HALIFAX — The new RLH Corporation extended stay brand unveiled at their conference recently has potential in Canada, according to Kris Crundwell, AVP franchise development, Canada.
RLHC has a modest footprint right now in Canada with its Select Service Brands, Canadas Best Value Inn and Knights Inn, and upscale Red Lion Inn & Suites, said Crundwell. Those brands have shown strength as conversion brands pre-COVID19 — RLHC experienced a Q1 2020 that tripled 2019. The company also has a strong pipeline for 2021/22.
At the company’s first-ever virtual conference, RLHC’s Harry Sladich, EVP of lodging development and franchise operations, announced that RLHC would be entering the extended stay arena with GuestHouse extended stay. RLHC has relaunched GuestHouse International as GuestHouse Extended Stay, targeting its efforts to meet the demand for longer-term stays with an upper-economy offering ideally suited for conversions. The concept will feature streamlined housekeeping services, community-centric guest amenities, and right-sized brand standards designed to maximize owner return on investment.
“Canada has shown for years now that extended stay brands thrive, and compliment upscale brands,” Crundwell told CLN. “Red Lion Hotels Corporation is excited to now present to owners a conversion brand in the extended stay segment for those selected properties to quickly take advantage of the demand without having to wait for completion of a new build and costly PIPs.”
“Extended-stay properties fared very well during the pandemic and we feel this segment will do well as it is underrepresented in many markets,” said Sladich. “This new brand offering will add to the continued growth of our footprint, and I am happy to say that we have several new-build deals underway.”
RLHC acquired GuestHouse International in 2015 for $8.5 million. GuestHouse was a 73-unit Seattle-based chain at that time.
The reinvented brand concept for GuestHouse features “streamlined housekeeping services, community-centric guest amenities and right-sized brand standards designed to maximize owner return on investment,” according to a company release, and development focus will centre on “communities where the extended-stay product is underrepresented, particularly within major metropolitan areas.”
“Despite the extraordinary drop in travel demand our industry is experiencing due to the pandemic, one hotel segment continues to perform significantly better under pressure, and that is extended stay,” said John Russell, CEO of RLH Corporation. Given the statistics, along with the need for extended stay hotels from groups such as construction crews, essential workers, corporate training candidates and families with long-term medical treatments, Russell said, “we had a major opportunity to transform our GuestHouse brand into an upper-economy extended stay model set up for future success due to the resilient nature of the segment.”
Featuring low flat fees that let owners keep more of what they earn, GuestHouse Extended Stay incorporates an owner-first mindset with flexible property improvement plans and brand requirements. GuestHouse Extended Stay properties will include a minimum of 10 per cent of rooms with full kitchenettes with the remaining guestrooms having modified mini kitchenettes, making conversions from non-extended stay or suites concepts achievable for nearly all properties. Through modular guestroom upgrade options created by RLHC and attractive vendor pricing, owners will face minimum downtime and conversion costs.
The brand’s impactful and cost-effective room packages feature a crisp, contemporary feel suitable for any environment, blackout modern window treatments, refreshed art packages, a dining table that can be used for working and eating, and one soft seating element for extra comfort during long stays.
Each GuestHouse Extended Stay will feature an in-lobby marketplace with fresh snacks and beverages and a food delivery partnership through a major meal delivery service. “Comforts of Home” amenities will be available, including optional complimentary bikes, board games, and blenders for guest use. All GuestHouse Extended Stay properties will offer laundry facilities at no charge to guests and will encourage guests to keep their routine with an onsite gym or complimentary passes to a local gym.
Not only is the demand for extended stay hotels high with travellers, but demand is also high for hotel owners and developers. With six new build opportunities and 15 conversion prospects in the pipeline in areas such as southeast Texas, Arizona, Florida, and Washington state, the company is enthusiastic about the numerous opportunities on the horizon.
“We want to give hotels owners an opportunity to step out and differentiate themselves within their markets and be successful with an innovative, adaptable, and conversion-friendly extended stay model,” said Sladich. The company plans to identify communities where the extended stay product is underrepresented, particularly within major metropolitan areas, and welcomes interest from all owners looking for an alternative to garner not only an increased market share, but higher RevPAR.
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