Long-stay hotels have been around for decades, but the industry has been responding to new and evolving customer behavior. Here are five trends changing these types of properties.
1. Guests want healthy and green options.
From grocery delivery service to bikes, travelers have been asking for more from these brands. Marlon Whyte, Global Brand Leader, Element Hotels & AC Hotels by Marriott, explained that while Element already offers amenities like natural saline swimming pools, it recently refreshed its Bikes to Borrow program by proudly partnering with Priority Bicycles, an NYC-based company known for its high-quality, low maintenance bicycles.
“Custom Element Priority Bicycles are available for guest use in all Element Hotels across the U.S., free of charge, along with safety helmets,” he said. “Together, Element Hotels and Priority Bicycles promote accessible wellness and fitness and are making a healthy, balanced lifestyle more achievable for travelers.”
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“Element is also outfitting select Element fitness centers with new Life Cycle electronic stationary bikes by Life Fitness that let guests charge their phones and other digital devices as they pedal,” Whyte explained.
The following five Element properties now have all-new Infinity Series self-powered bikes: Element Boston Seaport, Element Arundel Mills (Maryland), Element Hanover-Lebanon (New Hampshire), Bozeman (Montana) and Element Basalt-Aspen (Colorado).
“We’re seeing a focus on guests’ well-being, and this can be addressed in a multitude of ways,” said Adrian Kurre, Global Head, Home2 Suites by Hilton. “For example, both Homewood Suites by Hilton and Home2 Suites by Hilton offer free breakfast with an abundance of nutritious meal choices to help guests start the day on a healthy note.”
“Our Home2 Suites by Hilton locations offer Spin2 Cycle, which is a combined fitness center and laundry area, many properties are located near walking and jogging trails, and most have a pool. At Homewood Suites by Hilton properties, there are 24-hour fitness centers, most locations also have pools, and they offer a complimentary grocery service so guests can choose to cook healthy meals in their fully equipped kitchens rather than eat out or order in. These health-conscious amenities appeal to not only the healthy leisure guest but also the business traveler who wants to maintain their balanced lifestyle while on the road,” said Kurre.
2. The manager’s social hours are evolving.
Diane Mayer, VP and Global Brand Leader for Residence Inn, TownePlace Suites, Marriott Executive Apartments and Protea Hotels, explained that these social hours were actually created to drive sales.
“The General Manager could talk to their guests: What are you doing here? Where are you from? What’s your project like? How long is it? Is everyone from your project staying here or where are they staying? Why aren’t they staying here? Let’s go get that business. Or: How’s your room? Is anything wrong? Anything I can fix? Any problems, anything I can do to make your stay better?”
“It was a really successful, very organic innovation. Then what happened was it turned into free food every night delivered by people who weren’t chefs. And it suddenly became about very value-conscious boomers, maxing their per diem and eating mediocre food.
Mayer said that when they talked to their emerging millennial targets about this, the response was they weren’t interested in free food. They like to go to new places, to bars, to restaurants—but they’re also social and want to talk to people.
“We completely revamped the program with an eye towards social, with an eye towards local and with an eye towards alcohol, not hard liquor. So much is beer and wine. And so the idea is, it’s a mix and mingle,” she said.
According to Rick Colling, Global Head, Homewood Suites by Hilton, his properties hold a complimentary Evening Reception every Monday through Thursday that continues to be a popular amenity for business and leisure travelers alike. Guests can enjoy complimentary light bites and drinks, choosing from a variety of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages.
“However, we are always looking to innovate. The F&B offerings were refreshed a few years ago and we remain in constant contact with owners, refreshing our menus with new and local touches on a regular basis,” Colling said.
“In late May, Homewood Suites by Hilton launched its Summer Grillin’ Series, where guests can enjoy great food, an ice-cold drink and fun games including Bocce Ball, Corn Hole and more in the hotels’ outdoor spaces. The events are led by the hotels’ leadership, and we give them the flexibility to plan their grill-inspired menus and activities. This series gives our team members another way to connect with guests, and ultimately solidifies guests’ participation in our Hilton Honors program as we know this personal connection helps build brand loyalty.”
