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What is the best value in housing options when traveling for business?

By Katie McDonald

8 min read time

Business travel has many housing options: traditional hotels, extended stays, house rentals, and corporate housing. What is the best value for you? 

I was trying to lose weight, so I started this new diet. I was really making progress because it came with a cookbook where you make these delicious, easy meals,  specially formulated to help you eat more healthily and lose weight. It was going well too. I was down five pounds in the first week and really feeling good, then BAM!

My company decided to send me out on assignment. Now I'm stuck in this tiny hotel room with no kitchen, so I have to eat at a restaurant for every meal. Oh, it has a microwave, but microwave dinners aren't on my meal plan, so I guess I can kiss those skinny jeans goodbye!

This is better than last time, though - I think. The last time the company got me a vacation rental, it had a kitchen, but the furnishings were a bit suspect, and the bed was so lumpy that I spent the next three months at the chiropractor. I love my job, and I enjoy spending time in our other offices, but I can't live like this.

Anyone who travels a lot for work knows what I'm talking about here. If you travel for extended periods, you can probably relate. Your blood is probably boiling right now just remembering that experience – unless your company puts a high value on taking care of their employees.

Those companies take pains to consider the needs of their employees and provide them with housing that allows the employee to travel with minimal impact on their daily lives. Many of these companies use corporate housing for this exact reason.

You see, while corporate housing may not be the cheapest hospitality option, it offers more ways to make sure your team is well taken care of when on assignment over an extended period of time than any other housing option.

Instead of eating out for every meal and killing a healthy diet, people staying in corporate housing can make their meals. They have a full-size kitchen equipped with the essential cookware and dishes needed to make their meals. Some corporate housing providers even offer grocery packages at move-in to ensure guests have everything they need to make the most of supper time.

Once dinner is done, they can throw in a load of laundry before kicking back in the living room to watch the news, or maybe that Netflix movie they've been dying to see. Then at bedtime, they'll sink into their comfy bed between luxurious sheets, getting a good night's sleep in preparation for a productive day tomorrow.

When you send your staff out on an extended assignment or have an executive relocating, you have many options, including traditional hotels, extended stays, peer-to-peer rentals, and corporate housing. Each lodging segment has a different price point, and each has its ideal guest. What's important to understand is that not all of these options are best suited for corporate travelers on a more extended assignment.

Let's take a deeper dive into each of these lodging options and see what sort of travelers they are best suited to accommodate.

Traditional Hotels

A traditional business-class hotel caters to the traveling executive. These hotels will have all the amenities necessary to spoil your executive for a few days while they are "sealing the deal" on your next big client. Room service - check! Valet - check! Concierge - check! Gourmet restaurant to impress that next big client - check!

"Perfect!" you might say. I am always working with traveling executives, so a traditional hotel is what I need.

Whoa, now! Let's take a close look at this option before your book that reservation. Traditional hotels are fantastic when your traveler is there overnight or for a few days. Much longer than that, though, and that valued executive is going to feel like a sardine. The luxurious bedding and room service are divine, I'm not going to lie, but hotel rooms are small, and you can only trip over your suitcase for so long before you're ready to drop-kick it out the window. You know, if you could even open the window. *sad face*

GettyImages-1282829035Extended Stays

Hoorah! You have a kitchen! Sort of. Extended stays are an excellent lodging choice when traveling for a week or two. They have a bit more space, and they usually include a small refrigerator, a microwave, and sometimes even a little cooktop. You can definitely get by for a little while with these extras, but soon that tiny hard sofa isn't going to cut it anymore.

And what about laundry? Sure there's a laundry room in the building, but you'll have to dig around for coins, then sit in that clammy room and wait for your laundry to cycle through. I don't know about you, but that is not how I want to spend my evening after a long day at work.

Peer-To-Peer Rentals

One of the newest lodging concepts to hit the market is peer-to-peer rentals, such as Airbnb or VRBO. While they're working to position these rentals as corporate travel options, they are definitely best suited as vacation rentals. Indeed, they often have more space than a hotel room and access to a kitchen - possibly even a laundry room. But one issue many travelers face is an inconsistency between the housing, hosts, and platforms.

There is no standard for how a bedroom is classified. I've seen rentals listed as "suited for six people," but when you dig deeper, you see that it is a studio apartment with a pull-out couch and two air mattresses. Hand to God, this happens. All. The. Time.

If you're traveling with your spouse and kids, this is fine. Johnny and Timmy can take the air mattresses. You have a kitchen, so you can save some money cooking a few meals rather than going broke taking the entire family to a restaurant for three meals a day.

