United Kingdom hotel firm EasyHotel, part of the Easy Group, which also operates low-fare airline EasyJet, is on a mission to expand noticeably and to become more mainland European in feel.
Speaking exclusively to Hotel News Now, EasyHotel CEO Karim Malak, who took over the reins of the firm in December 2021, said key May 2022 hires underline this push.
Gwenaëlle Pouy was brought in as chief development officer and head of real estate, Charles Persello arrived as chief financial officer and Louis Poisson started as chief operating officer.
Two other recent arrivals were Jacques Bonafé, head of construction for Europe; and Thomas Robet, who joined as head of development for France and Belgium.
ICAMAP Investments and Ivanhoé Cambridge own 79.1% of the hotel firm in a joint venture, with most of the remainder owned by founder Stelios Haji-Ioannou, who also founded EasyJet.
Malak said Bonafé’s appointment is spearheading the firm’s drive to deliver on its decarbonization strategy, which includes the implementation of a new low-carbon hotel room, while Robet has been tasked with the delivering on the goal of reaching 100 hotels by 2026.
“Our recruitment has given us more strength and the ability to sustain the development we want and to give it a more European feel, a continental feel, and to be a European leader,” he said.
Malak added Pouy brings with her a wealth of experience in the budget and economy sector and the opportunity to consider more opportunities in construction, redevelopment, leases, conversions and partnerships.
“Developing more aggressively is the cornerstone of the strategy, to add more volume, and we see we can be very successful in places we have not been to before or at airports, places that are far from our traditional base,” he said. “Of course, airport hotels have synergies between EasyJet and EasyHotel, and they will remain convenient hotels, not luxurious, expensive ones.”
EasyHotel is extremely well-positioned in this current period of high inflation and economic downturn, Malak said.
He added EasyHotel outperformed its competitive set in 2022, with revenue per available room up 56% compared to full-year 2019.
“The brand is gaining traction across all Europe, and half of our hotels now are outside the U.K. We’re improving our product and customer satisfaction rates since 2019,” he said.
Malak said the current demand profile is much better for budget hotels.
“We want to be the cheapest option among quality hotels in any location,” he said. “We are staying true to our DNA of being an affordable brand. We’ll stick to that, and we are proud of that positioning without sacrificing quality.”
That quality is a thick mattress of a four-star-hotel standard, great soundproofing, blackout screens and good Wi-Fi and water pressure, Malak said.
Malak added the brand’s guest mix comprises those who cannot afford to stay in more luxurious hotels and those who would not want to.
“People who are not here explore my hotel. It is a different take on the market than our competitors, for guests who are not staying 24 hours at the hotel and spending all their money on nondescript cocktails and a bicycle on the wall as a design point,” he said.
Malak said what his hotels will provide are maps of the city, curated places to visit and check-in staff who are knowledgeable about the cities and towns in which they work.
Malak, who came to the firm after almost six years as CEO of Aparthotels Adagio and has experience as an IT engineer, said his hotels are becoming a focus for guests especially interested in minimizing or canceling their carbon footprint.
He said his team has implemented low carbon-footprint initiatives throughout the network.
“Structurally, we have compact rooms, which means less tonnes of concrete and low [carbon-dioxide] emissions per occupied bed,” he said.
“There are no unused surfaces and large lobbies, breakfast areas and restaurants not used during the day. The strategy is to have high occupancy, both in the hotels and [for EasyJet] in the air,” he added.
Malak said the EasyHotel model resulted in 20% fewer emissions than its competitors, and additional investment in metering, solar panels and CHP — combined heat and power — initiatives will help grow this percentage.
On April 21, the firm announced an investment valued at 4.5 million pounds sterling ($5.6 million) into 12 of its U.K. hotels to further reduce carbon emissions by 45% by 2025.
“From the customer’s perspective, there is a link between low cost and low carbon, and for us, it makes sense to be in that space and to be a good corporate citizen. Everyone wants to be, but we put our money where our mouth is,” Malak said.
Such thinking and initiatives have been incorporated into EasyHotel’s portfolio of 44 hotels and more than 4,000 rooms. Eighteen of the hotels, with approximately 50% of total rooms, are franchised hotels; the remainder are owned and leased.
Malak said he is interested in destinations that have leisure business but are big enough to also have business-oriented customers. He added it makes sense to be in transportation hubs, especially those connected to EasyJet flights.
“There is no reason not to have the same number in France or Germany as we have in the U.K., maybe through acquisition,” he said.
In March, EasyHotel opened the 180-room Paris Nord Aubervilliers in a northern neighborhood of Paris, the firm’s third French hotel. Other new openings this year include the EasyHotel Madrid Atocha and EasyHotel Dublin City Centre.
In late 2022, the company bought eight hotels and 793 rooms in The Netherlands and Belgium for 145 million euros ($160 million) from Crossroads Real Estate. The deal also included the management platform for the hotels and the master franchise agreement rights in the country for its own brand.
Seven of the franchised hotels are in the Dutch cities of Amsterdam, Maastricht, Rotterdam, The Hague and Zaandam, and the Belgium one is in its capital, Brussels.
“Our goal for 100 hotels is not an easy target, but I believe it is achievable given the appetite of customers for our brand,” Malak said.
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