At the POD Ho­tel ground­break­ing in Washington, DC, Modus Ho­tels chair Con­rad Cafritz talks value for money and the Mil­len­nial trav­eler

Business Traveler (USA) - - INSIDE -

One on One with Modus Ho­tels chair Con­rad Cafritz. Global busi­ness travel to hit $1.25 tril­lion. Delta takes a stake in China Eastern.

Why are you bring­ing POD to DC?

CAFRITZ: This is the first mi­cro-ho­tel down­town. The room sizes will be a lit­tle bit larger than mi­cro-ho­tels in NewYork and will be about 140-150 square feet. We want peo­ple to dis­cover what mi­cro-ho­tels are and what their value en­tails.

BT: And what is that value propo­si­tion for mi­cro­ho­tels?

CAFRITZ: We wanted what we call a ki­netic at­mos­phere on the first floor and floor be­low to cre­ate a real in­ter­ac­tion be­tween the res­tau­rant, its bar, the lobby of the ho­tel and the guests. So not only will the rooms be ev­ery­thing you want and at a bet­ter price but there is go­ing to be a re­ally fun at­mos­phere on the first two floors that will carry up to the roof deck. We will have a roof deck which has great views, par­tic­u­larly to­ward the White House and the Westin. In NewYork, the oc­cu­pancy runs 85-90 per­cent and we think in Washington it’ll run 80-90 per­cent.

BT: What made you de­cide on the DC area for the POD Ho­tel?

CAFRITZ: We don’t have the same de­mand lev­els we have in NewYork per se, but we can build a bet­ter prod­uct in DC be­cause con­struc­tion costs are con­sid­er­ably less. So the in­te­ri­ors will be bet­ter than the typ­i­cal NewYork scene or as good as a much higher priced prod­uct in NewYork.

BT: Part of your strat­egy is to draw visi­tors from NewYork to DC. What’s the think­ing be­hind that?

CAFRITZ: It’s easy to come here. The restau­rants are less ex­pen­sive, the mu­se­ums are free and you can bike any­where easily, so it’s a real al­ter­na­tive to NewYork. New York has 10 mil­lion for­eign visi­tors, while 1.6 mil­lion or 1.7 mil­lion of them come to DC. It is one way that for­eign visi­tors can get a bet­ter value from com­ing to NewYork for 3 days and ex­tend­ing their stay to DC for 3 days for the price of 4 days in NewYork. So we think for­eign trav­el­ers, a big seg­ment of the NewYork mar­ket, will even­tu­ally re­al­ize that the eas­i­est other city to go to is DC.

BT: How does the POD ap­peal to the new gen­er­a­tion of trav­el­ers?

CAFRITZ: Ba­si­cally the Mil­len­ni­als don’t want just a room. They want the ho­tel to feel un­branded and our guests are non-brand peo­ple more of­ten than not. They are break­ing away from brands and say­ing “I want an in­di­vid­u­al­ized ex­pe­ri­ence.”They are brave and bold enough that they’re go­ing to break away from that. They will take a smaller com­pact room but they want ac­tiv­ity on the first floor and ac­tiv­ity on the roof deck. The POD is do­ing it at Lex­ing­ton and 39th in NewYork and we ex­pect it to be do­ing the same thing here. And 7th street is as hot as a fire­cracker.

BT: What is the com­pet­i­tive land­scape in Washington for you?

CAFRITZ: We are man­ag­ing the only other mi­cro-ho­tel that will be in Washington for 2016 – 2017 called the Hive in Foggy Bot­tom. So for a while there is not go­ing to be any­thing that’s com­pet­i­tive. The Hive will open March 2016 and the POD will open in Septem­ber 2016. Modus ho­tels will also be op­er­at­ing seven other ho­tels in Washington, DC. For ex­am­ple at Av­enue Suites, we have the largest rooms at Georgetown. Modus is op­er­at­ing the big­gest rooms in the city and will soon be op­er­at­ing the small­est rooms in the city, and they are dif­fer­ent mar­ket niches.

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