer CapitaLand said yesterday that it has won a contract to operate a 153-unit mixed-use development in Yangon.
Somerset Kabar Aye Yangon
The property – Somerset Kabar Aye Yangon – is a 15-minute drive from downtown Yangon and 30 minutes from the airport. It is due to open in early 2018 and will be Ascott’s first outlet in Myanmar.
The firm also announced yesterday that it has won a contract to manage the Somerset Zhuankou Wuhan, in Hubei, China. The 245-unit property is projected to open in 2018 and will comprise commercial and residential components.
The Ascott Sentral Kuala Lumpur, which the firm is managing, will open on March 21 while the Ascott Midtown Suzhou in China should be operating by next month.
These announcements come on the heels of Ascott’s opening its first property in Frankfurt, Germany, on March 1.
Acquired for €28 million (US$38.8 million) while under construction in 2011, the 165-unit Citadines City Centre Frankfurt is Ascott’s third serviced residence in Germany, adding to those in Berlin and Munich.
Ascott chief executive Lee Chee Koon said the moves are part of the firm’s search for investment opportunities in key markets such as China, Germany and South-east Asian capitals.

Mr Lee Chee Koon, Ascott’s Chief Executive Officer, said: “As Ascott celebrates 30 years of successful business, we would like to thank all our customers for their unwavering support. In 2013 alone, we had over one million stays, of which a significant percentage was from repeat guests and we look forward to their continued support. To enable our guests to enjoy the comforts of home in more destinations, we plan to open 58 properties across 12 countries by 2018, of which about 20 properties are scheduled to open this year.”

Far East Hospitality Holdings, a premier hospitality assets owner and operator, is a 70-30 joint venture formed in 2013 between Far East Orchard Limited (a listed company under Far East Organization) and The Straits Trading Company Limited.Far East

In the same year of its formation, Far East Hospitality through its wholly-owned subsidiary Far East Hospitality Investments (Australia) Pte Ltd, completed a 50-50 joint venture with Australia’s Toga Group.

Toga hospitality

With the joint ventures, Far East Hospitality has established itself as a regional hospitality owner and operator with a sizable overseas network.

It now has a combined portfolio of more than 13,000 rooms under management across more than 80 hotels and serviced residences in eight countries – Australia, China, Denmark, Germany, Hungary, Malaysia, New Zealand and Singapore.

Far East Hospitality’s stable of nine unique and complementary brands – “Quincy”, “Oasia”, “Village”, “Rendezvous”, “Adina”, “Medina”, “Vibe”, “Travelodge” and “Marque” – present excellent opportunities for cross-selling initiatives across the different brands and geographic markets, offering guests with a greater diversity of choices and locations.

Speed and innovation usually characterize successful and growing companies, but when it comes to the prospect of starting to offer HomeAway’s vacation rentals on, Expedia Inc. is noncommittal and taking it all extremely slow and easyhomeAwayexpedia

The two parties announced a partnership last October, and today, during Expedia Inc.’s fourth quarter earnings call, CEO Dara Khosrowshahi said the company has just started to experiment with HomeAway’s vacation rentals, but won’t gather enough data about it until the second half of 2014.

Expedia will study how adding vacation rentals to its accommodation mix impacts conversions, and will expand the offering to the extent that consumers show they are interested, Khosrowshahi said.

Khosrowshahi said the company’s emphasis will continue to be in growing its hotel business, although it is optimistic about the HomeAway partnership, which is in the early stages of testing.

“But it is really too soon to call” how the partnership will take shape, Khosrowshahi said.

Expedia clearly sees hotels as where its biggest margins are. And vacation homes certainly have far fewer rooms than hotels.

Still, Expedia wants to compete with, which offers a broad range of lodging offerings, but Expedia is making no commitments at this stage about what its vacation rental offering will look like.

Expedia officials were very bullish about the performance of its Trivago business, which saw its revenue grow more than 85% in 2013, contributing about 4 percentage points to Expedia’s revenue growth for the year.

