Graduate Hotels has always viewed itself as pillars of our community, with outreach and community engagement. From the very beginning of the pandemic, we have been focused on how we can better serve our communities and the students and their parents.
As early as April we started promoting our hotels to longer stay students who feel safer in our spaces where they have their own private bathroom rather than a dorm with shared facilities.
The demand built up slowly, and then as we got closer to the schools reopening the demand really shifted. We have seen two different segments emerging:
- Parents securing rooms specifically for their children for whole semesters
- Universities with a shortage of housing contracting directly with us
Providing a College Experience
Both parents and students have been really embracing us as an accommodation option. Interestingly, even where we have seen schools opting to deliver a fully remote educational program, we are seeing students choosing to stay in town and still have that college experience.
This has proved particularly popular with freshmen where parents are encouraging and supporting their children to stay in town and are confident in Graduate Hotels providing a safe alternative to the dorm so that they can still live out their college experience, albeit in a slightly different manner.
In locations where we have seen the schools go to remote learning, we have also seen a significant influx of requests for long-term housing.
We are dedicated to providing a safe and alternative housing solution to these students. And we are looking at different ways that we can program our hotels – our guest demographics have shifted from business travelers and people coming to football games to students staying for months at a time. So now we are asking ‘How can we better suit the students with different programs that would be more suitable to their studies and the college experience?’
Taking Revenue Back To School
We have shifted from short-stay transient guests often coming in to watch a ballgame to long-stay students. From a revenue standpoint it has been a real learning curve.
We are utilizing Duetto for pricing recommendations but there is no real history there for this segment.
Then you also have to understand the customer demographic, that they had this price point that they were going to pay for room and board in their dormitory. We have to take that into consideration.
While we always rely on the guidance of Duetto some of this is also going to take some intuition and understanding the unique nature of these demographics and environment, much more so than we ever had before.
We are effectively building the college dorms into our compset. We have to look at their pricing. And those price points are lower than what we would traditionally expect.
However, there are also some efficiencies that we gain by having people in our hotels for 90, 120 days or more, rather than checking people in and out and turning the room every day.
The students don't necessarily require a daily housekeeping service. And then there is the food and beverage contribution, because these students need a place to eat, so that is one business area that we think will have an upside.
We have always worked closely with the universities and we want to be good partners and offer them accommodation so that they can accommodate the students that they need to have in the area. If they don't have the dormitory spacing we will provide solutions for them in our hotels as an extension of the university.
It is definitely a very unique and fluid situation that we are learning from very quickly.
Discover more about the Graduate Hotels success story in our Case Study, Delivering Top Results For Graduate Hotels.