by Dan Rafter
Staying in a hotel for a week or longer can be costly for both business travelers and families. And economy hotels? Travelers are taking a risk; some of the properties in this lower-cost segment haven’t been updated in decades. And many are showing their age, with frayed carpeting, peeling wallpaper and chipped desktops.
This isn’t good enough for many of today’s travelers. Both leisure and business travelers are raising their expectations when it comes to hotels. Even those who don’t want to spend a small fortune on hotel stays expect accommodations that are clean and modern.
And this is where the Midwest-based Value Place brand hopes to make its stand.
Value Place, which is headquartered in Wichita, hopes to provide business and leisure travelers another option in the economy segment. The company, which now runs nearly 190 hotels in 32 states, fills a void in the hospitality industry, said Kelly Poling, executive vice president and chief marketing officer of the chain, by providing inexpensive long-term stays in modern, freshly built properties.
“All of our hotels are new construction,” Poling said. “That allows for a high degree of predictability. Guests know what they are going to get. It’s a consistent experience.”
This isn’t always the case in the economy-hotel segment. As Poling says, many of today’s economy hotels might have started their lives as a Holiday Inn. Then they might have converted to a Quality Inn and then a Days Inn.
“A lot of these economy hotels might be nearing the end of their life spans,” Poling said. “Many of the brands rely heavily on conversion properties. Many have hotels that have been through more than one conversion.”
Entrepreneur Jack DeBoer, unofficially known as the father of the extended-stay hotel industry after creating the Residence Inn, Summerfield Suites and Candlewood Suites brands, launched the Value Place brand in 2003 with the first property in the chain, an extended-stay hotel located in Wichita.
The chain has steadily grown. And Poling says that several factors today make this a good time to be in the economy extended-stay market.
With the economy continuing its slow but steady improvement, consumers say that they are ready to travel more frequently. But because the country’s Great Recession lasted so long and was so painful, these consumers want to travel in a more frugal way. They are looking for deals as they hit the road.
This means that economy hotels, and those offering extended stays, will play a more important role in the hotel industry, Poling say.
For instance, travelers to Value Place can cook at least some of their meals in their suites. They can also do their own laundry on the property. This can cut costs during a long vacation or business trip.
“To a much, much lesser degree, we are experiencing the same kind of mind-shift that happened to people who made it through the Great Depression,” Poling said. “If you know people who lived through that, the Great Depression impacted their spending behavior for the entirety of their lives. That generation of people is just more frugal. To a much, much lesser degree, the Great Recession is having a similar impact. That was a challenging time, and it has changed the thought processes of consumers. They are placing a higher value on every dollar that they are spending.”