With the Trivago acquisition paying off and fueling Expedia’s growth, Khosrowshahi said Expedia will continue to look to grow through acquisition, and will be “opportunistic” about such opportunities.

In response to an analyst’s question, Khosrowshahi declined to discuss Google’s punishment of Expedia for SEO bad practices. “We are not going to comment on speculative articles about our Google trends,” Khosrowshahi said, adding that Expedia’s traffic from Google organic and paid search is growing annually.

He therefore didn’t address the impact of Google’s punishment so far in the first quarter of 2014, with some analysts pointing to Expedia’s SEO presence taking at least a 25% hit.

Khosrowshahi said Expedia constantly audits its SEO practices to make sure they are industry-leading, although that’s a dubious premise given recent events.


Expedia implemented its partnership with Travelocity, providing the back-end to its U.S. site in December, and will have up and running on the Expedia platform in the first half of the year, Khosrowshahi said. The implementation had no significant impact on Expedia’s financial results in the fourth quarter.

CFO Mark Okerstrom said there are a lot of question marks about how the Travelocity partnership will work out. He said Expedia doesn’t know what the conversion rates will be on Travelocity websites as they operate under Expedia’s power as it is an unknown how consumers will react to seeing something different on the Travelocity sites.

In addition, the success of the partnership depends on how much marketing spend Travelocity will put into the effort, and that is “outside our control,” Okerstrom said.

“There is a whole lot of uncertainty about that,” Okerstrom said.

Travelocity’s parent, Sabre, after all, is trying to pull off an IPO and clean up the bottom line so it’s unclear what priority it will give to the Travelocity-Expedia partnership.

Expedia Traveler Preference

Officials said nearly 45,000 hotels have implemented the Expedia Traveler Preference program, which enables them to offer Expedia consumers the options of prepaying for hotels using the merchant model, or paying at the hotel, which brings reduced commission to Expedia.

Okerstrom says the program removed two barriers to the growth of Expedia’s hotel business: hoteliers who didn’t want to work with Expedia because they didn’t want to participate in Expedia’s merchant model program, and consumers who were only interested in paying at the hotel.

Said Okerstrom: ETP “is a very positive catalyst for our business.”

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Frasers Centrepoint Ltd (FCL) , a company controlled by Thai billionaire Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi, is looking to raise up to S$600 million ($473 million) through the listing of a hospitality real estate investment trust in Singapore in the second quarter, sources said.Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi

This listing would mark the first step toward the merging of property assets of Charoen’s business empire, which operates under the Singapore-listed FCL and his TCC Group, after the Thai tycoon won control of the drinks-and-property conglomerate Fraser and Neave in an $11 billion deal last year.

Charoen’s fortunes appear better than rival businessman Dhanin Chearavanont, whose retail firm CP ALL has become Asia’s most indebted food retailer after an expensive acquisition funded by a large foreign currency loan.

FCL’s planned real estate investment trust would hold serviced residences owned by F&N and other assets such as the InterContinental Hotel in Singapore, which Charoen’s TCC Group owns, sources said.

FCL, which split from Fraser and Neave into a separately listed property-focused company, has a market value of $3.2 billion, while Fraser and Neave is valued at $3.8 billion.

F&N returned S$4.73 billion to shareholders as part of a capital reduction last year.

If dividends are included, Charoen’s deal to takeover F&N is profitable especially after the split, which now reflects a better market value of its Singapore property business, one of the sources told Reuters.

In a research note last month, UBS also flagged the possibility of Charoen’s Thai Beverage selling its stake in the property business and taking a larger stake in F&N to focus on the food and beverage firm.


FCL’s Frasers Hospitality owns serviced residences in Singapore, Europe, North Asia, Southeast Asia, the Middle East and Australia, offering about 8,000 apartments in more than 30 cities, according to its website.

FCL has picked DBS, HSBC, Morgan Stanley and United Overseas Bank as the main advisers on the deal, sources with direct knowledge of the matter said.

These banks also played a key role the F&N transaction with DBS and UOB providing the bulk of the financing.

