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From Vacant Apartments To Pop-Up Hotels: These Startups Are Betting On Hospitality

Though home-sharing companies like Airbnb have benefited homeowners looking to make some extra cash, they have been a major disruptor in the hotel sector and have some critics worried apartment owners will begin to use them for short-term rentals, further squeezing the hospitality industry.


Bucking those concerns, some startups are betting on apartment owners doing just that: converting vacant units into pop-up hotel rooms. For example, WhyHotel in Arlington, Virginia, and in Miami have a similar business model. The two aim to convert apartment units or entire buildings into pop-up hotels, boosting revenues for landlords and increasing their chances of finding full-time residents, the Wall Street Journal reports.

The companies are not just renting empty rooms. Some have customer service elements like a front desk and maid services, while others have designers that decorate and prepare the rooms for temporary use. San Francisco’s Pillow Residential, a platform that allows landlords to track which units in their buildings are being rented to Airbnb guests, recently raised $13.5M in funding in June. 

These pop-up rental companies are gaining momentum as the multifamily sector cools. Massive levels of apartment supply are expected to hit later this year, keeping investors on their toes as they wait to see how supply, most of which is high-end Class-A units, will impact demand going forward.