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edyn could well be one of the few hospitality success stories of the past 12 months. While most of the industry has seen demand sorely depleted, edyn’s aparthotel concept has reaped rewards as the team has been able to balance long-stay base business with injections of demand from transient guests.
edyn offers lifestyle aparthotels across its Locke and SACO brands, as well as The Moorgate in London and Wittenberg in Amsterdam.
According to Emmanuel Lacour, Group Director of Revenue, edyn, the company was very fortunate with the fact that it offers self-confined apartments.
“From March onwards last year it was quite clear we would continue to have some demand. We actually traded 65% occupancy for the whole year and we always stayed open,” Lacour explained.
During the whole of 2020 edyn temporarily closed just two of its properties, and even in the height of the UK’s first lockdown, in April and May of 2020, 80% of its properties were open.
“During the first lockdown we had a lot of people stuck in the UK with all international travel being stopped. We were calling ourselves ‘the recovery team’ because it was quite clear to us that the situation demanded a lot of price sensitivity because these guests didn’t plan to stay another three weeks or months in London. We offered recovery pricing for the first three months of lockdown. The idea was if we can trade and stay open, because there were a lot of customers needing accommodation, we would do so long as we covered our costs.”
The edyn properties were soon being used by lots of essential key workers: NHS, construction, and other industries needing to trade and needing accommodation. This enabled the portfolio to continue trading at a comparatively high occupancy, even at the height of lockdown.
“Our model was very resilient. We had a lot of our mid-stay and long-stay residents who stayed with us, so that also helped us to weather the storm and stay open,” Lacour admitted.
Once the first UK lockdown came to a close and things started to reopen, edyn saw an increase in staycation users, to the point that summer 2020 actually ended up being something of a bumper year. This included the opening of four new Locke locations in the UK and Ireland last year.
“In August and September 2020 some of our properties were trading at 95% occupancy and at decent rates,” Lacour said.
The trend was for shorter stays, generally long weekend trips away being used by couples and families bored of being stuck at home and wanting a change of scenery.
“We have been really resilient - we are not quite at 2019 levels as a company, but there are certain properties that are. Cardiff, for example, saw a lot of essential worker groups and has been trading at 2019 levels already. Staycations we know will be strong again from May onwards, as foreign travel trips are uncertain, and we see a lot of bookings already. We saw a definite boost in bookings once the UK Roadmap was announced,” Lacour said.
Critical to edyn’s success was its technology, with Duetto at the center.
“The ability to see performance by market segment in ScoreBoard made it easy for us to understand the different levels of demand and which properties were going to be the most resilient,” Lacour explained.
The revenue team at edyn used Duetto to set pricing rules for minimum rates based on marginal cost + minimum contribution. A lot of this was automated, but Lacour and the team did still need to monitor.
“Duetto will not know if there is a Boris Johnson announcement coming and when. As we knew before every announcement there will be an increase in demand, we were able to anticipate the surge in demand with increased prices. It is so easy to change any price in Duetto as we now have pretty much all segments on Open Pricing; but if we miss something or if we don’t increase enough, it's good to know we know Duetto will automatically adjust and push up the price too, based on bookings/forecasts,” Lacour explained.
Working with their Customer Success Manager, Melody Grelat, the edyn team set up length of stay pricing rules, targeting mid and long-term stays, creating lower prices for those staying longest in order to remain competitive.
“What helped a lot was the fact that we changed their segmentation a couple of times last year and at the beginning of 2021. Thanks to this change, the edyn team is able to price by LOS and get the granularity they need in terms of reporting to see where their business is coming from, by LOS, be it OTA, direct, groups, short, mid and long-term. This greater visibility helped them to strategize more effectively,” explained Grelat.
“edyn is a great client because they really use every available feature in Duetto. As soon as we release a new feature, they use it. They have been using some of our latest features: AutoPilot Schedule and Autopilot for Restrictions, and this is helping them implement strategy faster,” she added.
Using Duetto’s short-term forecast was another key factor. The Duetto short-term forecast enables users to set a parameter of as little as two weeks to benchmark against, rather than relying on same time last year data, which is irrelevant.
“It is hard for any RMS to forecast this [a pandemic] but as the forecast is based on the last few weeks it meant it ignored totally last year and only looked at very recent historical data. Given how dynamic the situation was, we didn't spend too much time looking at forecast accuracy and only used the Duetto short-term one, but made sure our pricing was right based on our recovery expectations and demand indicators, such as web regrets and pick up” Lacour said.
Lacour remains hopeful that 2021 will yield some success for edyn.
“We are quite optimistic for the rest of the year. People are desperate to travel as we know, but the spend of recovery will essentially depend on three things: the vaccine rollout, new variants, and restrictions easing. It is still a buyer's market where supply is much bigger than demand, and we are still suffering from a lack of international travelers and special events, but booking curves are definitely going in the right direction. Some properties are really surprising us and are already looking positive, such as Jersey and Farnborough, which is very busy with corporates already booked above 80% mid week,” Lacour explained.
He also noted that, with UK schools now back, London is even starting to pick up. “I think London has some good signs of recovery, even if the occupancy will be more price rather than demand driven,” he remarked.
And the company is continuing with its ambitious expansion plans, with seven new openings this year. The group opened four new properties in 2020, including Dublin and London, and already has announced aggressive growth plans, especially in Europe, with confirmed projects in Munich, Lisbon, Copenhagen, London or Cambridge.
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