Hotel and short-term rental convergence: Q&A with Brian Ferdinand, SoBeNY owner

BHN news editor Eloise Hanson speaks to Brian Ferdinand, owner of SoBeNY and managing partner of CorpHousing Group, about the opportunities to operate and manage a diversified portfolio.

• SoBeNY is a short-term rental operator which focuses on business travel. What prompted the decision to own and manage your first hotel in Miami, and are you looking to further expand into the hotel space?

The short-term rental market, until recently, has heavily focused on business travel. As the market has begun shifting in the past years, more and more leisure travellers are opting for short-term rental accommodations over traditional hotels. As this transition continues, we are seeing our business transition along with it and the types of accommodation we look to offer is evolving. 

Miami presented a unique opportunity that was turn-key for us to take over the space. Typically, our model is larger residential units with a focus on urban core product. Miami and South Florida have positioned itself very well coming out of the back end of the pandemic and we decided it was an investment worth making as we continue to see the short-term rental market grow locally in the area. We already have the team in place on the ground in Miami, customer service, and the infrastructure to support the product without much additional cost so it made sense operationally as well. 

• Many property owners are diversifying their portfolios as a result of the pandemic. Where are you seeing the opportunities? 

We have always been highly diversified both in location and specific building footprint. South Florida has been a market of large focus and we have taken advantage of several large-scale opportunities in the area. 

• How are you planning to stimulate demand for the hotel, especially when emphasis has been placed on more private spaces? Will you be targeting the leisure traveller?

We currently use multiple booking platforms, along with our own booking platform SoBeNY to stimulate demand. As the country continues to successfully roll out its vaccines, we will begin to see the traditional hotel model bounce back in popularity and Miami will continue to be a “hot” market for travellers domestically and internationally. 

The Miami location is more focused on leisure travel and therefore stays here are often times shorter than the traditional short-term rental customer. We do have a plan for kitchenettes which could create a longer stay model here for an array of travellers. This location gives us the opportunity to cater to both types of travellers. 

• I understand you have two other properties also located in Miami. How does the SoBeNY Variety Hotel differ from these?

Our other property locations are positioned as hotel licensed but are more condo-hotel accommodations and typically cater to travellers spending multiple weeks in the rentals. They all come fully equipped with kitchens, larger rooms, multi-bedroom etc. SoBeNY Variety Hotel has more of a traditional hotel feel.

• The pandemic has caused major challenges for rental companies which operate under the master lease model. How has SoBeNY navigated the past 12 months, and what makes the model sustainable? 

We have very strong relationships with our real estate partners which allowed for support and flexibility throughout the pandemic. We work with some of the largest real estate companies in the US as well as some more local firms in which we have true partnerships with. Throughout the pandemic we have been able to grow and maintain all of our relationships despite incredibly challenging circumstances. 

• What’s next for SoBeNY?

SoBeNY will continue to add to its already successful portfolio of properties in the cites in which it operates with San Diego coming online next. We are currently present in Denver, Los Angeles, Miami, Seattle, D.C., Boston and New York. 

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