Extended-stay is a thriving segment, consistently outperforming other tiers in the United States. Loren Nalewanski, vice president and global brand manager for SpringHill Suites and TownePlace Suites by Marriott, has capitalized on the extended-stay sector’s success, making TownePlace a standout that was recognized by Forbes as one of America’s Best Franchise Brands this year. Placing eighth, TownePlace was the top-ranked hotel brand on the list. And, Nalewanski thinks extended-stay hotels—and of course, TownePlace Suites in particular—are worthy not just of Forbes’s attention, but prospective franchisees as well.
What would attract franchisees to invest in an extended-stay brand? Extended-stay in general is a higher profitability business that is better for the bottom line. Operationally, there’s not as much full turn of the house every day like in typical transient hotels. When you have an average length of stay approaching three-and-a-half days, and almost 45 percent are extended-stay business staying five nights or longer, you get to know the customer and it becomes more of a family environment. Owners love it because they’re spending more time tending to the guest.
What makes TownePlace Suites so appealing? We’ve made it so that TownePlace Suites has a relatively lower cost-to-build than our competitors. We have a really tight building, so it is very efficient. We’re not wasting space on five-acre lots of land. We can do a TownePlace Suites in just under two acres of land, with parking. The front-end investment on the real estate side is a good deal for the owner. We have purpose-built extended-stay hotels. Every suite has a full kitchen, which means every room has a cooktop installed, versus some of our competitors who bring a cooktop to the guest upon request. That’s high labor. So building those things into the model on the front end allows for a better return on the investment and better profitability.
How do you work to support franchisees? We have a franchise advisory council that consists of about 15 owners from our biggest ownership groups across all hotel generations. This group comes together to voice their opinions to me as a brand leader. From a brand growth perspective, strategically, I want to do what’s going to make you want more, buy more, and give more to the consumer.
We have account executives who serve as a liaison between operations, brand, and the owner to keep everyone in check, and a brand standard audit to evaluate the stay from a guest perspective—kind of like a secret shopper.