US: Apartment-style accommodation provider Lyric is pivoting away from leasing buildings after it was announced that its sole remaining location at 70 Pine Street in New York City would be taken over by New York-based startup Mint House this month.
The opening in downtown Manhattan within New York City’s Financial District is the latest stage in Mint House’s expansion and first location in the city where it is based.
Founded in 2014, Lyric’s troubles in public began in March before the global lockdowns triggered by the Covid-19 pandemic ensued, when it laid off around 20 per cent of its staff and retreated from a number of cities in which it was operating. Its co-founder and then-president, Joe Fraiman, also departed in July for personal reasons.
Just 19 months ago, the startup raised $160 million in a Series B round led by home-sharing behemoth Airbnb and it had reportedly raised $179 million in funding since its founding six years ago.
Since retreating back to its one remaining location in New York City, Lyric has pivoted to selling software including its revenue and pricing management tool Wheelhouse, which calculates room bookings, as CEO Andrew Kitchell explained to ShortTermRentalz.
Kitchell said: “While it’s been a tough year for the urban accommodations space, Lyric has been fortunate to work closely with Mint House to transition our a number of our best properties and teammates to a team we not only respect, but who we believe is poised to lead the next generation of the short-term rental space.
“At the 70 Pine property in particular, Mint House will continue to build upon and improve an experience that guests from all corners of the world have come to love – as the property has achieved the number one rating on TripAdvisor, thanks to the team that Mint House will continue to employ.
“While we’ll always be proud of what the Lyric brand stood for [Empowered Together], and what our operations teams achieved, we’re also excited to be partnering with Mint House and other great teams to build software to power the professionalisation of the short-term rental space.
“Currently, we’re focused on launching a new version of Wheelhouse, our best-in-class revenue management platform designed for professional operators. Today, Wheelhouse powers 10,000s of professional operators, and our team is proud to continue to push our industry forward, focused on a technology stack we believe can help accelerate our category’s growth,” he added.
Another lodging provider competing in the same space, Spokane-based Stay Alfred, was forced to shutter in May due to the fallout of the coronavirus on the global hospitality and real estate sectors.
However, Mint House, which operates in Denver, Miami, Minneapolis and Nashville, will take over 132 units across four floors at the building that were previously occupied by Lyric. The tech-enabled hotel company, which provides apartment-style accommodations to business travellers, has acquired a hotel licence which will allow guests to rent out the units for stays of less than 30 days.
70 Pine is strategically important as it will give Mint House a property in New York City, which is key to becoming a preferred travel partner to big corporations, a $120-billion-dollar market.
CEO and founder, Will Lucas, told Business Travel News: “We think this is a fantastic downtown location and a really nice building.”
He added that the startup was also targeting other locations in Manhattan, such as Midtown and Hudson Yards for future expansion.
Described as “the best of a hotel without the worst of a hotel and the best of an Airbnb without the worst of an Airbnb”, Mint House secured $15 million in a funding round by venture capital firm Revolution Venture last year.
The company, which has made its name leasing buildings from property owners, reported stable occupancy levels over the last five months at around 80 per cent and saw its average stay rise from three to 17 nights. Mint House properties can be booked through its app, website or online travel agencies such as Airbnb, Expedia and Booking.com.
In response to the pandemic, it added mirror equipment in its properties and rolled out room service, powered by ghost kitchens that only deliver meals. The startup also launched a 74-point cleaning and hygiene protocol – the Mint Clean Standard – to reassure guests and provide them with the most comfortable stay possible.
When the traveller arrives in the area or lands at the airport, a geofence is tripped. In order to enter their apartment-style room, guests require just their phone rather than a key, ideal in an industry relying more on more on touchless technology to ensure the best possible guest experience.
Founded in 2017, Mint House has big ambitions to be operating more than 800 units before the end of the year, including the addition in New York City, as well as 50 units in Austin, Texas, and around 30 in Columbus, Ohio.
The startup has grown to over 19 properties in ten US cities. By the end of 2021, Mint House is set to almost double in size and have 1500 units in its portfolio, according to Lucas.