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Today I am delighted to be joined by Emilia Newman. Emilia is a Digital and Social Media marketing expert who has been in the Serviced Apartment business since 2011. She currently operates 44 units across 4 prime locations in London as well as serviced suites in Birmingham NEC and Southampton.
Emilia uses her online marketing experience to attract and convert business travellers generating gross revenue of over £1,000,000 in 2016, with a projected turnover of 2.5 million in 2017. She uses her online marketing expertise to slash her guest acquisition costs to less than 9%, compared to the typical 18% as a Preferred Provider on booking.com. She is now focused on growing her brand (My City Spaces) by acquiring several block buildings to run as aparthotels with a target of 120 new units by the end of 2017.
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Emilia has become a real expert in the serviced accommodation business after starting to grow her portfolio in 2011. All of her units except one are controlled on a rent to rent basis (the other was secured on a lease option), and she only takes on fully furnished property to reduce her setup costs.
Her only expenses with each property are some expenditure for bedding and crockery, a months rent paid in advance, and a security deposit. Despite this model lowering the barriers to entry for her competition as well, Emilia isn’t concerned as she uses her marketing expertise to secure most of her bookings directly from guests and corporate clients rather than relying on sites like booking.com and AirBnB.
In terms of her favourite deal, Emilia told us about her Canary Wharf Deal. Whilst trying to negotiate the rent to rent deal she felt she lacked the credibility and experience to convince the landlord and agent to entrust the properties to her.
She persevered though and was finally able to persuade them that she was the best person to look after the units, resulting in a deal on 16 1 and 2 bedroom apartments in a prime London location and a huge boost to her portfolio.
Despite now having a very impressive business, it wasn’t always that way for Emilia. Within 3 months of operating serviced apartments she went from 1 unit to 6, then to 60, and it wasn’t long before the cracks started to show.
The systems and processes weren’t in place and she faced really problems within only a few weeks of scaling up. In order to survive she had to give back a lot of her deals so she could regroup and refocus, allowing her to come back much stronger the second time round.
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