WhyHotel, a pop-up hotel and hospitality operator, announced it will soon be opening up two new locations. The first location will be a return to its hometown market in Washington, D.c. and the second will be in Southern Florida, an area WhyHotel hasn’t expanded into yet.
As was the case for the entire hospitality industry, 2020 was a pretty tough year for WhyHotel. The company thinks it’s beginning to see light at the end of the tunnel.
More on WhyHotel
According to its founders, WhyHotel was started "to host people in better places by blurring the line between hospitality and home." In that regard, WhyHotel’s offering is quite a bit different than the typical hotel. The company’s rental inventory is more short-term furnished apartment than it is hotel.
The fact that the hotels are pop-ups makes for an interesting model. Although WhyHotel does also have more permanent hotels, the pop-up nature allows the company to be more nimble and 'pop-up" where there is excess demand for travel and subsequent renters.
The two new pop-ups will each be around 100 units. The two locations will be in Kiley Apartments at 600 4th St. SW in Washington, D.C. and at the AMLI Midtown Miami, bringing the total number of pop-ups to 10, with plans to announce another six or so this year.
Co-Founder and CEO of WhyHotel Jason Fudin said, "Obviously, 2020 was a difficult year all around for different reasons, business and personal. For us, it reinforced the value of a business built on flexibility."
All said, WhyHotel’s occupancy at its pop-ups has stood at around 85% for the last year, which is pretty good all things considered. At the beginning of the pandemic, WhyHotel had to lay off a good portion of its hotel staff, while the company also shifted to a 14-day rental minimum. Fudin said that the majority of stays during the pandemic have been for over 30 days.
WhyHotel actually raised $20 million at the end of 2019 -- great timing for the company, as it likely meant that the company had cash in the bank to weather the pandemic storm. Now that the end is almost in sight, the WhyHotel team has big growth plans.
Gearing up for growth
WhyHotel plans on hiring 50-100 new employees. Fudin elaborated: "We’re in serious growth mode. … We have certainty in how big a market opportunity this is. We are staffing up fast, multiples of our current workforce."
Fudin is banking on hotel and travel demand to return when things go back to normal, while he added, "I do think in the next few years, between now and 2022, there is a ton of pent-up demand. It’s just going to be crazy. Things are going to be full."
The Millionacres bottom line
WhyHotel’s flexible hospitality model proved to have enough resilience to get the company through the pandemic. Even more interesting is that WhyHotel seems as if it may be nimble enough to move quickly and cash in on pent-up demand with its pop-up model. While hotels around the country and major cities like Boston will feel the wounds for a while, operators like WhyHotel are potentially poised to swoop in.