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Built into the longer-stay guest relationship is the ability to get valuable customer feedback during the stays of five or more nights — the average stay is 14 days.
While limited in number, the staff is trained to be welcoming, accommodating and to seek out ways to make guests feel at home.
Tom Bardenett, president of the Crossroads Hospitality Division of Interstate Hotels & Resorts and EVP of operations, says it’s a very unique scenario for interaction.
“It’s one of the easier segments to actually operate — you don’t have to guess at their needs, because of the length of stay you can establish a relationship with long-term guests so they continue to want to stay,” says Bardenett, whose company manages several extended-stay brands, including 10 Homewood Suites properties.
“They are a very open book, because they are there so long, that interaction allows the operator to really get to know their guests.”
It’s a good position for a segment to be able to get that valuable guest feedback, but industry players understand that there is still work to do in terms of getting the word out — improving consumer awareness and acceptance of the extended-stay product as applicable to their travels.
“We, as an industry, just haven’t done a good job telling that story,” Seddon says. “We need to introduce people to the category. If you had a choice of full kitchen why wouldn’t you take it?”
Owners share similar sentiment regarding the need for explanation to new customers.
Navin Dimond, President and CEO of Stonebridge Companies, an owner and developer of major hotel brands, including several extended-stay brands, says his sense is that the extended-stay concept is misunderstood or not understood.
“If someone knows the product they understand it, but if they are a new customer, even if it has ‘suites’ in the name, it doesn’t tell you it’s extended-stay, it doesn’t tell you about the kitchen,” he says. “It’s not as well understood as we’d like it to be.”
Dimond says it requires explaining the amenities and showing customers photographs, videos and floor plans.
“Once they see it they say they like it, but we need to make sure customers know what we offer,” he says. “Our job as a segment and a brand is to make sure we’re doing that.”
Because hotel selection is highly influenced by pricing, increased awareness of extended-stay amenities could do much to persuade value-conscious travelers. While there can be a $10 premium in a per- night comparison of room rates, travelers might not realize that extended-stay hotels offer complimentary hot breakfasts, evening receptions with a selection of snacks and of course, the full in-room kitchens that offer even more food and beverage cost savings.
A review of keyword search habits on TripAdvisor indicates that visitors to the website are finding extended-stay hotels most often by searching by hotel name, despite the fact that “kitchenette” is offered as an amenity on the major city hotel search pages. In fact, less than one percent of site visitors are searching for “kitchenette,” according to TripAdvisor data.
This suggests that most often, site visitors already know an extended-stay brand when they express interest in this type of accommodation, which does support marketing intelligence that once someone stays at an extended-stay property, they have a high satisfaction rating. However, had more visitors chosen the “kitchenette” amenity as a means of finding the product, it would suggest that visitors understand the extended-stay offering implied by a guestroom with a kitchenette.