The founder of a start-up apartment management company is to introduce and deliver closing comments at a dedicated corporate travel buyer and supplier forum at next week’s Serviced Apartment Summit Europe in London.

Jo Layton officially launched CAP Worldwide Serviced Apartments earlier this month, and will welcome up to 60 buyers at the summit, which takes place 1-2 July.

She will also host a roundtable on 2 July, entitled “Live availability for cross selling each other’s products – does it exist in reality?” Speaking to BBT ahead of the event, which is being held at Park Plaza Westminster Bridge, Layton said “honesty” was a key topic in this particular sector of business travel.

“The biggest challenge is about having clarity and being honest about whether you can provide 100% online availability. Suppliers need to upload inventory to ensure online availability and, much like booking meeting space online, the caveats of the booking can make this challenging. If you can book an apartment online, you could potentially be paying more than you should for stays over seven nights, as the length of stay is not always factored into the rate when booking online,” she said.

Layton describes her new venture as an AMC – or apartment management company – and says the company aims to help buyers overcome “fear” of booking long-stay programmes. “So many corporates are frightened to get into the long-stay space. It can be fuzzy – there’s the legal side, leases, you’ve got more risk. If corporates speak to us, they get a much better lay of the land,” she said.

She added CAP Worldwide would differentiate itself from rivals by offering a “robust customer service”. “Do you want happy people, or just the savings? Our biggest word is ‘why’? I want everyone in the team to question things. We are focused on building and delivering corporate programmes. The future’s really bright, and our culture is a huge focus.”

Meanwhile, Layton is talking to the GBTA around possible educational sessions at the organisation’s Evolve conference in Munich in November – and talking to various trade bodies about partnerships.

Tickets are still available for the Serviced Apartment Summit, where other sessions include: a debate on “What’s wrong and right with the RFP, and is it time for disruption?”, hosted by Carol Neil of Fidelity International; a “Battle of the accommodation providers”, moderated by regular BBT contributor Catherine Chetwynd; and a session on “The future of reporting tools for the alternative accommodation space”, led by sherry Marks of Investec Asset Management.

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