Plus, when Timmy falls in that cow pie during your trip to the petting zoo, you can put his clothes in the laundry when you get back rather than throwing them in the plastic grocery bag until you get home. Um, gross.

While peer-to-peer housing is a great option for families on vacation, the variability could be an issue for more extended stays. When it comes to finding a more consistent home-like environment for an employee who is relocating or on an extended assignment, corporate housing may be a better option. 

GettyImages-1289883686Corporate Housing

What is corporate housing, you ask? This lodging sector has been around for several decades but is a little-known option for most. These rentals are typically located in luxury apartment communities with amenities like a resort-style pool and a 24-hour state-of-the-art fitness center.

You can expect a full-size updated kitchen, often with upscale finishes like quartz countertops and islands, stainless steel appliances, and wood floors. The living room will be furnished with home-style furniture big enough to lay on the couch on a Sunday afternoon and watch your favorite football team on TV through your eyelids. 

Something else becoming more and more common is people traveling with their pets. Those little furballs give us a little extra comfort when we're in a new place, and staying in a residential apartment community makes having Duke or Fifi with us all the more acceptable. 

Most modern communities are starting to cater to pet owners and amenities like pet washing stations, off-leash dog parks, or other perks, making it easy to bring a pet along while you travel.

With so many homey touches and updated amenities, corporate housing has become the hospitality option of choice for many employers and their staff, particularly for longer-term assignments.

But Isn't Corporate Housing Expensive?

Honestly? It depends. For leisure travelers, corporate housing is less budget-friendly than other lodging options. The typical corporate apartment will cost about the same as an upscale hotel or private peer-to-peer rental on a per-night basis. However, for employers, the value of corporate housing far outweighs the cost. 

What does it cost to replace an esteemed member of your team when they get fed up with living out of a suitcase in a cramped hotel room? What is the cost of unproductive workers who spend every night wide awake because they are trying to sleep in an uncomfortable bed?

Corporate housing isn't the lodging option you use when looking to pinch every penny. It is the option you use when you value your employees and want to make sure they are happy, productive, comfortable, and feel appreciated. When you put it that way, spending a little more in this area makes sense.

It's kind of like the guy who takes a flight to his conference so that he can be fresh and well-rested, as opposed to driving a rented car for twelve hours and getting there just in time for his presentation. Which is going to put him in the best position to be successful?

Customize Your Stay with ExecuStay Midwest

Now that you understand why corporate housing is the lodging option of choice for many employers with staff traveling for more than a few weeks, let's talk about why ExecuStay Midwest will stack even more value on that stay.

At ExecuStay Midwest, we place a high value on creating a customized experience for our guests. We do so with a unique value proposition that most corporate housing companies don't have. We own our furniture. What does that mean to you? I'm not talking about furniture that's been sitting in an apartment for years, but instead customized furniture packages curated for your needs. 

Let's say you have an executive that will be relocating to Austin. She has a family of five, including four-year-old Olivia, eight-year-old Ryan, and seventeen-year-old Dylan. Oh boy. Since most corporate apartments are furnished with a queen-size bed in each bedroom, how are you going to accommodate this family?

Luckily, you're working with ExecuStay, so when your executive arrives at her apartment in Austin, she has a customized set-up. One of the rooms has been furnished with two twin beds rather than the typical queen, making it easier for Ryan and Olivia to share a room, and Dylan still gets the privacy a teenager desires.

ExecuStay also takes guest services to the next level. Here's an example. Bedding preferences are certainly not universal. I may like a soft bed, while the next person may prefer a firmer mattress. ExecuStay guests have the opportunity to get exactly what they need.

Just call your local 24-hour guest services representative and let them know that you need something different. Then, within the next day or so, your furniture will be changed out to something better suited to your specific needs.

As you can see, there are so many different lodging options for extended corporate travel, and there are just as many price points to go along with it. Corporate housing is not going to be your cheapest option. You simply can't get the sort of quality and spaciousness a corporate apartment offers for a bargain-basement price.

But let's not forget, it is a competitive job market, and it will cost much more to replace a talented employee than to take care of their basic needs. So if it is essential to you to provide a comfortable home away from home for your traveling employees, it is well worth the additional cost to provide housing designed to help them be the most productive they can be.

Where will you be doing business next? Get in touch with us at sales@execustaymidwest.com to get a custom proposal for comfortable, home-like furnished apartments in the area.

Tags: Corporate Housing, relocating for work, extended stay, Relocation Housing, furnished apartments, Pros & Cons

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