New life for extended-stay hotels
Thursday, September 24, 2015
Extended-stay hotels are experiencing a resurgence in popularity. A lot of it stems from the direct hit the industry has taken from trends like Airbnb. But more than anything, these hotels have realized how they can fill the wide gap between the rented apartments and luxury hotels by simply upgrading themselves.
There is a specific target market, a customer segment to which they can cater and boost revenue. Extended-stay hotels were once considered drab and low-quality, but they are quickly becoming trendy places to stay thanks to extensive makeovers.
For example, Hilton recently announced a five-story Home2 Suites in downtown Columbus, Ohio, which will also have retail and restaurant space on the ground floor along with its quality extended-stay options.
As many industry experts have pointed out, the rising stardom of Airbnb has opened up immense possibilities in the market. It has also brought to the forefront the yawning gap that exists in the hotel industry, a gap that apartment rental sites like Airbnb have taken advantage of.
By offering quality stays at extremely affordable prices, apartment rentals have managed to snag a huge portion of hotel customers almost overnight. Even those who can afford a hotel stay will now consider all options as opposed to simply booking a hotel room.
This is even truer of expensive tourist locations like New York or Los Angeles, where renting an apartment could mean staying in the heart of the city. This wasn't possible a few years ago without spending a fortune.
Convenience and cost aside, these apartments have also played the comfort card for snagging more travelers. Those who travel for long stretches prefer the cozy, home-like feel of the apartment over the drab and characterless hotel room. The latter qualities have been true of extended-stay hotels for a long time.
But extended-stay hotels still have a role to play and many advantages to offer that travelers cannot get in rental apartments. Service is still a coveted feature, and that's something the major hospitality chains excel in.
Now major hotel chains like Starwood, Hyatt, Hilton and Marriott are modernizing and upgrading their extended-stay properties. In fact, one can find the entire model changing to successfully compete with Airbnb and similar brands.
Instead of being synonymous with barren rooms in lifeless suburbs, they are going to sport lobbies that look like living rooms, more modern and chic guest room design, pantries stocked with gourmet options, evening social hours for guests along with organized activities, lobbies that will double as a work space and bar, and plush outdoor lounges to relax in at the end of a long day.
There will be better in-house gyms with even personal trainers in some, to attract the younger crowd. The newer properties will be located at more hip urban spots along with these amenities to make every guest's extended stay more interesting.
But the change is not just in the upgrading of the older brands and properties. The more interesting piece of news are the new-generation, Instagram-ready extended-stay hotels.
Roost Apartment Hotel in Philadelphia, for example, has made major waves ever since it started operations with its Nordic-chic minimalist décor. A comfortable longer-term accommodation option, it combines the homey comfort of an Airbnb apartment with the advantages of a hotel stay. Guests can enjoy the luxury amenities and service along with the roominess and comfort of a home stay.
But more than anything, these new extended-stay hotels are the products of the millennial minds that offer features like bike-share programs, Apple TV, Bosch dishwashers for guest use, in-room coffee makers and even a rooftop gym.
Soon these properties will be sporting specialty restaurants, coffee-and-wine bars and trendy lounges as well. Another brand that is fast coming up in this category is AKA, luxury condominiums and penthouses with in-suite dining and valet laundering like hotels, along with doormen and maintenance services like premier apartments.
AKA has partnered with local museums, galleries and upscale wine stores to offer varied entertainment for their guests. While rates vary by location, they also have the unique concept called option to buy for guests who frequently travel to certain places.
The trendy Redbury is another new name that offers long-term or short-term stay in a warm and Bohemian atmosphere. The deliberate old-world charm is meant to comfort and lure in guests with signatures rooms and even little touches like vinyl collections in them.
In the last 10 years, the number of extended-stay rooms has gone up from 200,000 in 2001 to nearly 380,000 in 2015, in the U.S. This shows there is a specific demand for this segment from customers who are looking at long-term and affordable stays. The fact they turned to apartments also show they value the benefits offered along with the homey feeling they received there, as opposed to the depression drabness of these generic mid-segment hotels.
The makeover hotels from the leading chains as well as the new-generation apartment hotels mentioned above are looking to change the balance. They are trendier alternatives to more traditional corporate long-term hotels and a more convenient option than rental apartments.
These extended-stay hotels offer guests entertainment, chic social spaces as well as sense of community for as long as they stay.
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