Domio targets group travelers with spacious, tech-forward homes in urban markets. In addition to its Domio-operated and designed properties, the company is planning to launch 25 apartment-hotels in the next few years.
Founded in 2016, Domio has raised $67 million in funding. It will open its first apartment-hotel in New Orleans in January 2019.
Describe both the business and technology aspects of your startup.
Domio is revolutionizing group travel experiences with the creation of a tech-forward apartment-hotel and network of Domio-designed homes. Travelers staying at Domio properties can enjoy the comfort of a home and the confidence of a hotel by joining more than 80,000 guests to date in booking a Domio property across Austin, Boston, Chicago, Honolulu, New Orleans, Philadelphia, New York, Nashville and San Diego.
The company is making group travel more enjoyable and economical with spacious accommodations. The median Domio unit available for booking offers guests three bedrooms and measures around 1,500 square feet to comfortably accommodate groups of five or more.
Its apart-hotel units cost 25% less on average than similarly sized hotels. Domio properties are branded and designed similarly to offer a higher standard of experience across locations. Furthermore, the company’s utilization of software to optimize accommodations and data-driven approach to identifying, acquiring and quickly listing an ever-expanding portfolio of properties has enabled it to grow sales 400% year-over-year with an occupancy rate of more than 82% - close to 20% higher than the hotel average.
Unlike online travel agencies or vacation rental companies, whose listings are made up of properties from millions of different owners, Domio operates its apart-hotel accommodations from end to end. This control means guests can expect reliability, consistency and smart design across locations. Domio provides guests the comfort of home with the quality of a hotel at a lower price point because capital needs are substantially lower due to Domio’s asset-light business model.
Through custom interiors done by top designers, with handpicked furniture, accessories and art, Domio makes each space feel like home. Comfort and care are ensured for guests as they are provided premium mattresses, hotel-quality linens, ready kitchens and 24-hour guest services.
Domio has raised $67 million in funding to date and plans to lease and open as many as 25 apartment-style hotels for group travelers over the next few years. The first apart-hotel property - Domio Baronne ST - is slated to open in New Orleans in January 2019.
What inspired you to create this company?
For founders Jay and Adrian, travel was always about bringing people together. Early on they noticed that traveling with friends meant staying in three or four different rooms - sometimes in different neighborhoods entirely. Quality family time during reunions was also constrained for similar reasons, and the hotel accommodations were often missing essentials.
In 2016, we founded Domio, setting out to solve these issues by providing large spaces for group travel. Today, the Domio team is composed of top talent from hospitality, real estate, technology and design verticals, and we pride ourselves in making each stay feel as unique and immersive as the destination itself.
What are the travel pain points you are trying to alleviate from both the customer and the industry perspective?
Trying to find accommodations that can play host to your trips with friends, family and even business colleagues is painful - and the group requirements often make booking an accommodation location restrictive and cost prohibitive. We’re providing group travelers a high-end, hotel-like experience in urban areas with the cost benefits that the sharing economy provides.
The group travel market is not well served by traditional hotels, and it is attractive to travelers. As millennials put off marriage and starting a family much longer than previous generations, they have a prolonged period of disposable income and the independence to travel with friends.
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As they plan group trips, tech-forward hospitality companies like ours are attractive for a few different reasons. Millennials want the ability to utilize the latest technology to book their travel and enjoy their lodging on their own timetable. Airbnb set a baseline here, and the alternative accommodation operators that will continue to succeed will be those that bring new technology to the table.
In addition, millennials aren’t afraid to be cost-conscious if they don’t have to sacrifice quality. We’ve found that they simply enjoy the price they are paying per square foot of room to stay at Domio versus a hotel in most markets. They have more space at lower cost, and often a kitchen that you can leverage to make meals and congregate in as a group for games and friendly conversation.
So you've got the product, now how will you get lots of customers?
In group travel especially, our brand will give us a leg up. Those booking with Domio will rest assured they’re going to receive a consistent, high-quality stay unlike booking with millions of different and inconsistent rental owners with all types of properties. Just like grabbing a Starbucks in any market around the world, you’re always going to know what you’re getting with a Domio.
Tell us what process you've gone through to establish a genuine need for your company and the size of the addressable market.
As we’ve hosted tens of thousands of guests at our properties in 2018, we’ve seen increasing demand from group travelers for more spacious accommodations that make travel both more economical and enjoyable. Group travel presents a multi-hundred billion dollar market, which is often underserved by traditional hotels and hospitality brands.
What are the backgrounds and previous achievements of the founding team, and why do you have what it takes to succeed with this business?
We believe we have the strongest team disrupting the traditional real estate industry and creating a new type of hospitality market. Domio’s CEO and co-founder, Jay Roberts, is a former real estate investment banker at Bank of America Merrill Lynch. His team led the MGM Growth Properties $1.2 billion IPO, the largest real estate IPO of 2016. It also led Paramount Group’s $2.6 billion IPO, the largest REIT IPO in United States history.
The rest of the leadership team has varied backgrounds and domain expertise in product, design, hotel operations, residential interior design, hospitality amenities and many more fields. They’ve previously held roles at companies such as Hilton, the Ritz-Carlton, the Waldorf Astoria, Walt Disney World Resort, Morgan Stanley, Uber, WeWork and IBM.
Generally, travel startups face a fairly tough time making an impact - so why are you going to be one of the lucky ones?
Succeeding as a startup of any kind often comes down to timing and execution. Domio launched at an ideal time, where the line between the residential real estate and hospitality market has finally blurred. The apartment-hotel market that has been created at its intersection is growing quicker than nearly any traditional real estate market.
Domio has already taken an early lead in professionalizing this burgeoning industry. Our leadership team, which is made of seasoned executives that have spent their careers managing global real estate investment deals, redesigning the future of hotels and optimizing the consumer experience through technology and data science, has a laser focus on creating a dynamic strategy and opening Domio in markets where group travelers want to go.
Domio will continue to innovate its brand, its offering and empower its team to create new experiences and apartment-hotels as this new market skyrockets.
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