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Corporate Housing in the COVID-19 Era

By Colton Tucker

7 min read time

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the lives of millions around the world. With such a new health threat active in hot spots across the globe, governments have shut down many businesses to fight the spread of coronavirus.

Fortunately, the corporate housing industry is not a sector that has closed as a result of COVID-19. Corporate housing providers throughout the world have, however, been affected by lockdowns and stay-at-home-orders and have taken drastic steps to keep guests safe and happy while staying in corporate apartments.

As a 30 year leader in the corporate housing industry, ExecuStay Midwest has operated through several pandemics including SARS, MERS, Swine Flu, and Bird Flu, but we have had to make unprecedented changes to how we operate to better serve our clients during COVID-19.

Because the coronavirus and subsequent lockdowns have taken such a toll on the travel industry, corporate housing companies are facing many of the same struggles as hotels and other hospitality providers. There are several important facets unique to the corporate housing industry that have been affected by the coronavirus outbreak.

Read on for an exclusive inside look at how corporate housing providers are responding to these challenges and what that means for guests as travel restrictions are lifted.


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How has the Industry been Impacted?

Travel industry experts have stated that business travel-oriented lodging will continue to shoulder costs for the rest of the travel industry as business travel may recover slower than leisure travel in the U.S.

With business travel being a large segment of corporate housing users, this suggests that at least part of the corporate housing market will take time to return to normal in the corporate housing industry.

Other important groups, including students, interns, sports teams, film crews, and leisure travelers have all either reduced their travel or completely stopped traveling until the pandemic has been eradicated or reduced to an acceptable level.

Healthcare Workers

For other clients, however, utilization of corporate housing has been higher than ever because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Corporate housing companies have seen an uptick in usage from healthcare professionals and government employees as they’ve traveled to coronavirus hot spots to assist in the fight against the contagious disease.

These guests have traditionally not been a major segment of a corporate housing provider’s customer base, comprising only a small margin of clients each year. As the majority of common corporate housing users are adjusting to the travel restrictions and working remotely during the pandemic, though, healthcare providers have taken a step forward as some of the most common clients during COVID-19.

Pest Control Companies

A more unexpected group that has begun staying with corporate housing companies during the crisis has been pest control companies. These companies are seeing an increase in business as people are staying home and noticing more signs of pest activity than previously noticed.

Others are even renovating their homes while social distancing and finding these pests in more secluded locations, also leading to increased activity for pest control specialists.

Because of this, these specialists are being requested to service more homes than ever, especially in areas under lockdown and stay-at-home orders. The pest control companies are therefore sending employees to these areas, where they are staying with corporate housing companies before returning home.

These companies are often taking advantage of the new programs created by corporate housing providers to better serve guests during the coronavirus pandemic. Let’s take a look at some of the updated policies corporate housing companies are offering travelers.


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Crisis Relief Pricing

Many corporate housing providers have implemented plans to discount pricing for frontline heroes and other travelers during the COVID-19 pandemic. While the discounts vary depending on the company, the drop in price can reach up to 40% off the regular nightly rate for some corporate apartments.

This Crisis Relief Pricing plan is a new institution for several corporate housing companies and offers some of the most significant savings travelers will find.

Not all corporate housing providers have utilized a plan similar to the Crisis Relief Pricing plan, however. Some have continued to operate under traditional pricing or another type of discount program.

After life returns to normal for these companies, the success of their response plans will provide a blueprint for how they will handle crises in the future.


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Reduced Minimum Stay Requirements

Another response that many in the corporate housing industry have taken is to reduce the minimum stay requirements to use their services.

Under standard operating conditions, many corporate housing providers offer their apartments only to travelers staying for 30 days or longer. While not a universal policy, travelers will have difficulty finding a corporate housing provider with a minimum stay requirement lower than 30 days without paying extra for their stay.

During the Coronavirus outbreak however, corporate housing providers have recognized that many travelers need the flexibility that a lower minimum stay requirement offers. As a result, many providers reduced or removed their minimum stay requirements to assist short-term travelers during this difficult time.

Similar to the Crisis Relief Pricing plans, the success of these minimum stay reductions could encourage corporate housing companies to bring back the policy in times of crisis or even update their standard operations to be more accessible to short-term travelers during regular business times.


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How Guests are Using Corporate Housing During COVID-19

Other ways corporate housing changed during the COVID-19 pandemic had nothing to do with the companies providing the corporate apartments. In fact, the guests staying in those apartments caused major shifts in corporate housing almost overnight, without even realizing it.

As the coronavirus contagion impacted the United States, travelers began to adjust the way they used their corporate apartments to include a variety of new uses to fit their needs.

Whereas in the past, travelers would often stay in an apartment together to split their nightly rates between two or three people; travelers during the coronavirus outbreak are choosing not to share an apartment with their traveling companion for fear of spreading the virus between the two.

Another way corporate apartments have been used has been as a safe space to self-quarantine while guests have waited out the required 14 days after traveling. These guests have often taken advantage of the reduced minimum stay requirements offered by corporate housing providers to stay for two weeks before moving into their permanent location.

Many guests, on the other hand, have enjoyed their stay so much they’ve chosen to extend their stay rather than adjust to another location as corporate apartments are generally well-designed for social distancing and come fully stocked with everything a guest would need to hunker in while waiting out COVID-19.

Travelers have also been avoiding the highly populated areas, which has seen suburban corporate apartments and those in smaller cities take the bulk of corporate apartment users. Since most restaurants and points of interest in downtown areas have been closed, guests have chosen to commute into town while attempting to social distance in lower population areas.


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Updated Cleaning Policies

Because of the health risks that come with traveling during the coronavirus pandemic, corporate housing providers have changed their cleaning policies to keep guests and their team members as safe as possible.

One way corporate housing companies have done this has been to halt housekeeping services while guests are in the apartment. This helps to keep both the housekeeper and guest safe during their stay.

Once the guest has departed, housekeepers are waiting to enter the corporate apartments for cleaning, often waiting for several days before going in.

By waiting to enter recently-occupied apartments, housekeepers are less-likely to be exposed to any contaminants. This helps to ensure the safety of team members as well as reduces the risk of them becoming carriers.

Instituting a waiting period after guest departures is just one way corporate housing providers are keeping corporate apartments clean and safe for guests. Get an in-depth look at everything corporate housing companies are doing to keep their apartments spotless in our blog, How Corporate Housing Companies Keep their Apartments Clean, Healthy, and Safe.”


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Corporate Housing Beyond COVID-19

As the world begins to return to normal with states dropping stay-at-home orders and people getting back to work, the travel industry is expected to begin operating again. Things will be far from normal however, and the corporate housing company is preparing for a new normal in the near future.

While this new normal includes several changes, ExecuStay Midwest's dedication to guest safety and satisfaction remains as high as it has since we opened our doors over three decades ago. This focus on guest safety includes our commitment to providing a clean, happy, and healthy temporary home.

At ExecuStay Midwest, we follow a 250-Point checklist when cleaning apartments for guest arrivals, ensuring we hit every surface to provide move-in ready spaces our residents. Check out our blog "How Corporate Housing Companies Keep their Apartments Clean, Healthy, and Safe" for an inside look into our cleaning process.

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Tags: Insider, Corporate Housing, furnished apartments, covid-19

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