Ex-Meininger Boss Launches LyvInn…an Urban Village

Main Photo: The LyvInn concept – imagined

Date: July 2020

Locations: Initial targets are Amsterdam, Paris, Berlin, Hamburg, Barcelona and London

Name: LyvInn

No. of Keys: TBA

Owner: Navneet Bali, the former chairman of Meininger Hotels, has launched a hybrid brand combining extended stay and transient guests, under the name LyvInn.

The flag will target cities including Amsterdam, Paris, Berlin, Hamburg, Barcelona and London, under a freehold or leasehold model with potential for conversions.

Bali told us: “I’ve been thinking of this for some time. At Meininger I was focused on creating a hybrid model that catered to both the hotel and hostel markets. When I took over as CEO of Meininger in 2013 we were the first to call a hospitality product as a ‘hybrid’.

“LyvInn is also a hybrid but a combination of transient and extended stay, whereas Meininger is fully transient. My idea was to create another brand within the same demographic – young people. They have a different way of looking at the world. When they come out of university, when they start their first jobs, they need somewhere to live. They aren’t likely going to immediately be able to buy a flat and they enjoy the communal experience. It’s cheaper, everything’s taken care of – there are elements of co-working. COVID-19 means that it is likely to become more common to work from home, so you might also get start-ups taking space.”

Bali said that LyvInn aims to be the leader in providing spaces for young people to live in for work and travel. LyvInn will combine the efficient use of space by sharing communal spaces and facilities, with, he said, contemporary youthful design and state-of-the-art health and safety features. LyvInn aimed to create loyalty through strength of locations, whilst creating a secure environment suitable for home working or studying in a collaborative setting.

Bali added: “From a return per square metre point of view, it’s a small apartment. You have an apartment, a living space and a work space. You can work individually or in a team; it provides flexibility and a sense of community. People also want a trusted brand, particularly now, with the pandemic. They want a branded experience where they can feel safe.

“It’s also an extended-stay product, so it provides a more stable income from a landlord’s point of view. It’s a combination of Live and Inn, and provides for flexibility with a transient element, catering to families and young people, as well as businesses.”

Bali said that the group was looking for properties ranging from 5000 sq.meters to 30,000 sq.meters of GFA. These could be freehold or leasehold LyvInn could also acquire existing development sites or offices, apartment or hotel buildings that could be converted.

Commenting on the current opportunity in the sector, Bali said: “There’s going to be a bloodbath for conversion from hotels and office space. Why build from greenfield when you can convert? The model will be flexible depending on the location; that’s what you do with hybrids, you have an agile product that you can switch concept according to the location and when the market changes, you change.

“The important thing is to have a brand able to cater for this and there are not that many in this segment.”

Hospitality Insight: Conversions and extended stay. This is the current Greek chorus of the sector and Bali has popped up at just the right time to fulfil the dreams of hotel owners and investors looking at the sector with eager but querulous eyes. As we have seen throughout this results reason, extended stay is performing better than traditional hotels and now that everyone is piling deeper into it. Magnuson Hotels has launched a brand. Choice Hotels International is shopping for another.

But is it as easy as putting a Baby Belling in the corner of a room and telling the guest that you’ll be back in a week? No, sadly not. For one thing, the pandemic guest may be happy just to be away from their home/home office/home school/home hairdresser, but that doesn’t make them any less picky, so the old extended stay model of a grey box stacked on top of a lot of other grey boxes won’t cut it.

The new model is far more home-from-home – or aspirational home-from-home. Indeed, in markets such as the US, extended stay is pay-as-you-go housing. With the price of housing ever-growing, the move from residential being an investment to being a service is unlikely to be reversed soon.

For LyvInn, Bali is sticking with the mantra of revenue per square foot which served him so well at Meininger. For some reason this makes him at outlier in the sector, which continues to be fascinated by revpar and trying not to think about the revenue from ballrooms and where that fits in. A confusion for the sector, but not for investors who now, more than ever, want to know how well their money is working. Particularly now the ballroom ain’t dancing no more.

THPT Comment: If anyone can do it, Navneet Bali is the man…having built Meininger up, against the financial woes of the parent company, Bali has hit upon a great concept….we work meets hostel meets urban living…Well done and good luck.

First Seen: Hospitality Insights

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