At a recent media roundtable, top executives from Choice Hotels International, Inc., explained how current and prospective owners can enter the red-hot extended-stay segment, which includes the ability to convert standard hotel rooms into extended-stay “studios” with the addition of a proprietary “kitchen-in-a-box.” The speakers who announced the relaunch of Choice’s legacy Suburban Extended Stay brand into Suburban Studio were: Pat Pacious, president and CEO; Ron Burgett, senior vice president, franchise development, extended stay; and Anna Scozzafava, vice president and general manager, extended stay.
What exactly is Suburban Studios?
Pacious: Suburban Studios is a re-brand of our legacy economy-sector Suburban Extended Stay Hotel brand, which we added to our portfolio nearly two decades ago to fill an emerging need in the industry then for hotel owners and longer-staying guests. This next-generation product not only refreshes the brand with a new name and visual identity, it offers a quick, low-cost way for owners of existing transient hotels to reposition those assets into economy, extended-stay hotels with the addition of our innovative kitchen-in-a-box.
Burgett: What this purpose-built kitchen means is that owners of traditional hotels that wanted to enter the extended-stay business but didn’t have the room can now capture some of that demand.
Scozzafava: Beyond the kitchen, Suburban Studios has a more modern, welcoming look and feel that appeals to the needs and preferences of today’s and tomorrow’s guests, with an atmosphere, services, and amenities that are optimized for the long-term extended-stay guest. Guests have access to free high-speed internet, 24/7 laundry facilities, and bi-weekly housekeeping. Also reflective of the Suburban Studios mission is this tagline: “Longer Stays Made Easy.” With Suburban Studios, our team developed an efficient operating model to help keep these hotels easy and affordable to run. In addition to the kitchen-in-a-box design, there are modular building options to streamline the repositioning process.
Why is Suburban Studios being introduced now?
Pacious: Today, the travel landscape has evolved with demand for extended-stay products at an all-time high, so this introduction aligns with our commitment to innovating new ways to drive value for our franchisees and guests. The modernization of Suburban further signals that the brand is poised for growth, and that Choice is dedicated to expanding its foothold in the extended-stay segment with the best investment opportunity for franchisees and experience for guests.
Burgett: Choice always tries to read the market early to see where guests are going and find ways to get ahead of the demand curve, as well as to take advantage of opportunities that present. For many reasons—including the rising cost of land, the stability of the extended-stay market, and the disparity between demand for standard versus that for extended-stay rooms—we see now as a good time to reposition an existing asset to compete in a very hot market. Really, it doesn’t take a brain surgeon to figure out that we should be playing more in this market; but it does take a brain surgeon to figure out how to play in this market. And that’s really why we spent a lot of time putting together our kitchen in a box. We see this move as a significant runway for growth.
What kind of support is there for owners and developers?
Burgett: One of the things I’m most excited about is our launch of an extended-stay division within Choice. From national sales to operations to development, and everything in between, it is focused specifically on extended stay needs and otherwise making sure we can capture that demand. It includes operational, training, marketing, and technology programs, plus tools and resources tailored to the unique aspects of extended stay.
Scozzafava: Suburban Studios owners automatically become part of the Choice extended-stay family, which includes our dedicated team of seasoned extended-stay professionals. That’s where we really get to share the secret sauce of our profitability: dedicated resources from regional area directors, sales training, quality assurance, and brand support that are exclusively focused on our extended-stay hotels and their success.
What is the progress of the rollout of Suburban Studios?
Pacious: The Choice portfolio now includes 70 Suburban Extended Stay properties with plans to open the first Suburban Studios hotel in Chicago later this year. In addition, more than 27 Suburban Studio hotels are in the development pipeline.