Stay Alfred, a Spokane startup that popularized the concept of “travel apartments,” plans to double its inventory after receiving $47 million in venture capital funding.
Stay Alfred leases nearly 2,000 apartments in 28 U.S. metro areas for short-term stays. The company advertises spacious units in walkable downtown locations, including Spokane, touting hotel-style amenities in a more relaxed vacation rental setting.
Nine Four Ventures, a Chicago-based real estate technology fund, led the funding that will support Stay Alfred’s expansion to about 4,000 units by late 2019, the companies announced this week.
Stay Alfred is leading an “emerging wave” of companies defining a new hospitality segment, Nine Four General Partner Kurt Ramirez said in a news release.
“Combine that with a tenacious, always-do-better culture and we believe they’re building something special,” he said.
Stay Alfred was founded in 2011 by Jordan Allen, a Spokane Valley native and former Army Ranger.
The idea for the company grew out of a visit Allen made to Denver with his brother while he was in the military to see a Colorado Rockies baseball game. They stayed in a high-end condo that offered walking access to downtown and other amenities. The price was comparable to a hotel.
Allen figured other travelers would embrace the concept, particularly if the offering could be standardized and sold under a brand name.
The popularity of vacation rentals demonstrates people’s interest in alternatives to “the bland shoeboxes of the traditional hotel offering,” Allen, Stay Alfred’s chief executive officer, said in a news release.
But people also want a consistent experience, which Airbnbs don’t deliver, said Eric Anderson, Stay Alfred’s vice president of marketing.
When people book a Stay Alfred unit, they know they’ll be staying in a furnished apartment with a kitchen and Wi-Fi access, he said. The units often come with hotel-like extras, such as access to a gym or pool, although daily housekeeping service is not included, Anderson said.
The latest round of funding brings the company’s total to $62 million.
Since Stay Alfred’s launch, nearly 500,000 people have stayed in its units. The company anticipates revenues in the $80 million range this year, Anderson said.
Most of the company’s growth over the next year will occur in the 28 cities where Stay Alfred already has units. But company officials are also interested in a handful of new cities, such as Chicago or Miami, that are international travel destinations, Anderson said.
In those areas, Stay Alfred will partner with developers that are building or refurbishing apartments. By working directly with developers, Stay Alfred will ensure the new inventory meets local planning and zoning regulations for short-term rentals, Anderson said.
“We’ll introduce it as a new concept in multifamily development,” Anderson said.
Developers can build a traditional, multifamily development, while including some units suitable for short-term stays, he said.
Stay Alfred has about 230 employees, mostly in the Spokane area. By the end of 2019, the company will employ about 400 people, Anderson said.
Stay Alfred outgrew its Spokane headquarters at 123 E. Sprague Ave. The company is in the process of relocating to the former Itron building in Spokane Valley, a move that should wrap up by late November, Anderson said.
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