As more businesses recognize the benefits of remote working practices, the demand for flexible working space has increased significantly in cities around the world, opening the doors to new opportunities – and revenue – for hoteliers.
The emerging concept? The so-called coworking hotel.
According to a recent Stanford University study, 66 percent of companies now embrace remote working policies with 16 percent of corporations choosing to be entirely remote, relying on digital communications and reserving ad-hoc meeting spaces to complete important business tasks. No wonder why the likes of Marriott and Accor have already invested in revamping areas of their hotels to create productive, yet aesthetically pleasing, flexible workspaces.
However, if you are also thinking about venturing into this fast-growing market, it’s important to have a clear strategy in place. According to JLL, to create a coworking hotel that works you must design an environment that appeals to broader groups of people, including your existing loyal clientele, and not just high-flying business executives.
So, how is this achievable?
Utilize unused lobby space
Jessica Jahns, head of EMEA research, hotels & hospitality, at JLL, says the hotel lobby is an ideal space to renovate into a sociable coworking space as it is often underutilized but still generates a lot of footfall. Lobby areas also typically feature large, comfortable furnishing - ideal for working and holding casual meetings. And lastly, the lobby is generally close to the hotel’s main amenities, such as the bar and restaurant, giving flex- working professional easy access to refreshments.
Deliver a productive space
Lauro Ferroni, director of capital markets research at JLL, says having the right components in place to deliver a productive coworking space is essential. Think of the facilities that are available in city centre office buildings and bring them to your hotel. For instance, comfortable chairs and spacious tables with conveniently placed power outlets and lamps are a must. Other prerequisites include: printing equipment and reliable Wi-Fi. Hoteliers also must provide the ability to book private conference rooms and meetings spaces.
Create a balance
To cater to the needs of business executives, leisure guests and community members, it is important to design a space that blends together different environments. The key is to create a lively environment with background music for socializing and networking while also offering peaceful areas for lounging and checking emails. Interestingly, Aytan Litwin, chief executive of White Space, a firm that specializes in custom interiors for hospitality and commercial spaces, says that ‘’the lobby is the new public square,’’ where it is possible to collaborate, work, socialize and relax.
Create a payment model that works for your hotel
Hotels are pursuing a variety of coworking initiatives. The Virgin Hotel in Chicago, for example, embraces a monthly membership model for its coworking space, which gives members the ability to book private spaces, access the library, connect to Wi-Fi and enjoy free drinks at the bar. The Sheraton Park Lane Hotel, among others, offers a Spacemize, passport-style system that offers users flexible access to a range of coworking spaces in the city. However, Lauro Ferroni, director of capital markets research at JLL, says that you don’t necessarily need to charge visitors to use the coworking space at all. Leaving it open and accessible to all encourages traffic to on-site bars and restaurants and establishes a more welcoming and sociable atmosphere that helps foster brand awareness and loyalty.
With the space, traffic, location and means to cater to a diverse working professionals, coworking is a natural fit for the hotel industry. Does it fit you?