Originally published in Arabian Business
Dubai is set to become the global branded residences capital by the end of 2019, said a recent report.
The number of branded schemes worldwide has grown by 195 percent in the last decade and there are more than 430 branded schemes globally, said the 'Branded Residences Report' from property company Savills.
At a city level, coinciding with Expo 2020, Dubai is set to overtake New York as the global branded residences capital with a pipeline of just over 20 schemes.
According to Ayesha Rashid, managing director at Dubai-based Ogilvy Consulting, branded residences are an emerging living option that hits a ‘sweet spot’ of quality accommodation, great service, with the credentials of a high-end, recognisable brand name.
“Many of us, especially in Dubai and, in fact, in any buzzing metropolis, are living busy and complex lives – so we seek hyper-convenience.
“Branded residences tend to offer more value-add over traditional living spaces with more facilities and amenities on-site,” Rashid told Arabian Business.
The Ogilvy managing director said branded residences offer a new type of reassurance and service-orientation, which is exciting and refreshing for buyers and renters.
“It feels safer for investors and offers a sense of security; it also exudes indulgence for renters and offers a sense of luxury,” she said.
Rashid speaks from personal experience having chosen to base her own home life within a Dubai branded residence.
“It is currently the perfect lifestyle choice for me,” she said.
“Branded residences feel synonymous to a serviced apartment option but with more frills, more flexibility and for the same price. The brand experience lives true to what they are known for.
“I travel a lot and having a full concierge service is super helpful. It’s convenient and hassle-free with all bills, maintenance services included,” Rashid added.
Jordan Bishop, partner at branding agency Storied, told Arabian Business that branded residences cater to an audience that moves frequently – so knowing what to expect from the brand as they move around the world comforts them.
“For example, they know that the Four Seasons Residence in Manhattan will offer the same amenities and service quality that it does in Shanghai, and that predictability is a big selling point,” Bishop said.
However, Bishop warned branded residence managers and developers to be mindful of the impact of Airbnb renters.
“With lower prices, the guest profile changes drastically. If one of your residents rents out their Four Seasons Residence for $150/night on Airbnb, that’s going to attract a very different type of guest than the guest paying $500/night for the exact same room.
“Over time, it diminishes the brand significantly, and is something developers and the brands themselves need to be aware of from day one.”
Beware the pitfalls
Abdul Samee Qureshi, managing director at Dubai-based The Adroit Agency, said attention to details is paramount when managing branded residences.
“Top quality services and amenities can be a strong plus point,” he said.
“And having a renowned brand behind the residences project gives both the end user and the investor the comfort and assurance of top quality development,” the travel branding expert said.
Qureshi said there are several pitfalls to be aware of when developing branded residences.
“Make sure that you don’t just bring a brand’s name to your development, but also bring that brand’s complete experience to your project, its values and proposition,” he said.
“Focus on discovering the differentiating factors that make your branded residences worth the investment, especially when compared to standard residences,” Qureshi added.
Plugging a market gap
Ogilvy’s Rashid noted that branded residences in Dubai tend to be in premium locations.
“So from a lifestyle perspective you can be in the heart of things – often connected to the same brand hotel,” she said.
Rashid added that branded residences resolve a market tension.
“In my opinion, in an age of relatively quick deterioration of property and the ubiquitous service challenges we may face with utilities, along with our human desire for value and convenience – branded residences resolve friction in the market,” she said.
“Plus it’s great fun, you meet lots of interesting people. It can also be as quiet and discreet as you want it to be.
"Contrary to general perception, branded residences are great for a variety of life-stages and family groups. It’s not just about the prestige at all.”