3. Spaces are going flexible.
“Through our research, we learned that Element’s guests value being able to replicate their home environment while traveling, so separating their sleep and workspaces were particularly important with this new offering. We found our guests enjoy the comfort, convenience and community of a private rental with all the amenities of a hotel, hence the need and demand for our new room concept,” said Whyte.
“We’ve recognized the evolving trends of the industry and, for our 25th anniversary, we launched Take Flight,” said Hilton’s Colling. “This renovation program was designed to retrofit legacy properties with updated public spaces and suites in line with the latest contemporary design trends. It also gave owners the flexibility to determine the level of enhancements needed at their property, while ensuring the new brand standards were incorporated.
Colling said that more than 250 hotels have participated in the program to date, with the suite portion expected to be completed by the end of 2020. Through Take Flight, they introduced new brand standards for new-build properties as well, such as the addition of outdoor kitchens.
Another interesting development is with Element’s new Studio Commons concept, which combines a communal living space with four to six adjacent guest rooms.
“While most of their rooms are suites with a full kitchen, sort of the little studio apartment concept, here you’ll have the end of a floor where there will be, say, half a dozen more typical hotel rooms that all open into a shared communal space,” said Mayer.
“They’ll all open into a large living room with a larger kitchen and a dining area so that, if you’re on a guys’ college reunion weekend, you could get a bunch of hotel rooms, but then you’re also sort of isolated from each other. You could rent a house, but then you’ve got to go through all the hassle of that. Or you could get all six rooms, you could have a lockout door, and that whole communal space is yours. So, it is the best of both worlds,” she said.
“An area where we continue to grow and provide options for group travel is our multi-brand portfolio,” said Kurre. “For example, our first tri-brand property opened in Chicago’s McCormick place last August and includes a Hilton Garden Inn, Hampton Inn by Hilton and Home2 Suites by Hilton. Multi-brand properties provide varied room-types, price-points and amenity offerings all under one roof—so guests traveling in large or small groups have the convenience of staying in the same location, while still having their individual trip needs met.”
4. Tech is coming.
Colling said that a service continuing to grow is the use of personalized technology like Homewood’s Digital Key and Connected Room.
“More so than ever, guests expect certain technologic innovations to be available, and we strive to provide the offerings we know they want, along with those they haven’t yet imagined, while simultaneously utilizing these advances to automate basic transactions,” he said. “Today’s guests have fully embraced the convenience of mobile and digital technology, and we are leveraging this trend to enhance the guest experience, as well as identify and implement operational efficiencies and cost-savings for our owners. We will continue to find new ways to use innovative technologies while striking the right balance between automation and personal touch.”
5. They’re growing.
Diane said that while a third of all business travel room nights are part of a long stay (defined by five nights or more) even in North America, and even with brands like Residence Inn being around for 45 years, less than 10 percent of industry supply is purpose-built for an extended stay.
“There are a lot of people taking very dense room-night trips, and yet there’s still not a lot of products specifically designed to meet their needs,” Mayer said. “We’re still seeing more and more products come into this space. Generally speaking, over the last decade or so, the extended-stay segments have been among the fastest-growing from a development and openings perspective. And I think that that’s going to continue.”
Kurre said Home2 Suites is looking to be everywhere their guests want to stay.
“While extended stay as a concept launched in the suburbs and near airports, and as such has a strong foothold in secondary markets, the changing demographics of travelers interested in staying at an extended stay property has meant that we’ve moved into more downtown, coastal and resort locales both domestically and abroad,” he said.
“More generally, however, we have seen great opportunity in Canada due to record numbers of tourists and rising RevPAR and ADR, and collectively as the All Suites by Hilton category we recently opened our 30th property in the country. A couple of the newer openings include the Home2 Suites by Hilton Toronto Brampton, a dual-brand with Hilton Garden Inn which is proximate to the Toronto Pearson International Airport, and the Homewood Suites by Hilton Ottawa Downtown, also a dual-brand with Hilton Garden Inn, adding to our growing urban footprint.”
“Tourism is also very strong in the Caribbean and Latin America (CALA) and we are increasingly expanding there as well. Homewood Suites by Hilton, which already has several CALA locations including in the automotive business hub of Silao, Mexico, is set to make its debut in the Dominican Republic later this year as well as in Peru in the next few years.”
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