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.

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Coming up in February 2019...

Social Media: Getting Personal

There Social media platforms have revolutionized the hotel industry. Popular sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube and Tumblr now account for 2.3 billion active users, and this phenomenon has forever transformed how businesses interact with consumers. Given that social media allows for two-way communication between businesses and consumers, the emphasis of any marketing strategy must be to positively and personally engage the customer, and there are innumerable ways to accomplish that goal. One popular strategy is to encourage hotel guests to create their own personal content - typically videos and photos -which can be shared via their personal social media networks, reaching a sizeable audience. In addition, geo-locational tags and brand hashtags can be embedded in such posts which allow them to be found via metadata searches, substantially enlarging their scope. Influencer marketing is another prevalent social media strategy. Some hotels are paying popular social media stars and bloggers to endorse their brand on social media platforms. These kinds of endorsements generally elicit a strong response because the influencers are perceived as being trustworthy by their followers, and because an influencer's followers are likely to share similar psychographic and demographic traits. Travel review sites have also become vitally important in reputation management. Travelers consistently use social media to express pleasure or frustration about their guest experiences, so it is essential that every review be attended to personally. Assuming the responsibility to address and correct customer service concerns quickly is a way to mitigate complaints and to build brand loyalty. Plus, whether reviews are favorable or unfavorable, they are a vital source of information to managers about a hotel's operational performance.  The February Hotel Business Review will document what some hotels are doing to effectively incorporate social media strategies into their businesses.