Tim Cromwell Cromwell: “With an emphasis on vibrant communal space, style and economic value, microhotels appeal to today’s social traveler.”

NEWPORT BEACH, CA—The hospitality industry has recognized an opportunity to appeal to Millennials and go further with the existing trends of improved hotel amenities without raising rates by simplifying individual guestrooms, R.D. Olson’s EVP Tim Cromwell tells GlobeSt.com. Some are calling this new combination of small rooms and lively common areas “the microhotel.” We sat down for an exclusive interview with Cromwell about the microhotel trend, which brands are adopting it and where it could lead.

GlobeSt.com: What makes the “microhotel” attractive to Millennials?

Cromwell: Hotel brands and developers are trading spacious or luxurious guestrooms for common areas that foster community. With an emphasis on vibrant communal space, style and economic value, microhotels appeal to today’s social traveler. Millennial-friendly amenities include large common areas, free WiFi, breakfast, and smaller guestrooms to encourage socializing and use of the property’s common areas.

Moxy bed Marriott’s Moxy brand offers 183-square-foot standard rooms with amenities targeted at urban travelers.

Moxy room

The very small guestrooms maximize space by hanging foldable items such as chairs on the wall.

GlobeSt.com: What hotel brands are jumping on board?

Cromwell: Some of the most fascinating and dramatic applications of the microhotel concept can be seen at properties that are looking to capture the more budget-conscious Millennial. For example, Pacifica Hotels is targeting the Millennial subset at the Wayfarer in Santa Barbara, CA, where guests can choose between private hotel rooms or dorm-style hostel rooms. In addition to the heated pool, community kitchen and “playful” decor, the hotel/hostel advertises the lively activity of Santa Barbara’s nearby State Street as an amenity in itself. Pacifica Hotels has similar plans for converting the historic Ritz-Milner Hotel in Downtown Los Angeles to another Wayfarer property in 2016.

Additionally, Marriott’s Moxy brand couples 183-square-foot standard rooms with amenities targeted at urban travelers such as full bars and grab-and-go food offerings. In the same vein, Hilton’s Tru brand plans to offset compact 230-square-foot king rooms with 2,770 square feet of varied amenity space to offer travelers a range of areas to relax and socialize.

GlobeSt.com: Will this trend continue for new hotel developments in the future?

Cromwell: Microhotels have been well received in urban areas and are expected to continue expansion into more suburban areas where travelers look for both great value and smart design. It will be interesting to watch how the hospitality industry evolves to further capitalize on the community-minded nature of the Millennial traveler in 2017 and beyond. For now, the name of the game is the exchange of larger, luxurious guestrooms for more highly amenitized common areas that foster community.