GDS providers should do more to promote their serviced apartment accommodation services, a new report has suggested. The Global Serviced Apartment Industry Report has shown a 111.2% year-on-year increase in the number of apartments for late 2009, with particular strong growths in Africa and Asia. As a result, the companies are changing the way they reach customers. “More and more apartment companies are joining the GDS because, especially for stays up to 28 nights, the booking process is not much different from a hotel room,” The Apartment Service’s Bard Vos told Travel Daily. “However the availability factor is a problem because serviced apartment blocks tend to be smaller than hotels.” The report revealed that around half of apartment operators used GDS systems to display their accommodation, but several smaller businesses would not join because of the prices. “Cost is a major factor, plus unawareness of the possibilities of the GDS,” said Vos. Travelport’s Senior Director for Hospitality and Car Rental Jane Lewis told Travel Daily that apartment capacity through its systems had grown 11% last year and more travel agents were looking to provide serviced apartment accommodation. Amadeus’ Head of Marketing Communication Rob Golledge also told Travel Daily that it anticipates a “good take-up in this area as consumer confidence returns”. This was true of both the business and leisure markets. “Although business travellers account for the vast majority of apartment stays - around 60-65% – the leisure share has been steadily growing,” Lewis revealed. Both Amadeus and Travelport insisted that operators could expect a high return on investment from joining a GDS and Golledge highlighted that help was available for small-medium businesses. This service includes a smaller distribution service with other options such as commission handling and marketing consultancy. Despite a range of cost options, Lewis agreed with Vos that apartment availability was an issue. “Vacation rental/apartments are generally shopped and booked in blocks of long stay periods ie: 7 days or more, and typically starting on a set day of the week,” she explained. “This shopping experience is different to the typical hotel shopping experience which is based on date of arrival, for fixed number of nights stay.” European, Australasian and Indian cities became some of the cheapest apartment hire locations as the pound and euro weakened against the dollar. In reverse, cities in US, China, Japan and Middle East have become more expensive. The sector said it wanted more standardisation in grading, pricing, cancellation policies and quality control.