Two Dark Horses Have Emerged In the Coming Competition Between Multi-family Apartments and Extended-

By William A. Brewer III Managing Partner, Bickel & Brewer | January 14, 2010

In One Corner: Extended-stay Hotels Are All Grown Up, Attracting the Business Traveler and Becoming Upscale Alternative Accommodations

Modest Beginnings

Extended-stay hotels have come a long way. In the eighties, these alternative economy accommodations catered to families and budget travelers in off-the-beaten-track locales. From the start, Extended-stay hotels became popular by providing travelers with a home-away-from-home experience. Amenities like kitchenettes and laundry facilities at discounted rates allowed travelers to save on food and other expenses during their extended stay. This feature, as well as increased quality and emerging upscale property offerings, have made Extended-stay hotels as popular as ever, even in a challenging economy. In fact, while amenities vary depending on the property, this rapidly growing segment of the lodging industry still shows no sign of slowing down.

Gaining Popularity and Attracting the Business Traveler

In 2007, nearly three-quarters of all hotel guests were away from home on business. Extended-stay hotels are attracting these business travelers, with Extended-stay hotel guests increasing rapidly, especially among mid-price and upscale properties in targeted markets with strong Extended-stay demand. Cities with a significant transient element account for the highest number of Extended-stay hotel rooms with Atlanta leading the U.S. Extended-stay market followed by Houston and Washington, D.C.

This guest segment sees a home-away-from-home experience as a welcome change to the standard business hotel. The increase in popularity has resulted in improvements in quality and amenities. Many budget hotel chains have entered the Extended-stay arena. Choice Hotels International, franchisors for name brands like Comfort Inn and Quality Inn, have opened Extended-stay properties. In addition, the more upscale element hotels, Westin's newly unveiled eco-conscious chain, are ensconced in the suburbs of several busy business hubs where demand for Extended-stay hotels have grown in recent years.

Coming up in February 2018...

Social Media: Engagement is Key

There are currently 2.3 billion active users of social media networks and savvy hotel operators have incorporated social media into their marketing mix. There are a few Goliath channels on which one must have a presence (Facebook & Twitter) but there are also several newer upstart channels (Instagram, Snapchat &WeChat, for example) that merit consideration. With its 1.86 billion users, Facebook is a dominant platform where operators can drive brand awareness, facilitate bookings, offer incentives and collect sought-after reviews. Twitter's 284 million users generate 500 million tweets per day, and operators can use its platform for lead generation, building loyalty, and guest interaction. Instagram was originally a small photo-sharing site but it has blown up into a massive photo and video channel. The site can be used to post photos of the hotel property, as well as creating Instagram Stories - personal videos that disappear from the channel after 24 hours. In this regard, Instagram and Snapchat are now in direct competition. WeChat is a Chinese company whose aim is to be the App for Everything - instant messaging, social media, shopping and payment services - all in a single platform. In addition to these channels, blogging continues to be a popular method to establish leadership, enhance reputations, and engage with customers in a direct and personal way. The key to effective use of all social media is to find out where your customers are and then, to the fullest extent possible, engage with them on a personal level. This engagement is what creates a personal connection and sustains brand loyalty. The February Hotel Business Review will explore these issues and examine how some hotels are successfully integrating social media into their operations.