Sentral is changing the definition of home, thanks to dialed-in design and service elements adapted from the hospitality industry. Photo of a fire pit at Sentral DTLA by James Baigrie.
Working Towards a More Flexible Future
We’re all aware that the way we live, work, and travel has dramatically shifted the past couple of years, and for many of us, there’s no going back. While you may be thinking about how to handle hybrid work — or deciding to forgo the office for good — Sentral has already figured out the next steps in blending home, work, life, and travel. Sentral’s CEO, Jon Slavet, spoke about how he and his team are
redefining the concept of home
and what’s in store for Sentral in 2022.
BY PETER FRANK
What aspects of the Sentral experience have resonated most with consumers since you launched in July?
We get a tremendous number of five star reviews every month, and they often mention three highlights. One is design and functionality:
Our residents really appreciate our designer-furnished units. Compared to corporate housing or other brands with a short-stay or flexible living offering,
our quality and design
is already really dialed in, and it's just getting better. Our “Version 2.0” designer-furnished unit is going to start rolling out next year, and it’s going to take things to the next level.
Next, the level of service and hospitality we're offering is very different from what consumers expect from the typical experience in a traditional multifamily building. Our teams are trained in our 48 brand standards that cover everything from communicating with empathy to how our communities look and feel. The goal is to empower residents and guests to live life on their own terms.
Finally, people are connecting with the community network. As the Sentral network grows, and someone can Live and Stay in an ever-expanding number of communities, from Atlanta to Austin to Downtown L.A., it makes their experience with Sentral even more enriching and flexible.
With unfurnished and designer-furnished options, residents can choose the living space that works best for their lifestyle. Photo of Sentral Seattle First Hill by James Baigrie.
How far has the Sentral brand come since launch? What are your proudest moments?
When I started, we had one location in Denver, now called
Sentral Union Station
, and about 30 employees. Fast forward to today, and we have 10 locations in seven markets (including a new community being announced early 2022) and our team is approaching a couple hundred people. We launched the brand and
on July 19 of this year. Most importantly, we’ve rolled out our business model — what we call Live and Stay — across these different communities, and we've seen an overwhelmingly positive response. Mobile professionals are excited about a flexible option that provides all the comforts of home for a few nights, a few months — or as long as they want.
There's a lot of talk about the Great Resignation and how flexible work arrangements might become permanent. It seems like Sentral fits right into that paradigm. Has that evolved at all since you launched?
As companies figure out
work from home vs. work from the office
, the desire for people to “geo-shift” their lives and have flexible, on-demand workspaces is continuing to grow. The fact that Sentral offers any length of stay, from a night to a quarter to a year-plus, caters to the broad and growing audience that wants to live, work, and travel in a different way.
I'd say that these trends were percolating pre-COVID, shifted forward during COVID, and now they're just accelerating.
A work-from-home set-up at Sentral Seattle First Hill. Photo by James Baigrie.
How are you feeling about economic trends such as inflation and increasing housing prices?
One trend we’re certainly well positioned for is meeting the significant portion of our population — especially our core millennial customer base — who either can't afford a house or prefer the ease of renting. They want that flexibility. Fundamentally, what's driving our business is a change in how people want to structure their lives. We're catering to a professional who's often mobile and is traveling for love, for work, for leisure, and who wants to be ‘CEO of their life.’
We also have people going through life transitions who want a flexible solution. But this idea of redefining home — home is when you belong, as we like to say — is at the core of what we're doing. Home is where I want to be, it's where I feel connected. I can make home where I want.
Where will Sentral go from here?
The first thing that's going to happen is a lot of growth.
We're in seven markets now
, with an eighth coming soon and many new cities coming online in great locations through 2022. That creates an even more valuable network for Sentral customers to Live and Stay in.
The second thing we're looking at is what we call our “welcome home” experience, which is making the process of moving in and moving across our network seamless. A companion to that is bundling the core services that you need to make your life seamless and flexible, like cleaning, so you can access them on demand.
We're going to offer our customers many more amenities and experiences, including launching high-tech, curated vending kiosks, so you can get everything from fresh food items to earbuds.
We're also looking at bringing interesting coffee experiences into our communities, because everyone lives on coffee. We’re planning events and activations to bring the community together: — whether a person is in
Sentral First Hill Seattle
Sentral Downtown Los Angeles
, if it's Thursday night, there's probably a ritual or an activity that they want to experience as they travel the Sentral network. Those kinds of experiences are going to start being available by mid 2022.
A rooftop mural in the works at Sentral Wynwood in Miami. Photo by Also Dept.
How do you ensure that those types of experiences reflect the local vibe and character of each location?
While we have brand guidelines for the quality and consistency of experiences, we will identify local partners to bring into the community. One initiative that I'm very excited about is Sentral’s new artist in residence program. We'll be identifying artists, many of them from local communities, to live at Sentral and bring their work into the apartments and common spaces. Another example of how we incorporate the local spirit into our communities is the installation happening at
in Miami right now. Of course, that neighborhood is famous for its street art, so we commissioned a very cool mural by artist Joe Geis that our customers will be able to see from their apartments once it’s complete.
Any other big objectives for 2022?
One is better understanding our customers’ needs and making sure Sentral meets those needs. We continually engage with our customers to learn more about the areas where they crave more flexibility, and how Sentral can adapt to serve their lifestyles. We want to help make their lives easier and make travel more accessible.
The other is our team and team engagement. In the midst of the Great Resignation, with people looking differently at how and where they work and the meaning of it all, our aim is to
build the best company to work for
in our space. That’s about bringing the right people in to begin with, offering high-quality training and enrichment, and giving them tools and systems to deliver the experience to customers — so they can focus on what matters, which is more human connection. Making Sentral an amazing place to grow is a big priority.
STYLISH SPACES, PREMIUM AMENITIES, LOCATIONS IN THE MOST DESIRABLE URBAN NEIGHBORHOODS. SENTRAL LETS YOU LIVE LIFE ON YOUR OWN TERMS.
LEARN MORE ABOUT LIFE AT SENTRAL
MORE TO EXPLORE:
How We’re Redefining the Concept of Home
The Future of Flexible Living Depends on Great Design
Navigating the New Normal of Work/Life Balance