Ascott Targets Travelling Millennials with New Brand

CapitaLand’s serviced-residence business arm The Ascott is targeting millennial travellers with its new brand, Lyf – which will be ramped up to 10,000 units, or 50 properties, worldwide by 2020.

Pronounced “life”, the brand is the first to be added to The Ascott’s portfolio since it acquired the remaining 50 per cent stake in Citadines in 2004. Its two other brands are Ascott and Somerset.

According to a report by Hotels Mag, millennial travellers account for over US$200 billion in travel spend annually. Today, this segment of customers makes up 25 per cent of Ascott’s client base.

 Lee Chee Koon, Ascott’s chief executive officer, said: “We think there’s a huge demand. By creating this particular brand that’s going to be managed by millennials, with communal activities (and) co-sharing social spaces, it will really appeal to this particular group.”

The target audience is working professionals in their 20s and 30s, earning at least S$3,000 monthly.

The serviced-residence operator is in talks for potential projects and expects to announce its first Lyf property in a couple of months. “We are in various stages of discussion,” Mr Lee added.

Lyf will offer communal spaces – such as a shared kitchen and a foosball area – and co-working areas to encourage guests to socialise. The residence will feature different apartment layouts, from studios to twin rooms (two private rooms with a shared kitchen), with sizes ranging from 14-18 square metres. The price will be comparable to its Citadines properties.

Mr Lee added: “We are on the lookout for sites in key gateway cities for Lyf, and we are open to both investment and management contracts to meet the growing demand for such co-living spaces – in places including Australia, France, Germany, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, and the United Kingdom.”

The properties will offer a consistent level of service as well as activities and events to keep residents entertained – which is different from competitive offerings such as AirBnb, he pointed out. These events could include cooking classes, workshops and innovation talks.

Lyf will be managed by millennials, dubbed Lyf Guards, who will act as community managers, while also wearing other hats such as city guide and bartender.

This year, Ascott has been growing aggressively and has added about 10,000 units across its three existing brands, of which some 25 per cent are in China. It has also added properties in Vietnam, Indonesia, and the Philippines.

Travel demand will be fuelled by groups such as the middle-income segment and retirees, especially as flying becomes more affordable, thanks to expanding budget carriers, Mr Lee added. Ascott aims to boost its footprint to 80,000 units by 2020 across its brands, up from over 52,000 units today.