Hospitality Investors Trust, Inc. is a self-managed real estate investment trust ("REIT") that invests primarily in premium-branded select-service lodging properties in the United States. We were incorporated on July 25, 2013 as a Maryland corporation and elected to be taxed as a REIT beginning with the taxable year ended December 31, 2014. As of December 31, 2018, we own or have an ownership interest in a total of 144 hotels, with a total of 17,321 guestrooms in 33 states.
We believe in affiliating our hotels with premium brands owned by leading international franchisors such as Hilton, Marriott and Hyatt. These brands represent the delivery of consistently high-quality hotel accommodations with value-oriented pricing that we believe appeals to a wide range of customers, including both business and leisure travelers. As of December 31, 2018, all but one of our hotels operated under a franchise or license agreement with a national brand owned by one of Hilton Worldwide, Inc., Marriott International, Inc., Hyatt Hotels Corporation and Intercontinental Hotels Group or one of their respective subsidiaries or affiliates. Our one unbranded hotel has a direct affiliation with a leading university in Atlanta.
We have primarily acquired lodging properties in the upscale select-service, upscale extended stay and upper midscale select-service chain scale segments located in secondary markets with strong demand generators, such as state capitals, major universities and hospitals, as well as corporate, leisure and retail attractions. We believe properties in these chain scale segments can be operated with fewer employees and provide more stable cash flows than full service hotels, and with less market volatility than similar hotels in primary market locations.