A June 2016 research report by the Global Business Travel Association and American Express found that millennial travellers are much more likely to use social networking to meet up with friends (46%) and business contacts (33%) while on the road. They are also more likely than business travellers of other ages to use ride- or home-sharing services on work trips. Their behaviours, expectations and preferences have made the sharing economy mainstream and now, are set to reshape the travel industry.
lyf by Ascott
For Ascott, CapitaLand’s wholly owned business unit and one of the world’s leading international serviced residence owner-operators, what this signals is a strong desire for community. With the millennial traveller segment already making up a quarter of its global customer base and poised to grow exponentially, Ascott has created a new hospitality experience just for them.
To seize opportunities in the rising trend of co-living and co-working, lyf (say: ‘life’) is designed for and managed by millennials. Mr Lee Chee Koon, Chief Executive Officer of Ascott, explains: “lyf is a unique accommodation tailored for this demographic, including technopreneurs, start-ups and individuals from music, media and fashion. We do not define millennials by age but regard them as a social generation who craves discoveries and desires to be part of a community.”
“lyf will provide global jetsetters and trendsetters with the opportunity to ‘Live Your Freedom’ in a dynamic environment and network with like-minded creatives to bring more ideas to life. Most importantly, they can be assured of a consistent quality in products and services, given Ascott’s track record in managing award-winning properties worldwide.”
Doing away with the traditional concierge, lyf properties will be managed by lyf guards - millennials who may be residents themselves, community managers, city and food guides, barkeepers and problem solvers all rolled into one.
Each property will have a unique personality, brought out through fun and quirky design elements. There will be ‘Connect’ communal spaces — co-working areas that can be transformed into zones for peer-to-peer workshops or social gatherings — and ‘Bond’ social kitchens for residents to whip up their own meals or take a local cooking class, for example.
To field test the co-living concept, Ascott has launched its first living lab in partnership with the Singapore Management University (SMU). A sprawling 32,000 square feet lab, lyf@SMU will have co-working lounges with modular furniture, large communal tables at the social pantry with interactive voting boards, multimedia rooms to encourage collaboration and free flow of ideas, days beds and napping pods.
SMU students will be the first in the world to experience and shape upcoming lyf properties. With more than 1,200 millennials expected to visit lyf@SMU daily, Ascott will build up a sizeable data reservoir of user preferences and space usage patterns. The data will be translated into actionable insights to better tailor lyf to the needs of millennials as they prepare to become working professionals, Ascott’s main target customers of lyf.
“Creative co-innovation is a key focus for lyf, since it is designed and operated by millennials who want to influence and define their own travel experiences,” explained Mr Lee.
“The cosmopolitan city of Singapore is an ideal ground for Ascott to innovate, test-bed cutting edge hospitality concepts, and gather insights from well-travelled millennials with increasing spending power.”
Feedback from the millennial students will influence how Ascott continues to evolve the design of lyf’s social spaces. For a start, they can cast their vote for the design of the co-living concept room in lyf@SMU, with a choice of day beds, swings or even a giant hammock.
Ascott will also organise various social activities at lyf@SMU to identify those that best resonate with millennials, bringing together local artisans, entrepreneurs and technopreneurs. Students will be invited to co-create community programmes and co-organise or take part in TED talks, workshops and hackathons.
“lyf marks another milestone in Ascott’s innovation journey to design products and experiences for the future of travel. 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,” shared Mr Lee.
“As we scale up to achieve our global target of 80,000 units by 2020 through lyf and our other brands, our guests can easily take their pick from our wide-ranging portfolio across the world. We will continue to test new concepts to seize market opportunities and raise the bar in our customer experience to ensure that Ascott retains its leading edge in the industry.”
With a target to have 10,000 units under the lyf brand globally by 2020, Ascott has set its sights to roll out lyf in gateway cities of markets like Australia, China, France, Germany, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and the United Kingdom.