Stay Alfred, a Washington-based short-term rental company founded by Jordan Allen in 2010, emerged as a notable player in the hospitality industry. It specialized in leasing and managing upscale properties such as apartments, condos, and lofts in desirable downtown areas across the United States. Catering to both business and leisure travelers, Stay Alfred offered well-located, high-quality accommodations with a range of amenities, distinguishing itself in the competitive travel market.
The company’s growth trajectory was impressive. By 2019, Stay Alfred had expanded its rental inventory to more than 2,500 units across 33 cities, a significant increase from 1,500 units in 32 cities at the beginning of that year. This rapid expansion was supported by substantial funding, with the company raising around $60 million, including a $47 million round in October 2018. Stay Alfred’s revenue topped $100 million in 2019, a significant leap from $66.5 million in 2018 and $25.2 million in 2016.
However, the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 had a catastrophic impact on the travel industry, leading to a sharp decline in demand for short-term rentals. Stay Alfred was particularly vulnerable due to its reliance on the travel sector. The pandemic, along with travel bans, halted the company’s revenue generation and new investor interest. As a result, Stay Alfred ceased operations in May 2020.
The company had attempted to adapt to the challenging circumstances by reducing its staff and national footprint of units. It planned to reopen for bookings by August 1, but these plans were thwarted by the ongoing impact of the pandemic. Efforts to sell off assets were unsuccessful due to the lack of buyers in the market.
Reflecting on the company’s strategy, Allen noted a “fundamental crack” in their business model. Stay Alfred primarily relied on a rental model rather than property ownership, which, in hindsight, was identified as a key vulnerability. The company had also tried to streamline its operations by downsizing its team by ten percent in late 2019, but these measures were insufficient to mitigate the effects of the pandemic.
Stay Alfred’s closure was a significant event in the entrepreneurial ecosystem of Spokane. Despite the company’s efforts to support its employees during this transition, including helping them find new employment opportunities, the shutdown marked the end of an era for a company that had shown significant potential and growth in the hospitality industry.