Nobody can deny that this has been a very strange, very disturbing year, on pretty much every level.
But if nothing else, the pandemic has allowed people to step back and think slightly differently. Take stock, make some resolutions, plan ahead.
The ASAP team spent the first months of lockdown supporting members and their efforts to accommodate frontline workers and those needing emergency housing. And then to keep everyone updated on the latest regulations and advice, and act as a COVID news portal.
And as we started to come through the first wave and see some normality returning, we were there to help promote our Members and ensure guests saw the benefits of safe, self-catering accommodation that was professionally managed and Covid-clean.
But the second lockdown also gave us time to re-examine and simplify our own plans. As part of this, the ASAP team and our Advisory Boards have been reflecting on our own future as a body, and how we want to position ourselves going forward.
We’ve been through a lengthy and evolving evaluation process, working on simplifying our vision, our purpose, our outrageous ambitions for the Association. We have realised as a result of everything we’ve all been through, along with our members’ resolute response to the pandemic, that we’re more committed than ever to ensuring that guests and buyers understand the value of ASAP and of accreditation.
One result of all this reflection led us towards independence for ISAAP, realising that separating the two bodies formally means a brighter and more powerful future for both. We are currently assessing approaches from a number of bodies keen to take ISAAP forward to its next stage of development, and grow its reach as an accreditation body.
As founder members of the Global Alliance of Serviced Accommodation, we’re also deep in discussion with a number of bodies, including our good friends at the CHPA, to find the best way to work together to promote standards in the sector and take advantage of people’s preference for self-contained living. And we’re adding more trade bodies and associations to our list of supportive partners, recognising the strength that lies in collaboration at this time.
We’re also currently generating growing interest among buyers of corporate travel and some of the major travel management companies, with growing interest in our Buyers’ Group – as well as the more social aspect of our serviced accommodation community. Not bad when we haven’t been able to meet for the last year!
And this at a time when we are starting to see signs of a recovery in travel. Our colleagues at the GBTA conducted a poll of its members across the globe last week and the results show that almost a quarter are either actively restarting, or planning to re-start, global non-essential business travel, while two-thirds feel their employees are ‘’willing’’ or ‘’very willing’’ to travel for business in the current environment. That’s up 11% on the last poll they conducted in March.
Meanwhile the EU and the UK are among those working on certificates which will allow free movement between borders, based on vaccinations, tests and antibodies. How long that will take, and whether it will mitigate against the requirement for quarantine we will see. But it shows intent to get people moving between countries again, which can only be good news for our sector.
So there it is. Some optimism in the air, at last.
In summary, we weathered a disaster, during which we took the time to re-evaluate, set ourselves on a more defined course, and people are starting to travel again.
We want to ensure that when they do, buyers automatically seek out accreditation, understand the value of recognised standards, and make the choice to book accommodation bearing the ASAP Marque because they understand and value it.
Ultimately our aim is clearer than ever: that anyone booking accommodation displaying the ASAP Marque is doing so because they know that they, their families and their employees can truly stay with confidence.