In the spring of 2023, Hilton Honors announced the details of a new apartment-style extended stay brand (which seems to be all the rage for hotel groups nowadays). Well, Hilton has finally gotten around to naming the brand, and it’ll be known as LivSmart Studios by Hilton. Let’s go over the details of Hilton’s 22nd hotel brand.
In this post:
Hilton details new extended stay hotel brand
Hilton’s new extended stay brand will be named LivSmart Studios by Hilton, and it’s expected to launch in the United States in the near future. The company claims that there are 350 deals in various stages of negotiation (I wouldn’t read too much into that). Construction has started on the first property, in Kokomo, Indiana.
Hilton describes this as a lower midscale, extended stay solution, intended primarily for guests who want to stay for 20 or more nights. It’s intended to meet the needs of the rapidly expanding $300 billion workforce travel market, including for travel nurses, military personnel, and those experiencing workforce relocations. For those kinds of guests, Hilton is promising a brand that offers a reliable home base that allows them to maintain their routines while delivering simplicity, consistency, and convenience.
So, what features will these limited service properties offer? Hilton highlights how there will be three main brand elements, comprised of:
- Deliberate Design: Long-stay guests will be welcomed by the hotel’s inviting exterior of warm wood tones and a modern farmhouse-inspired palette with light industrial touches. Properties will also feature outdoor patios outfitted with grills, a communal fire pit and comfortable seating to make it truly feel like home.
- Spacious Studio Apartment-Style Accommodations: The adaptable layout of the thoughtfully crafted suites will provide comfort and functionality. Each room will feature spacious bathrooms, ample storage space, efficient closet design, and movable, multi-purpose furniture that allows guests to utilize the space as a place to work and rest. The kitchen area is also especially important to long-stay travelers and will include a fully equipped kitchen with a full-sized refrigerator, dishwasher, microwave, two-burner stovetop and more.
- Nontraditional Lobby Experience: The brand’s hyper-functional lobby allows sight lines from the front desk to the fitness and laundry areas, as well as a simple retail market, creating a safe and welcoming environment for long-stay guests looking to grab a great cup of coffee, fit in a workout or start their laundry.
What Hilton’s new hotel brand means for owners
It’s worth keeping in mind that new hotel brands are really created for hotel owners, and us guests are just the product. So what is Hilton promising investors about the new LivSmart Studios by Hilton concept?
LivSmart Studios by Hilton is described as an exciting investment opportunity for developers looking to diversify their portfolio under the Hilton brand name. Hilton highlights that:
- The new brand prototype dedicates the majority of space to revenue-generating guest rooms, reducing overhead costs
- Through Hilton’s best-in-class commercial engine, owners will have access to above-property revenue management and sales support that will streamline on-property staffing needs, including with digital check-in, digital keys, and more
Here’s how Isaac Lake, brand leader for LivSmart Studios by Hilton, describes the new brand:
“After much anticipation, we’re thrilled to announce that LivSmart Studios by Hilton is official. With a resilient $300 billion workforce travel market, the extended-stay segment continues to grow. It has never been as primed as it is now for this long-stay brand, and we’re thrilled with the initial excitement we’ve received from owners.”
My take on Hilton’s new extended stay brand
First of all, while most hotel brands have been doing quite a bit of cost cutting since the start of the pandemic when it comes to the guest experience, it’s interesting the extent to which Hilton’s CEO has been vocal about this. Nassetta has been clear that many hotel service cuts are permanent. As he explained in April 2021:
“The work we’re doing right now in every one of our brands is about making them higher-margin businesses and creating more labor efficiencies, particularly in the areas of housekeeping, food and beverage, and other areas. When we get out of the crisis, those businesses will be higher margin and require less labor than they did pre-Covid.”
So it’s not surprising to see the continued focus on brands that tick all of those boxes, of having labor efficiencies, and more. I can’t blame Hilton, as a publicly traded company looking to maximize shareholder value. At the same time, I wish we’d see Hilton focus on creating a more robust portfolio of lifestyle brands, since it’s an area where Hilton could do better, in my opinion.
Next, I find it interesting that the hope is that this brand will have an average length of stay of 20-30 nights, compared to significantly less than that for existing extended stay brands. What exactly is different about this brand compared to other extended stay brands, other than the desire for guests to stay longer?
Will the hotels only be bookable with a certain minimum stay? There’s nothing about the amenities of these hotels that seem to differentiate them otherwise, perhaps except them being a bit lower end than current existing options. Conversely, people can nowadays book homes and apartments by the night (through companies like Airbnb), so I’m not sure it’s so easy to target guests in this way.
Along those lines, will full points and elite nights be awarded for this brand? Given the average length of stay that Hilton anticipates, this might just be the brand with the highest concentration of Hilton Honors Diamond members. 😉
There are currently a lot of hotel brands that are referred to as extended stay (we’ve seen both Hyatt and Marriott launch new ones recently as well). In reality, that just means they don’t offer many services, and that rooms are large and have kitchenettes. There hasn’t actually been much innovation in this sector, so I’m curious if Hilton can create something that actually encourages people to stay for an extended period of time, as I don’t think that’s something that’s currently done very well.
In theory it would be innovative if Hilton actually created a brand that could compete with apartments for longer stays, but I don’t see anything that really differentiates these hotels in that regard. Maybe it will just come down to pricing?
Hilton has announced more details about LivSmart Studios by Hilton, which is the company’s new extended stay brand that will be lower end than any of Hilton’s existing brands. Hilton is targeting guests who stay 20+ nights, and will offer apartment-style accommodations. I’m curious to see how this all plays out…
What do you make of Hilton’s new extended stay concept?