Hotels are convenient but rarely homey. Short-term rentals through Airbnb or HomeAway are often comfy but can be a pain to book and check-in. Business travelers often have to pick the best of two lousy options. Mint House is summed up best by Tige Savage, Revolution Venture managing partner: “Mint House is the best of a hotel without the worst of a hotel and the best of an Airbnb without the worst of an Airbnb.”
The New York-based Mint House is today announcing a $15 million financing round led by Revolution Ventures, with participation from other investors and hotel industry veterans. The influx of capital and industry connections should go a long way in allowing the company to expand its offering that caters to business travelers looking for apartment-style accommodations with the predictability and reliability found in top-tier hotels.
Mint House is entering a crowded market dominated by Airbnb and monstrous industry incumbents. Mint House founder and CEO, Will Lucas, explained to TechCrunch how the company stands apart from hotels and short-term rentals. He said the company strives to provide the business traveler with a comprehensive hotel experience.
The service works a lot like a modern hotel. Travelers book online and proceed with their trip. Once the traveler arrives in the area or lands at the airport, a geofence is tripped, triggering directions to enter the building and room. The traveler doesn’t have to find someone to give them the key; their phone unlocks the door to an apartment-style room. Lucas says this takes a lot of stress off the property owner as the traveler does not need to bother anyone in the building — tenets or management alike.
Right now Mint House is focusing on markets in the U.S. besides the top markets of New York City, San Francisco and Los Angeles. Mint House is available in Indianapolis, Denver, Nashville, Miami and Detroit. Lucas said he feels there are opportunities in these markets and often there are even worse accommodations available than in the busiest cities. Still, the total offering is relatively small: there are 200 rooms in operation, and 200 are scheduled to open by summer 2019. Travelers can book a Mint House through their app, website, or on travel sites like Expedia, Booking.com or Airbnb.
Mint House leases buildings from property owners, and Lucas was adamant that it’s the company’s goal to be a preferred partner with the real estate industry. He says that so far properties are receptive to Mint House’s business plan, and to be a global brand, the real estate community company needs to welcome Mint House. Each property, even though some might be residential or mixed-use, have a dedicated staff of cleaners and management employed by Mint House. Likewise, each city Mint House operates in has a dedicated staff in-market overseeing the local operation.
“We understand that we have two customers — the multifamily developers and the business traveler — and by prioritizing both we’ve been able to secure A+ properties and deliver a top-rated guest experience,” Lucas said.” We have also formed a team of investors and advisors that are perfectly suited to help us differentiate ourselves in this lucrative market. With expertise and relationships in growing cities, as well as how to build world-renowned hospitality brands and services, we are confident that we can continue to build and expand alongside landlords and hospitality partners.”
Each market offers different regulations that Mint House has to follow. Lucas says the company supports whatever regulation they need to follow. It’s clear he’s trying to keep Mint House on the right side of regulation. And he has help. Mint House has attracted the attention of several industry veterans that know how to grow a hospitality company.
Several notable hospitality veterans also participated in the financing round, including Tom Mangas, the former CEO of Starwood Hotels; Carl Sparks, the former CEO of Travelocity; Kerry Hatch, the former president of St. Regis Hotels; and Rob Stewart, the executive vice chairman of JBG Smith. Philippe Bourguignon, vice chairman of Revolution Places, former CEO of Club Med and Euro Disney and former president of Accor Hotels, Asia Pacific will join the board.
The deep network of industry insiders should help Mint House carve out a space of their own in the competitive hospitality world. It’s a tough market. Mint House has to get buy-in from business travelers and property owners alike. It’s a two-front battle. But as a frequent traveler myself, Mint House’s value proposition is compelling. I don’t need a hotel lobby or lackluster gym; I want a bed, couch and a TV without the terrible hotel menu system.