Extended-Stay Brand Leans Into Drivable Vacations With 'East Coast Road Trip' Package
The pandemic has slowed long-distance tourism across the U.S., but with many families taking regional vacations by car, one hospitality company is hoping to capture demand from road trips.
AKA launched a new offering Monday called "East Coast Summer Road Trip," which includes three weeklong stays in New York, Philadelphia and D.C.
The company, which describes itself as a "luxury serviced residence brand," has fully furnished rooms with seven-day minimum stays. It decided to launch the road trip package because it saw more customers planning regional trips by car.
"The idea here was after four months of people sheltering in place and being isolated and with the summer season upon us, we're finding people are ready to piece together some kind of summer plan," AKA Chief Marketing Officer Elana Friedman said in an interview Tuesday. "New York, Philadelphia and D.C. are really perfect driving-distance locations."
The package gives customers the choice between two properties in New York, AKA Central Park and AKA Times Square; two properties in Philadelphia, AKA University City and AKA Rittenhouse Square; and one in D.C., AKA White House. Pricing for the three-week package starts around $4,500 and ranges depending on the size of the suite and the timing of the trip, Friedman said.
D.C. hotels have remained around 20% occupancy this summer, according to STR, and hotel owners told Bisnow they are largely relying on driving-distance regional travel as other forms of tourism have disappeared. One hotel owner, Frontier Development & Hospitality founder Evens Charles, said an extended-stay hotel his firm owns has remained above 40% occupancy, outperforming traditional hotels because people want to have their own kitchen space.
The AKA units have full kitchens and working areas, so Friedman said visitors can also comfortably cook and use their laptops if they need to work remotely during their stays. She said AKA's extended-stay properties have performed better than traditional hotels during the pandemic, but she declined to share its occupancy numbers.
"The longer-stay model definitely did create stability for us," she said. "We've been able to fare better than traditional hotels, as people are living with us as a home away from home."
AKA's East Coast road trip package includes an itinerary of recommended socially distanced activities, such as hiking trails, golf courses, beaches, parks and other outdoor destinations. It also includes a branded picnic blanket, water bottle and snack bag, and special parking rates.
"The itinerary includes stops along the way," she said. "It's about the journey, so the entire excursion is filled with excitement throughout."
AKA is taking extra precautions to clean its common areas and units between stays, Friedman said. She said travelers have been much more comfortable with trips they can take in their own car rather than taking a plane or train.
"If it's successful, we might turn this into a fall package with different activities and different components added to the program," Friedman said. "This is an idea that can be multiseason; we're just launching it now."