DENVER—At its first-ever virtual annual conference, RLH Corporation revealed it is entering the extended-stay arena with GuestHouse Extended Stay. Harry Sladich, EVP, lodging development & franchise operations, made the announcement to all of the connected attendees.
“GuestHouse Extended Stay has been designed for both new-builds, as well as conversion opportunities,” he said. “All of the rooms will feature a kitchenette with just 10% of that inventory required to have full kitchens. Our designers work hand in glove with our operators to ensure that this product becomes a huge success with both owners and our guests.”
He added, “Extended-stay properties fared very well during the pandemic and we feel this segment will do well as it is underrepresented in many markets. 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.”
Sladich provided some other good news. “Q1 of 2020 saw a record number of new franchising licensing agreements being signed,” he said. “Our pipeline has never been bigger, and we have a team to really move the needle as we move into 2021, and move out of this COVID situation. We’ll be deployed in key markets, and we will have compelling offers for our owners that simply cannot bear the overreaching property improvement plans and programs other large brands are going to require in these difficult and challenging times.”
The extended-stay brand wasn’t the only new offering revealed during the conference’s general session. Chris Trick, the company’s new CMO, unveiled the new RLHC website. He called it a “best-in-class website, with an improved user experience and simplified booking flow, designed to increase conversion. This new site is a major step forward, with dynamic new features and functionality aligned to all phases of the guest journey. These substantial improvements will provide the foundation for all of our marketing efforts and improve our brand-direct contribution. Our site is on schedule to launch and go live early next year.”
CEO John Russell started off the proceedings with a roar as he took off a lion-head mask. He exclaimed, “What a year this has been, by far the most challenging of my hospitality career, but also rewarding seeing our industry come together as one: brands and owners working side-by-side, and AHLA and AAHOA leading the way on Capitol Hill on our behalf. Progress is being made every day, and I do see the light at the end of the tunnel for our great hospitality industry.”
He continued, “Harry and his team got out of the gate in January, February and March with record-breaking franchise sales. It was slowed down by COVID, but picking up this month. We will onboard 34 hotels this year. We’ve developed marketing programs and executed successful digital advertising, putting more heads in beds.”
“Starting in January, we began right-sizing the company to be more efficient and effective, which was accelerated by COVID-19. Today, we are a lean-mean fighting machine,” he added, noting that the number of properties leaving the system in 2020 has greatly decreased to 22%.
For extended coverage on the launch of GuestHouse Extended Stay, check out the Nov. 15 issue of Hotel Business.