Kennedy Towers is an established serviced apartment operator in Dubai. Tell me about the history of the brand. Kennedy Towers, Dubai’s largest vacation rental management company by unit count, has evolved from one of Dubai’s oldest and most successful estate agencies, Edwards & Towers, and shares the same partners. We were the first company to get our license to do the activity when it was introduced in 2015, and we grew quickly due to our existing client base and their desire to increase their income and flexibility from their residential units.
Why was Dubai your first location of choice? It is a city we know very well; the three partners have been living in Dubai for a combined 40+ years, and as a result we have been able to establish a strong position in a relatively new sector which sits between real estate and tourism, two of Dubai’s major economic sectors. We are now keen to expand internationally; we opened our first overseas operation last year in Marbella, Spain, and this year we have opened in London.
What expertise will Kennedy Towers be bringing to the London market? We were initially drawn to London because many of our Middle Eastern clients have properties here that they wanted us to manage. Now that we are here, we have noticed that the standard of some of the existing properties in the short-term rental pool is quite low in terms of furnishing, cleaning and maintenance. We have built our business in Dubai with a background of stringent regulation from Dubai Tourism, with extremely specific standards in terms of how a property should be presented and offered to guests. We feel we can differentiate by bringing Dubai’s famous hospitality standards to London, and many of our global corporate guests who will be staying with us in London will expect us to maintain the same standards as we have in Dubai. We are therefore selective in the type of property we onboard, and look to work with landlords who understand that, if required, a little investment upfront will result in a much higher return.
What are your thoughts on interior design as a differentiator in the serviced apartment industry? Further to the above, interior design is absolutely essential in the success of a vacation rental property. As most of our bookings are taken based on photographs only, it is crucial that the property is well presented. We have minimum furnishing standards that each of our properties must have, but beyond that it is important to have the right layout and colour scheme for that particular property. We generally prefer our apartments to be as modern and neutral as possible, since our guests come from all over the world so we need to appeal to a variety of people. Compared to the overall value of the property, the furniture is such a small percentage of the investment, yet it is the area where many landlords choose to try and save cost - something that we have never understood. This is particularly the case with serviced apartments, where we have seen huge differences in the revenue for identical properties, based on the furniture alone.
Where do you see the industry going in the next 12 months, particularly now that large US VC-backed operators are making an aggressive play for the UK? It is a very exciting time for the vacation rental industry, with more and more VC money coming into the market, and players from both the traditional hotel and estate agency markets looking for exposure. However, compared to both of these sectors, the industry is still extremely small and vacation rentals make up just a fraction of the total property inventory in most cities. We therefore feel there is significant room for growth in the sector and, while Kennedy Towers is currently self-funded, we are excited to keep improving and competing as the standards are continually raised in our industry. Of course, as with most sectors, technological innovation is fundamental and we will continue to keep technology at the forefront of everything we do so we can keep adding value to both our landlords and guests.
The decision to delve into the operator market ourselves is led by a genuine excitement about working with progressive operator brands that value the substantial returns that great design can generate. If you’re an operator looking to grow in the European market and wish to work with the UK’s top-rated online interior design service, then book a demo today with our Account Director, Diana Sanni.