Industry Leader Interview with Peter Broad, Associate Director at The Alternative Accommodation Agency

  1. What are the challenges are facing your business right now, and how are you working to overcome them?

I believe the overriding challenge we are encountering right now as an accommodation supplier is the lack of hotel accommodation throughout the UK. This has been hampering our efforts to secure emergency accommodation but thankfully we have a network of short-term accommodation suppliers who are eager for any business we are able to place with them. We have, of course seen reduced levels of business recently but there is growing talk within the industry that there will be surge levels of business at some point and we will wait to see if that is the case. That will likely coincide with the reopening of hotels but we are ready for any eventuality. We at The Alternative Accommodation Agency (A3) have really worked well as a team during this most difficult time and with everyone going the extra mile to ensure the business runs as smoothly as possible, we hope our clients would agree that they have not noticed any reduction in service levels from us.

  1. What has been your biggest business learning from the coronavirus pandemic?

At A3 we have never operated a working from home policy apart from the odd day here and there. Like many companies we firmly believed that office based staff was the tried and tested way so saw no reason to deviate. I am happy to be the first to admit that we were wrong! The first few days of home working was at the time that all the hotels were closing to the public and we were having to move all of our policy holders into serviced apartment accommodation. The phones were non-stop, the emails sometimes were overwhelming but we got together as a team and succeeded. I actually had a call with a colleague on day two where I said ‘I can’t continue working from home I need to go back in the office’. Over the next few days these thoughts soon disappeared and working from home began to work well and became ‘the norm’. Our new system worked well, our phone system stood up to the call traffic extremely well. Almost three months later and we are slowly returning to the office on a part time basis limiting the number of people in the office at any one time. To be honest it’s great to be back in the office even on a part time basis but working from home has worked and will continue to work for a huge number of people in our industry and as a company we are now considering offering staff the opportunity to work from home when needed.

  1. As we go to a “new normal” what are you looking forward to returning to and practices will you keep?

As I mentioned in the previous question, we will definitely be keeping the working from home policy in some shape or form when people need it. We feel this is a great way to take some stress and anxiety away from our employees, rather than having to book annual leave for the simplest of reasons they can just have a day working from home while fitting in their appointment or looking after their children. Also with A3 now being far better aware of mental health issues we want to relieve the pressure and stress that some employees feel having to be in the office every day no matter what is happening in their home life. On the other hand, have been in the office myself recently it is great to see colleagues again face to face rather than via the zoom meetings. Catching up with everyone and finding out their experiences of ‘lockdown’ has been great but the consensus of opinion is that we succeeded when we have been tested to the greatest level and we will be better people for this whole experience.

  1. If you could go back to the beginning of 2020, what piece of advice would you give to yourself?

The main piece of advice I would give myself is just to value relationships with friends and family a whole lot more, I can honestly say I probably took them for granted before but after a couple of weeks of lockdown I soon realised how much everyone meant to me. On another note it would be to be more flexible, give things a go, open your mind….what’s the worst that could happen?

  1. What would be your prediction for the industry in 2021?

With a slow return to ‘normality’ in quarter three of 2020, I believe that 2021 will be a very busy year for all concerned in the industry and especially for A3. In many areas a catch up on claims will slowly start to occur over the next few months with the corner….which A3 are equipped and ready to handle.

With a slow return to ‘normality’ in quarter three of 2020, I believe that 2021 will be a very busy year for all concerned in the industry and especially for A3.

Peter Broad, Associate Director at The Alternative Accommodation Agency


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