I wrote this for Dream Properties Ltd website, first published on 18 June 2013
One of our biggest requests here at Dream Properties comes from international travellers or resident families of international travellers looking for temporary housing for the length of their stay in Kenya. In our years offering these services, and getting feedback from different sources, we’ve learnt a couple of things that you may find helpful.
Do your research. Most people who stay in serviced apartments reside in rooms prepaid by their employers as part of a work trip but, it does you good to check the place out beforehand or arrange your own accommodation because you might be looking for a “home away from home”, only to find it’s quite the opposite. Ask your company to hire a professional real estate firm (such as this one) who will do the leg work for you, sometimes even taking pictures for your approval and looking for the best deal for you. Some things you might want to be pre-aware of are: Is the room on the ground floor? If so, is it a reasonable distance from the main gate &/or parking lot?
Safety & Security: These apartments are normally located on the outskirts of the CBD away from the hustle and bustle of the city centre. It’s good to get details such as the entrance and exit points, information on procedures in the event of an emergency, printed details of how to summon the assistance of emergency services, ask your realtor if there’s an adequate level of lighting for safety and comfort in all public areas, including sufficient light on stairways and landings.
Get value for your money. It’s tricky for visitors to find affordable mid-range price and quality accommodations especially because most of the apartments you would find doing your research online seem to be a little steeply priced, but don’t be disheartened, travelling to Nairobi affordably is very possible (Also remember, we are here to help you find the absolute gems just waiting to be discovered)
For Owners of Serviced Apartments, my piece of advice is to keep it simple.
- Make sure the room smells nice, keep the windows open before their arrival, get some air freshener or light a candle. This is one of the 1st things that will decide of the guest will be a one-off or loyal customer.
- Make sure the room is painted in bright, homey colours. This affects the mood and general appeal of the guest.
- Leave the cheap motel décor to cheap motels. One example; no mirror on the ceiling over the bed!
- Regardless of the size of the bathroom, make sure it’s clean, the shower curtain is clean and effective (i.e. No water spilling all over the floor) and bright. A mirror is also great.
- Tell the guest about any amenities you offer as soon as they check in. If there’s a pool, sell that, if there’s a welcome basket, either hand it to them as they arrive or leave it in their rooms, don’t deliver it the next day.
- Organize the services. It’s not a good experience to have the maid banging on a guest’s door to see if the room was occupied at 6 a.m.
- Develop feedback mechanisms: a guest book, a dedicated customer service representative etc. All these tools would give a guest an adequate sense of security especially since they’ll know where and to whom they can address any issues.