ATLANTA—Gary Cross is hoping to help owners of economy hotels cash in on under-used space at their properties while offering quality rooms at value-oriented prices.
With the launch of InnStyle Hospitality, Cross said during last month’s Hunter Hotel Investment Conference that he wants to identify untapped potential for hotels that have average daily rates of up to $60. The economy segment through February had a year-to-date ADR of $47.93, according to STR, parent company of HotelNewsNow.com.
“The best lodging for the least possible price,” he said. “We want to give guests a $100 room for $60.”
The InnStyle Hospitality concept looks to identify untapped potential for a hotel—and that could be beyond renting rooms to guests.
“We want owners to consider the highest and best use for that product, including using some of the rooms for service-oriented business,” said Cross, InnStyle’s president and CEO. “That concept is used at the luxury level with retail space, so why not use it at the economy level?”
For example, a hotel could take unused rooms and lease that space to a tax preparer, insurance agent or a jeweler, he said.
A typical InnStyle property will have between 40 and 120 rooms. The formula calls for an owner to designate 15% to 20% of the inventory for extraordinary use beyond lodging.
“We will focus on building the brand within the individual market as each project is a standalone project,” Cross said.
The InnStyle Hospitality platform includes three types of properties:
• InnStyle Studio Suites & Mall Shops: up to 150 units that include doubles and king suites, and executive living suites for extended stays as well as retail and professional space, meeting rooms and banquet space.
• InnStyle Suites: up to 80 units that includes doubles and singles, executive living suites and meeting space.
• InnStyle Studio Point: between 15 and 150 units, including studio and boutique units.
Driving value for owners
Cross, who has spent more than 20 years in the hotel industry focusing on franchise sales, marketing and operations, said InnStyle Hospitality is primarily a marketing company that focuses on increasing the earning potential of owners. The company will operate with annual agreements, and owners will be mentored in operations and financial programs.
“We’re not here to dictate but to help them plan collectively,” Cross said.
The brand will focus on offering the lowest price available through various policies, including offering guests a 10% discount if they arrive for their reservation prior to 2 p.m. local time.
“No outside company should be able to sell our product for less than we do,” Cross said.
He said with some major franchisors looking to shed some of their room inventory and some owners looking to change their affiliation because of cost concerns, the time is right to launch a company such as InnStyle.
Cross said the first InnStyle Hospitality hotel is a 92-unit exterior corridor property in downtown Montgomery, Alabama, that will open 4 July. The company is also looking at a property near Hartsfield Airport in Atlanta as an early addition.
The brand’s objectives include providing boutique-style art deco rooms in the economy segment. “We want the hotel room to look like the guestroom in your house,” Cross said.
Cross, one of the founders of the National Association for Black Hotel Owners, Operators and Developers, plans to partner with that organization as well as other organizations in the industry.