[Alvin Brickman for Metrosetter Wire]
The Wire Interview is a continuing series of interviews with players in the corporate housing industry.
This week, we spoke with Terry Flahive, President of Princeton Properties. Princeton Properties offers exceptional apartment homes and fully furnished corporate housing for rent throughout Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Maine. In this interview, Mr. Flahive speaks about Princeton Properties’ anticipation of a solid rebound in the demand for furnished rentals, and the benefits of having flexibility and control over the company’s product.
Can you give a brief description of what your company does and why it is unique in the marketplace?
Princeton Properties has been providing corporate furnished apartments in the greater Boston area, southern New Hampshire, and Maine for more than 30 years. We have a long history in the business.
Besides our history, Princeton has an advantage of owning and managing the locations where we book our corporate guests to stay. While most furnished companies place their guests in apartments owned and managed by others, Princeton ownership allows for greater management control and improved customer service with faster responses to any issue.
What challenges do furnished rental businesses face?
During the recent national economic slowdown, companies have cut back on their relocation and special projects, negatively impacting furnished housing. However, we are bullish about the future and do anticipate a solid rebound in demand.
One of the biggest challenges facing most corporate housing providers (not Princeton, as we own all of our communities) is the ability to secure inventory at an affordable rental rate. At present, rents are escalating in our market and there is very little vacancy. The current economic climate has been positive for the multifamily housing business, driving unfurnished apartment rents and significantly reducing vacancy; fewer people are buying houses and the demand for rental units has surged.
How cost-conscious are your clients?
Everyone is cost-conscious today and wants to make sure that they receive a fair value. In the automotive business, for comparison, there are buyers for high-end luxury vehicles and there are buyers for economy cars — but regardless of price point, everyone wants value for their purchase. The same can be said of our clients.
Princeton, again, since it owns its communities, can offer a range of pricing and products. We have the flexibility to create a product that gives the consumer exactly what they need. In all cases, value is the key.
How much of your business is from (1) independent travelers, (2) corporations and other companies, (3) relocation companies or services, and (4) booking agencies like Nomad and Travelers Haven?
Half of our business is from relocation firms or third parties such as Nomad and Travelers Haven. The balance is from local-area companies working directly with Princeton.
What is the optimal experience you want your clients to have?
Princeton Properties wants all of our guests to say “It was so nice; we wish it wasn’t temporary.” We strive to ensure that all of our guests are fully satisfied with our services and that they would gladly stay in another Princeton community in the future.
As Princeton continues to grow, either by purchasing existing communities or buildings from the ground up, we will offer a percentage of corporate furnished apartments within our newly acquired communities. We believe in the program.
What is the average stay of your renters? Do your renters stay less than 30 days?
Our average stay is 60+ days and the minimum length of stay is 30 days.
What do you like to call your short-term renters/corporate housing clients?
The companies or third parties are referred to as “clients,” and the people staying in our corporate furnished apartments are referred to as “residents” or “guests.”
How do you refer to your units? Do you refer to them as corporate rentals or furnished residences?
We call our units “corporate furnished apartments” or “corporate housing.”
How do you use the Internet to promote your business?
The Internet is very important for promotion. We need our message to be where people are looking. As the Internet continues to dominate the search process, clients from all over the country (and the world) can readily find our company’s information through our well-placed online advertising, Google Adwords, and SEO strategies. Princeton utilizes, additionally, social sites such as LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and Google+ to promote our corporate furnished apartments.