Apartments, Hotels, What’s the Difference!?

Sep 16, 2019 | Development, Innovation, Multifamily

The way people are living, and traveling has fundamentally changed and the lines between apartments and hotels have blurred. Guests and renters are no longer constrained by a market flooded with watered-down options and brands dictating the experience.  Today, renters and travelers have nearly endless options, catering to any experience they seek.   

I recently traveled to Nashville and I decided to test out Niido, an apartment community ‘powered by Airbnb’. It’s a traditional midrise apartment community that allows (encourages, actually) its residents to rent out their apartments seamlessly through Airbnb.

The reservation process is handled through an Airbnb ‘Masterhost’ so the resident doesn’t need to do a thing. Prior to check-in, they send keys to the various spaces in the building through the ‘Latch’ app. It’s a seamless process to access the building, but once inside, I was lost.

There was no check-in desk or concierge-like a traditional hotel. Instead, I had to wander around and find my room, which proved more challenging than expected. The experience was clunky and it felt weird wandering the halls of an apartment complex as a non-resident. It was the worst of a hotel experience combined with the worst of an apartment experience.

Despite my recent experience, the blending of apartments and hospitality is becoming increasingly common. What started as individuals renting out spare bedrooms to make a little extra money has evolved into start-ups creating large brands and challenging the incumbent hotel giants.

Brands such as Domio, Sonder, Lyric Hospitality, Mint House, The Guild, and Life House are all players in the space. Unlike Airbnb, these brands typically sign long-term leases at apartment communities. They custom design the space, tailor the experience to the city/resident and rent out the units via their proprietary marketplace. The model is akin to WeWork which provides more control over the guest experience. Unlike my experience with Niido, they provide a more seamless hotel-like process combined with apartment amenities.  

Domio – Austin, TX

This trend is primed to continue. Apartment communities now look and operate more like hotels. The focus on the guest or resident experience is a primary focus and tech-enabled tenant engagement apps such as Hello Alfred, TF Living, Equiem, Ollie, and HqO among others have made it easier for apartment operators to provide a great experience. Whether you lease a block of units to an Airbnb-style hospitality business or simply have a few guest suites, your renter is expecting a hospitality-like experience.

On the hotel side, new brands and models are beginning to look like apartments. Motto by Hilton, a “micro-hotel with an urban vibe”, is Hilton’s new lifestyle brand that offers shared rooms for group travel. The design includes modular furniture to adapt to the guest’s needs, similar to the way many new apartment units are designed.

The Bunkie – A room at Motto by Hilton

Residents today, whether it be apartment renters or travelers, want to connect with the community and neighborhood around them and it’s the job of the apartment or hotel operator to help them connect with their communities and be their best selves.