How Life House is Building a “New-Age” Hotel Management Company
Since its inception in 2017, Life House, an asset-driven, technology-driven hotel brand and management company, has established itself as a “new era management company”, according to the managing director and head of growth Brian Dunn.
With a management portfolio of more than 60 independent hotels representing more than 2,500 rooms, Life House’s primary goal is to create value for its third-party real estate partners, Dunn said. The company’s portfolio is present in over 18 US states, Puerto Rico, Canada and Mexico.
Ranging from roadside motorhomes with average daily rates of mid-to-high $100 to luxury hotels with ADRs of $1,400-$1,500, Life House has proven it can add value to all chain scales, Dunn said.
Life House is backed by venture capital and closed a $60 million Series C financing last fall co-led by Booking Holdings, through its subsidiary Kayak, and Canadian firm Inovia Capital. , Dunn said.
“An exciting time for us. We currently have around 60 projects underway, all signed under management contracts,” he said. “We don’t own any real estate, we’re an operator, and we’ve built a technology stack that allows us to add additional value to independent hotels for our third-party real estate owners.”
The company has three core verticals that Dunn says are actively developing. Among the verticals is its “four-star” boutique brand Life House which was designed and developed in-house on behalf of its real estate partners.
Over the next few weeks, his team will be opening a new Life House, Berkshires in Lenox, Massachusetts. Another recent opening is the 12-room Blue Iris by Life House in Nantucket, Massachusetts.
“We have also recently signed a [brand new] Life House project in Puerto Rico. We continue to actively grow this brand and add projects under development across the country. Our last one we can announce will be coming to Palm Springs next year,” Dunn said.
Alongside Life House, the team is preparing to launch a new brand called Life Inn, which will be “a three-star manifestation of the Life House brand,” Dunn said. The brand is aimed at owners or investors of existing limited-service, select-service economy assets in outdoor recreation locations, primarily where “owners have historically lacked a managed lifestyle brand option “.
Another big focus and vertical of Life House is its third party management. About two-thirds of Life House’s portfolio is made up of unique independent properties, such as the boutique Amigo Motor Lodge in Salida, Colorado, and the “Forbes Five-Star” Wheatleigh Hotel in Lenox, Massachusetts.
“We have proven our ability to add value for owners chain-wide and will continue to grow with three, four and five star products. Last win there, we recently signed Callicoon Hills [in Catskills, New York] it’s 65 keys with a restaurant and event center. We’re excited to add more products in and around the New York metro area,” Dunn said.
He said the sweet spot for Life House’s room count is between 50 and 125 rooms per property, but could drop if revenue per available room is higher. In the coming months, Life House will announce its largest hotel signed to date, which boasts over 200 rooms.
Life House’s third vertical is its partnership with online travel agency Kayak to operate its Kayak brand of hotels. Life House currently operates three Kayak-branded hotels in Florida and Mexico and will continue to grow this partnership. This partnership allows Life House to move into larger urban assets of 75 to 200 rooms, Dunn said.
Dunn said Life House is fortunate to have investors supporting it in a way that allows it to “build a vision for a new era management company.”
In 2017, Life House cleaned up its “tech stack” and started from scratch to integrate with third-party systems and create its own proprietary systems that best suit its smaller asset types, Dunn said. Life House currently has nine proprietary systems in-house that its team operates for its owners.
“If you think about the landscape of hotel management, the vast majority of players are becoming more commoditized and primarily run larger hotels, and do so with a technology stack that is historically driven by the standard system requirements of large [brand] flags,” he said. “What we’ve seen is that this traditional structuring of management companies using these third-party systems is better suited to these larger hotels.
In addition to in-house systems that help properties increase revenue and improve operational efficiency, Life House has also invested in guest-facing technology such as check-in kiosks, a mobile app, and guest inquiry systems. .
“Each existing asset is different and offers different opportunities for a group like ours to add value; not everything is a one-size-fits-all equation, but there is often a combination of opportunities to improve revenue through better dynamic pricing, improving direct bookings and lowering the cost of those bookings compared to OTAs,” he added. “In other cases, it is possible to achieve reductions in expenses without risk by automating traditional back-office functions.”
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