Hong Kong’s Gateway Apartments wins award for best mobile-optimised website
Occupancy of serviced apartments in Hong Kong is on the rise, and service providers are finding that digital and social platforms have become key tools for letting potential tenants know what they have to offer
Hong Kong’s Gateway Apartments has won the Best Real Estate Mobile Website category of the MobileWebAwards 2016. What does this mean, and why does it matter?
The recently announced awards, hosted by the global Web Marketing Association, recognised the best of responsive websites optimised for mobile devices in the industry. In the case of Gateway Apartments, the luxury serviced apartment property located at Harbour City in Tsim Sha Tsui, the win is recognition of the company’s responsive new website, redesigned to provide users with optimal viewing and interaction experiences across a wide range of mobile devices.
The website content has been further enriched with new multimedia functions such as a photo gallery and video. “It will enable users to obtain detailed information about the apartments before making any decision to lease the units,” says Ronald Loges, general manager of Gateway Apartments.
And, according to Stella Abraham, head of residential leasing and relocation servicesat JLL, such convenient mobile functionality is indeed a big deal.
In the leasing war, she explains, serviced apartments are somewhere between hotels and apartments when it comes to long-term lets.
“Rentals that include ready-for-stay furnishings and facilities, hotel-like services and flexibility on the length of stays give those properties the edge over hotels,” she says. “Unlike hotel rooms, occupancy of serviced apartments in Hong Kong has increased 20 per cent over the last decade, even as the number of arriving overnight visitor has dropped.”
Among the all the options out there, in addition to great locations, breathtaking views and good design, technology matters most to today’s customers when choosing a serviced apartment, Abraham says.
The expectation of free internet access in any property is a given.
“This should not come as a surprise, considering that we live in a digital age where technology connects people and brings in revenue,” she says. “It also explains why digital and social platforms are becoming key tool for sales, marketing and services. People now do everything on their mobile phones and tablets, meaning they are more willing to be fed pushed subscriptions and pop-up advertisements, and this opens multiple two-way channels to the residential market. When products are more accessible to customers, targets are more achievable for businesses.” Industry research is also finding that more visitors are now likely to be travelling alone, probably due to the trend away from expat relocation packages in favour of assignments with local contracts.
“[Accommodation] enquiries can therefore be more last-minute,” Abraham says. “The decision- making process is handled more quickly, but there are more personal expectations involved. What individuals need is a responsive, comprehensive web platform featuring an interactive map, beautiful pictures, full lists of facilities and services, a function that shows real-time availability of vacant units during specified time periods, as well as a friendly reservation process.”
Even those looking for a long-term lease in a serviced apartment may not need to fly in to conduct a site visit if what is featured on a website shows how their new home will look – “especially now that the technology is available to provide 360-degree panoramic views of your chosen unit”, Abraham adds.
But all operators need to keep ahead of the game. WeChat is already the most common communication platform in China, and Abraham notes that customers may skip searching for online platforms altogether, instead choosing to follow an official residential account for recommendations and complete the whole reservation process, including paying the deposit, through WeChat.