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Ascott and Oakwood upgrade serviced flats for tech-savvy ‘nomad’ millennials

Oakwood in Asia-Pacific provides an in-room tablet and mobile phone with 4G capabilities for guests’ use in both of its properties in Singapore

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 16 August, 2018, 11:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 16 August, 2018, 11:00am

Home is where the heart is. For millennials, it is also the place where technology is up to scratch, time-saving conveniences are a given, and, ideally, there are opportunities for wellness and social engagement within their own niche community.

They are not so inclined to want a “job for life”, nor plan to put down permanent roots in one place. According to PwC’s Millennials at Work research, the current generation of 20- and 30-somethings will represent 70 per cent of the global workforce in less than five years, and two-thirds of them would be happy to get an overseas assignment during their career (32 per cent more than Generation X.)

“This mobile generation of millennials grew up with technology, social media and the sharing economy,” says Mindy Teo, vice-president for brand, marketing and digital innovation, The Ascott. “They demand flexibility, openness and collaboration.

They no longer draw distinctions between business and pleasure, work and play. They have no qualms about being digital nomads, travelling frequently as part of work or relocating for work.

“More than anything else, they seek out experiences, and value being part of a community.”

So as millennials globetrot with higher expectations than generations before, they have raised standards for nomads of all ages. In housing, that means more value added being offered by the serviced apartments sector, the traditional provider of flexible, convenient leasing packages for the mobile workforce.

Nowhere is this more apparent than in Singapore, rated by expatriates as the best country in the world to live and work – for the third year in a row – in the annual HSBC Expat Explorer survey.

Appealing to the tech-savvy, Oakwood in Asia-Pacific provides an in-room tablet and mobile phone with 4G capabilities for guests’ use in both Oakwood Studios Singapore and Oakwood Premier OUE Singapore.

“This includes our own Oakwood app,” says Paul Stocker, vice-president, sales, marketing & revenue management of Oakwood Worldwide (Asia).

The app provides information about the neighbourhood and apartment equipment manuals. It allows guests to request additional amenities, report defects and shop for their groceries. At Oakwood Studios Singapore, partner companies supplying speciality items via the app include Nespresso, Monogram, a special tea blend; and Skin Inc, a bespoke skincare brand.

In the coming months, a collaboration with an established medical group and reputable home spa company will offer guests at Oakwood Premier OUE Singapore more comprehensive services via the in-room technological devices, Stocker says.

Ascott also provides a pocket Wi-fi device for guests at its Singapore properties. Service butler robots deployed in Ascott Raffles City Beijing and Ascott IFC Guangzhou can perform tasks such as leading guests to their rooms or properties’ facilities; providing concierge services; refilling room supplies and delivering packages.

“We are testing the use of artificial intelligence to learn guests’ temperature preferences, and pairing this with a smart thermostat device to control air-conditioning settings, to enhance guest comfort,” Teo says.

At Pan Pacific Serviced Suites Orchard, lifestyle facilities focus on wellness, with an infinity outdoor swimming pool overlooking the marina, a pool deck for residents’ yoga and a “hugely popular” five-step hydro-therapeutic spa.

Millennials will continue to drive the evolution of serviced apartments services, experts say. With the millennial traveller segment already making up one-quarter of Ascott’s global customer base, and poised to expand, Teo says: “We design products and experiences for the future of travel through lyf [pronounced ‘life’] a co-living brand designed and managed by millennials for millennials and the millennial-minded”.

Since the brand was launched in 2016, “we have secured five properties in China, Singapore and the Philippines that will come under the ‘lyf’ brand and open from late 2018 to 2021”, Teo adds.

Ascott has simulated a lyf product and tests co-living concepts at [email protected], the sector’s first living lab in Singapore, Teo says. A partnership with Singapore Management University (SMU) in the 3,000-square-metre space since 2017 enables SMU students to be the “first to experience and shape upcoming lyf properties”, he says.