“The deal could come as early as April, but all depends on the markets,” a source with direct knowledge of the matter said, adding the deal size could be between S$500 million and S$600 million.

A spokesman for FCL said the group has previously announced that it is exploring the possibility of a hospitality REIT, but declined to confirm the name of the advisers and the size of the deal. The banks were not immediately available to comment.

Airbnb had a difficult end to 2013, with a botched marketing campaign that included a trademark infringement lawsuit from competitor HomeAway.
After scrapping the Birdbnb campaign, the company is back with a new marketing effort called Airbnb Shorts.Airbnb

The campaign focuses on current Airbnb hosts, asking them to create short 15 second videos that showcase some of their favorite local spots.

The idea is to create a robust file of videos that can then be used across the Airbnb website, efficiently and affordably adding multimedia depth to the Airbnb Neighborhoods product.

The contest works like this:

Create a 15 second video that focuses on why someone should visit the city – a video that will “inspire people to visit your city.”
Hashtag it with AirbnbShorts and the city name.
Set Instagram account to public, as private accounts can be seen.
Judging will occur based on the most creative, unique and interesting videos.

The person responsible for judging the competition is Mike Plante, who is the lead programmer for the Sundance Shorts program. So not only is this a chance to win a trip, aspiring filmmakers have the opportunity to jump into view of one of the lead tastemakers for short films at world-renowned Sundance.

Source Tnooz

The usage of Instagram is essential to the marketing effort, as the brand not only gets a video windfall but also reaps a social media bonanza via the wide penetration of the Airbnb Shorts hashtag. This then emphasizes one of Airbnb’s key value propositions, which is the deep insider knowledge provided to guests by their worldwide network of hosts.
One grand prize winner will receive airfare to London in April 2014, including a voucher for $500 per night at an Airbnb listing, a video camera and a ticket to the Shorts Workshop put on by the Sundance Institute.

Singapore based travel site BeMyGuest has received a strategic investment from premium South Korean travel service Tidesquare. This follows its recently concluded round of angel funding, which successfully raised S$500,000 from undisclosed investors from the travel, financial and property sectors two months ago. Tidesquare is the third largest online travel agency (OTA) in South Korea, and it operates an online travel mall for premium card members, Privia Travel.


With 300,000 site visitors generating 15,000 to 20,000 bookings every month, Tidesquare’s revenue from ticket sales amounted to over US$120 million in 2012.

Now, as one of the largest OTAs in South Korean private travel operations, the company seeks new markets in Southeast Asia. Apart from providing Tidesquare a foothold in Southeast Asia, BeMyGuest’s unique platform also contributed to seal the deal. “BeMyGuest presents a fresh travel product that is growing rapidly in popularity with travellers everywhere,” Tidesquare CEO Min Yoon elaborates.

“We’re very happy to have the opportunity to invest in such a unique product and team that is clearly providing travellers with the unique experiences they seek today.” Launched in beta in October 2012 and now the leading aggregator of tours and activities in Asia, BeMyGuest is a travel intermediary that helps local suppliers and travel intermediaries distribute local accommodation, activities and events to travellers.

The idea for BeMyGuest came to founder, CEO and travel industry veteran, Clement Wong during a business trip in Africa. Travellers in Southeast Asia can look forward to new BeMyGuest deals in South Korea. “South Korea is a large inbound travel sector in South East Asia and we see this integration of our companies as such a positive move for both region’s tourism markets, and a huge win for the travel consumer,” notes Wong. “We’re thrilled that Tidesquare has expressed such confidence and belief in BeMyGuest to make such a strategic investment Second step: Asian aggregator of local tours and activities,

Second step

BeMyGuest, has acquired former competitor Indiescapes for an undisclosed amount. This move will add the numerous travel experiences across Southeast Asia currently curated on Indiescapes to the BeMyGuest site. It will give travellers a wider range of individual local experiences to choose from, as well as enable hosts and travel businesses to reach out to more travellers.

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