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Corporate Housing: It's Not Just for Business Travelers

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Maid service. Cable TV. Concierge services. A bathroom stocked with all of the essentials -- shampoo, mouthwash, toothpaste, strategically placed towels. A gift basket. An ironing board. But you're not in a hotel. Instead, you're staying in corporate housing, a fast-growing market across the United States that's proving to be more cost-effective for companies and more comfortable for employees. And the race is on for the most comprehensive and luxurious services possible.

If you're on assignment for any length of time, a hotel room doesn't compare to the flexibility and comfort that corporate housing provides. Corporate Housing is sprouting up all over the United States, as apartment developers add this profitable and much-in-demand option to their list of services. But how long is long enough when you're considering corporate housing?

Corporate housing, sometimes called temporary housing, is designed primarily for employees or individuals that require "long-term" (for a period of 20 days or more) housing due to relocation, disaster, or a lengthy yet temporary assignment. Although apartments, townhouses, and condominiums are the most common varieties of corporate housing, single-family homes are on the rise, as well. And corporate housing providers, increasingly aware that pleasing their clients often means accommodating their clients' families, are providing such amenities as cribs and high chairs, keeping in mind that business people occasionally bring their families with them on assignments, or share occasional visits. Some facilities allow pets, and one corporate housing provider even provides Disney bedspreads upon request.

In many cases, companies find that placing their employees in corporate housing is more cost-effective. And it's a well-received alternative by employees, who are able to set up homes away from home, with their own kitchens, laundry facilities, and extra space. While they provide more flexibility for residents, corporate facilities often have many of the same service-oriented features as hotels. In some accommodations, in fact, a stay in temporary housing may resemble a mini-vacation of sorts. Corporate housing staples include TV with basic cable (additional channels are optional); fully furnished rooms, including kitchens with microwaves, dishes, basic cookware, and silverware; local phone service; and linens. Many include washers and dryers, and those that don't usually have on-site facilities. Maid service is often available, cable TV is often provided, and the list of creature comforts continues to grow in the wake of competition among various corporate housing companies. Ironing boards, answering machines, microwave ovens, and vacuums are a few examples.

Corporate housing is following the trend started by the business world it serves. It's going high-tech. Oakwood Corporate Housing, one of the country's major corporate housing providers, includes such options as printers, fax modems, multiple-line telephones, and -- for big and little children -- Nintendo game players.

Oakwood, which has a significant presence in California's booming Silicon Valley -- a region attracting the brightest recruits from throughout the world -- offers a particularly unique package, called the "Asian Kitchen," to accommodate a growing proportion of its clientele. The package includes a rice steamer, teapot and teacups, soup and noodles bowls, rice bowls, and four pairs of chopsticks. And for those clients who plan to do some serious Asian cooking during their stay, a separate Asian Cooking Package includes a stir-fry wok, ladle, spatula, chopsticks, and cleaver. For clients who have traveled from overseas, it may not be home, but it's pretty close.

According to K&M Relocation Network, which includes a corporate housing division, the cost of a fully furnished apartment is typically 30 percent to 50 percent less than the cost of a hotel room. For example, assuming that a one-night stay in a corporate apartment will cost you approximately $60, one night in a hotel could run as high as $120 or more. If you're on a $3,000 business travel budget, you'll get 50 nights in a corporate apartment for that price, but only 25 nights in a hotel before you're out of money.

While these facilities are designed to resemble home-like environments, utilities -- including telephone, cable TV, gas, and electricity -- usually are included in the cost. To further illustrate the potential cost savings of choosing corporate accommodations versus an apartment, consider all of the little charges that add up when you're an apartment-dweller: a move-in deposit, monthly rent, electricity deposit, monthly electric bill, telephone service deposit, monthly phone bill, furniture rental deposit when applicable, monthly furniture rental when applicable, housewares deposit, monthly housewares rental, weekly housekeeping service, monthly cable TV fee, and cable deposit/installation. Corporate housing, in contrast, charges companies one monthly bill, a consolidated monthly statement that varies according to the package selected by the employer or employee.

Employers also are finding that providing such facilities eases the stress of business travel or relocation. Studies have indicated that companies experience increased productivity from their employees when they are able to reduce their stress by living in an environment which closely resembles their normal living situation. The commute to work usually is kept to a minimum, entertainment opportunities are often present, and recreational activities are plentiful -- jogging trails, fitness centers, and tennis courts, for example.

But corporate housing providers realize they've got a potential market that extends far beyond the business travel. Many people are in need of temporary housing for a variety of reasons -- vacations, seasonal travel, emergency stays, traveling with children, or interim housing, for example. For all of these groups, temporary housing represents a more attractive alternative -- particularly for families -- because of the cost savings they may provide. Families who head to a restaurant three times a day, for example, may be alarmed at how quickly their travel budgets are drained; but a family who instead heads to a nearby grocery store for staples will save a significant amount of money. After all, parents know that children will be far more receptive to the idea of cereal in the kitchen than eggs Benedict at the local restaurant. In response, multifamily developers, such as Gables Residential, increasingly are turning to corporate housing as a hot new avenue to generate business.

About the Author

Since 1989 dan the roommate man has helped 1000's of people find roommates. Need help? Contact him at 800-487-8050 or www.roommateexpress.com

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