HomeHotelSmartRental: the business of adapting to the customer with flexible hospitality

SmartRental: the business of adapting to the customer with flexible hospitality

The sales of SmartRental Group increased by 50% in 2023, signed around 1,500 rooms, went international and carried out a rebranding to organize the different lines of business and promote them. Carlos Escoda, CEO of the company since September 2022, tells HOSTELTUR that “we are at a very good growth rate.” The future looks promising thanks to the hybrid proposal they offer and which focuses on the client who spends one night, ten or two months.

What is your assessment of the year and a half that you have been leading the company?

I took over the company in September 2022 with a very strong five-year strategy to make it grow, professionalize and expand it. The first year we have signed 1,500 rooms, we have managed to be international and today we have 3,000 rooms, occupancy rates greater than 90% and presence in two countries, which are Spain and Hungary. Additionally, we manage about 400 employees.

This first year has been rebranding because SmartRental Group is a group of many brands and many absolutely different businesses, but they have one thing in common: the client spends the night and we adapt to their needs. That allows us to do a lot cross selling and interrelate the needs of a client

Has it been a profitable year for the different verticals of SmartRental Group?

In profitability we have increased 65% in 2023 and this year I think we will be able to double it. Everything will depend on the agreements we are carrying out with the different investment funds. I believe that SmartRental has a very great growth potential thanks to its diversification, because if tomorrow a problem arises in the short stay, I have the residential one.

What is the focus of SmartRental Group’s business?

Today we are the only operator in Spain that operates both residential and hotel, and within the hotel world both hotels, hostels and tourist apartments. We operate different brands and separated the company into two. In short stay we have the hotels Akeahthe hostels Malacuna and tourist apartments: smartrwhich are automated and technological apartments, and SmartRental Collection, which mixes the good things of an apartment and a hotel. On the other hand, we have 1,500 coliving rooms, senior living (Live it, Evoca) and student housing (Smart Living). We have presences in Madrid, Valencia, Ibiza, the Canary Islands, Malaga, Seville, Córdoba, Budapest and we are building in Lisbon.

Learn more about SmartRental Group brands

– SmartRental Group launches hotel brand with the Akeah Gran Vía

– SmartRental’s Malacuna brand will debut in Barcelona and Madrid

– SmartRental Group diversifies its business with flexible apartments

Carlos Escoda has been the CEO of the company since September 2022. Source: SmartRental Group.

How many hotels do you currently have?

We have the Akeah on Gran Vía, we have one in Budapest and we are building an Akeah in Córdoba. The one in Madrid is in Malasaña and what we want is for it to be a hotel within the neighborhood and we are creating the same thing in Córdoba, with a 70-room hotel.

What is the reason for the commitment to coliving, medium-term apartments or student housing?

We are covering a need. We analyze what you want to share and based on that you have your product. You have your room in a shared apartment, gym, cleaning, swimming pool, rooftop, coworking space. Just as we saw the need for coliving for digital nomads, professionals or students, we have also seen the need for senior living, for people between 50 and 75 years old. We offer all the services of a hotel, but with flexibility. This year we will open the first one in Alicante, I hope it will be before the end of the first quarter.

Now it is very fashionable to share things, because people want to socialize and meet other people who travel. The company offers flexibility, organizes events and parties and creates activities to promote interrelation and networking between colivers


What are SmartRental Group’s growth plans?

2023 has allowed us to sign more than 1,500 rooms. We enter Valencia, Seville with SmartRental Owners and Trian Bridgeto; in Malaga, with a coliving, two tourist apartment buildings and a third of Premium range tourist apartments. Then in Córdoba, with the Akeah hotel and the Malacuna hostel. In Madrid we entered building the Malacuna and a Flex living in Alcovendas. In Barcelona we are also building a hostel and we opened the first student housing. We have opened in Budapest and built in Lisbon.

What goals have been set for 2024?

The challenge for 2024 is to reach 3,000 signed rooms. I hope to open 500 rooms in the Canary Islands in the first quarter. In 2023 we enter Andalusia, but I still have Granada and Cádiz to go, where we are in talks, and we are going to incorporate the Plaza de Zaragoza.

More information

– SmartRental brings at least three accommodation brands to Andalusia

– SmartRental wants 500 rooms in the Canary Islands by the end of 2024

– The Labranda Bronze Playa hotel will change management in June

Last year they started internationalization in Budapest, how is it going?

We have created an international team to reach France, grow much more in Portugal and also go to countries like Italy.

SmartRental: the business of adapting to the customer with flexible hospitality

The Hotel Akeah Madrid has a rooftop and terrace with a pool with views of the city. Source: SmartRental Group.

Is there a product that currently offers more opportunities?

There are opportunities in everything. I think that the hotel market is changing, people want different, non-standardized hotels, that each one has its soul and its activity and that is not just a place to go to sleep, but that there is atmosphere, fun, gastronomy. People want boutique concepts that do other things.

The hostel segment needs to be developed, because there are very good and powerful chains, but there is still a market of individual families that are operating their hostels, and that is what we are focusing on. Tourist apartments also represent an opportunity and are not the enemy, because they cover customer needs that others have not been able to cover. There is a market for everyone. And coliving is the order of the day, because people cannot emancipate themselves or cannot buy apartments because they are at the price they are.

Investor interest

In 2023 they signed a joint venture with a fund to grow. Will we see other alliances of this type?

In 2023 we were able to create a joint venture with an investment fund to grow with 300 million, for coliving, senior living and flex living. I’m not going to make hotels with that. But we are talking to others, to be able to create the same agreement to grow with my other verticals and business branches.

In this first year I have realized that organic growth is very complicated, because it requires a lot of time. Growing with the support of investment funds is much faster. We are in talks and I think that this year we will be able to close those operations

Is growing by buying competition an option?

SmartRental Group does not have a competitor. I have hotel competitors, in serviced apartments, or in hostels, but someone who houses everything like us doesn’t. However, we have created a department to begin analyzing the purchase of operators or signing joint ventures to grow, perhaps in those countries where we are not present.

Do you think other more traditional hosting companies will opt for these business alternatives?

Some hotel chains are launching branded residences because they have seen that apartments are not the enemy. SmartRental Collection apartments have that concept. There are chains that have hostels and others that don’t want to, because it doesn’t fit with their business model. I believe that a hotelier can excellently manage a coliving, a senior living, a flex living, because they already have the structure. The more we are, the more competition there will be, the more I will demand of myself, the more value we will provide and the better it will be for the client.

Source: Hosteltur



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