Hospitality Brand Raises Post-Pandemic Bar
Bridging the ease and affordability of the sharing economy with the amenities and design of a boutique hotel has propelled Sonder into a travel unicorn. The company’s digitally driven experience looks more than ever like a model for the hospitality future. “We have some natural advantages as a business, like our virtual service and technology at every layer of the experience, and spaces that are more self-contained with washers, dryers, living rooms, and kitchens,”co-founder and CEO Francis Davidson says.
The brand’s network of more than 11,000 apartments across major markets in the U.S., European cities like London and Rome, and even Dubai has been expanding steadily. From the outset, Sonder has operated as a travel company for the mobile phone generation. In lieu of front desk clerks, guests receive an access code and concierge services through the app. But unlike other short-term apartment rentals, daily housekeeping services are available during every stay. The portfolio is rooted in a modern design ethos, though their in-house design team eschews copy-and-paste aesthetics.
The next evolution of the brand could see the introduction of more traditional hotel elements like restaurants and bars, an offering that exists in many of their buildings now through partnerships. Everything is on the table. As bold as it may sound, Davidson’s ambition is to build one of the great consumer brands of our era. “We want to build the hospitality company of the next generation of travelers. We think it’s possible to give a really luxurious experience to the middle class,” he says. “If we have a collection of great spaces with killer architecture that you can seamlessly book on your phone at an affordable price point, it gives us the opportunity to be a brand that’s loved by a whole lot of people.”
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