October 28, 2021
By Kim Campbell

The “pop-up” trend has taken the world by storm in the last decade. Pop-up bars, restaurants, retail shops, art exhibits, entertainment venues, and even pop-up hotels have become exciting and enticing options for unique consumer experiences. You can probably imagine what a pop-up restaurant looks like, right? But, what is a pop-up hotel? How does that even work? 

In this post, we’re going to answer all your questions about what pop-up hotels are, how they rose to popularity, and why this type of hotel may be here to stay. 

What is a pop-up hotel?

A pop-up hotel is exactly what it sounds like: A hotel that pops up suddenly. Essentially, pop-up hotels are overnight accommodation options that “pop up” overnight. They are “here one day, and gone the next!”

Sometimes seemingly out of nowhere, pop-up hotels provide guests and in-the-know travellers with an exclusive opportunity to spend time in a hotel that didn’t exist yesterday and may not exist tomorrow. 

Similar to other pop-up spaces, pop-up hotels often take advantage of short-term leasing opportunities and open office spaces to create a unique customer experience. Lasting anywhere from a single night to a few days or weeks, many pop-up hotels offer accommodations that focus on combining the exclusive appeal of a pop-up experience with modern micro-living.

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What do pop-up hotels look like?

Because pop-up hotels are, by nature, temporary, many are designed with the goal of being mobile. Companies that get a lot of business from a very specific market segment, for example, may follow a festival or tour that appeals to their audience. For pop-up hotels on the move, manufactured or prefabricated structures are popular choices for property construction.

Yurts, tents, and similar shelters are common pop-up hotel room types due to their ability to be set up and broken down with relative ease. While akin to camping accommodations, pop-up hotel managers understand the difference between camping and glamping. Typically, they tend to focus more on the latter.

Pop-up hotels are commonly influenced by seasonal changes as well. Pop-up ice hotels that offer igloo-style rooms, for example, are probably only going to be available during the coldest part of the year, in the most frigid places on the planet. On-the-water pop-up hotels, or “boatels,” should move around to avoid hurricane season and other dangerous weather patterns.

Why are pop-up hotels appealing?

Research shows that 78% of millennials prefer to spend their money on experiences rather than material items. Moreover, they are willing to spend more money on one-of-a-kind opportunities than they are generic experiences.

For some travelers, pop-up hotels have become a desirable alternative to branded hotel stays. These travelers would rather spend more on a never-before-seen experience than book another vacation rental through Airbnb.

Understanding the pop-up hotel trend

Pop-up locations started to make their appearance in the retail sector in the early 2000s. Restaurants, designer clothing shops, boutiques, limited footwear line launches, and temporary art exhibits began to “pop up” in major cities across the United States. By 2016, the pop-up business industry was valued at $50 billion.

Coachella, one of the most popular and successful annual music festivals in the world, made headlines when they partnered with Marriott to provide accommodations for festival-goers. Suddenly, die-hard musical festival lovers were able to book overnight stays that offered more than tent space and a port-a-potty. The success of the partnership was seen by industry professionals across the globe.

Consumer brands and pop-up hotel marketing

Outside of the hospitality industry, many recognizable brands have taken advantage of the power that hosting a pop-up hotel can have. Brands like Taco Bell, Nutella, and even Orbitz have launched pop-up hotels that further prove the success available to ambitious hoteliers looking to expand into the market.

Taco Bell

Known for quesadillas, nachos, tacos, and a good deal, Taco Bell launched their pop-up hotel, The Bell: A Taco Bell Hotel & Resort, in 2019. One of the world’s most successful fast-food chains, Taco Bell offered guests from 21 states the opportunity to stay in their exclusive pop-hotel, float on giant hot sauce packet inflatable floats in the pool, and earn the bragging rights that came with booking a highly-anticipated room in the “tacoasis.”  The promotion sold out in two minutes.

Nutella

Nutella launched a pop-up hotel promotion in partnership with the Food Network in 2019. Hotella Nutella, the chocolate-themed hotel choice, offered 16 travelers the opportunity to experience the Nutella brand in a way that no other consumers had, or would.

The “hotella” was kindly dubbed the “ultimate weekend breakfast experience” by Nutella brand experts who understood that the hotel’s location in the Napa Valley was on the bucket list of “foodies” exploring the region.

Orbitz

The highly-regarded travel planning company Orbitz introduced its pop-up plant hotel in 2019. Why? In response to their customer survey feedback, Orbitz found that wanting to see more plants in a hotel room was one of the most common amenity preferences among Millenial travelers.

In partnership with The Kimpton Gray and the Garfield Park Conservatory, The Plant Hotel was launched as a pop-up hotel. Demand for this hotel was created by marketing to travelers interested in booking Chigaco’s Loop Neighborhood during National Indoor Plant Week.

Now you know all about pop-up hotels!

Up next, check out our lists of 13 of the world's most luxurious hotels and 17 of the world's most unique hotels

Headshot of Cvent writer Kimberly Campbell

Kim Campbell

Kim is a full-time copy and content writer with many years of experience in the hospitality industry. She entered the hotel world in 2013 as a housekeeping team member and worked her way through various departments before being appointed to Director of Sales. Kim has championed numerous successful sales efforts, revenue strategies, and marketing campaigns — all of which landed her a spot on Hotel Management Magazine’s “Thirty Under 30” list. Don’t be fooled though; she’s not all business! An avid forest forager, post-apocalyptic fiction fan, and free-sample-fiend, Kim prides herself on being well-rounded.
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