Is this way of working for hotels what take-away means for restaurants?
Never before has the hospitality industry had to endure such a hard time. No management book offers solutions for this. But as entrepreneurs, we cannot just stand by. We have to move forward.
As a parasol coach, I come to very different places and see how hotel owners see and create opportunities. They achieve extra turnover where others see no way forward. I would like to provide you with some insights and tools for co-working. Because for those who wait, everything always comes too late.
What do you learn in this article?
- In this blog we first look at co-working as a business model.
- During the COVID-19 crisis, many people are working from home, but they discover that this is not always the ideal operating base. A co-working space then offers an attractive answer to many of the challenges of working from home.
- We discuss afterwards why hotels are ideal co-working spaces due to their infrastructure, location and experience.
- We then sum up how you can easily and efficiently adapt your hotel to accommodate flex workers.
- Finally, we look at some successful examples of smart hotels that generate more turnover by responding to co-working.
Co-working as a business model
Tourism has come to a virtual standstill. Business tourism is suffering even more. Covid-19 leads to harsh measures and hygienic rules (closed borders, travel restrictions, compulsory homeworking). Meanwhile, companies discover that video conferencing and the good old telephone are good methods of doing business. Will business tourism ever fully recover?
Make good use of lost time
I myself regularly work in hotels (even before Covid hit us). I often travel to make appointments with an agent or with clients. In the morning you sometimes have a couple hours off without an appointment. When I have a good desk and a decent chair in my room, I order a pot of coffee to work a few hours. If I can’t work in my room, I usually find a good spot in the lobby or the salon.
Nowadays you often see inviting workplaces in the foyer of a hotel. Because I always have my laptop and papers with me (in case I want or have to work), I like to make use of it as well.
Working from home is sometimes difficult
Because let’s face it : (compulsory) homeworking is not always obvious. But probably a keeper. Offices close or limit the number of people present. People love to work from home for once, but it also presents challenges.
Children need our attention and help, pets disrupt meetings, cooking for the whole family has to be done and then washing up and cleaning are also awaiting. All at the same time and all the time.
Advantages and disadvantages of working from home
The benefits of teleworking and working from home are likely to make it a keeper:
- No frustrating traffic jams.
- Less time lost due to commuting.
- Companies need less office space.
- Less disruption (at least if you have a suitable space).
But there are also disadvantages to working from home:
- Distinction between work and private life is eliminated.
- Many homes are not suitable: working at the kitchen table is not ideal.
- Less structure in your life.
If we can eliminate the disadvantages, there are many possibilities. In my opinion, hotels can perfectly fill a gap in the market here. Their location, infrastructure and experience in hospitality make them an ideal place for teleworking.
Mix of generations and organizations
Especially younger generations use co-working spaces because they appreciate the great flexibility. Co-working gives them a smooth experience in which they can find like-minded people. In a flexible framework they find a good combination of work, social contact and networking.
These hubs of cooperation also have the atmosphere of a community, of working and learning together. Through the smart and multiple use of buildings, co-working also scores well on ecological impact and sustainability. These issues are very important for the younger generations.
The flex workers who opt for co-working work for a wide variety of companies and projects. As a result, there is little direct competition or political stuff that may affect their work. So they can just be themselves, which is positive for the final result.
Cooperation and cross-pollination
Through the collection of different talented people in a co-working environment and the informal atmosphere of working together, there is much more exchange and mutual help. Individuals and projects create a cross-fertilisation that is often difficult to achieve with classical networks.
Another great advantage is the feeling of control.
- The workspaces are often open 24/7.
- As a result, users can decide for themselves whether to work late to meet a deadline or take a break during the day for walking, swimming or sports (in the hotel spa!).
- There is also the convenient choice of a quiet room to concentrate
- or at least an interactive place full of cooperation and inspiration.
In this way, users of the workspaces also get a better grip on the work-life balance, which is another important point for the emerging generation of employees who are looking for better solutions.
Hotels as the ideal co-working hub
Restaurants that have to close down now focus on takeaway food. Can hotels help homeworkers by offering them a good workspace? By doing so, they can generate some extra income to get through this difficult period. Will this also be a source of income for the future?
High demand for flexible working environments
Demand for flexible office space has increased by +21% annually over the last decade and shows no signs of slowing down. With so many people looking for decent flexible workplaces, huge economic opportunities are opening.
These itinerant employees are already working in coffee shops, restaurants or existing co-working venues. Hotels can perfectly match the trend and offer their spaces as quality places for both local businesses and business travelers.
Use unused space
Why? Hotels have a lot of space. Rooms, lobbies as well as meeting rooms. Many of these spaces can be used even better. Now they are empty for part of the time. Many rooms are not used during the day and it is only busy at the lobby when the evening falls. They can often relatively easily be transformed into flexible working environments.
Wifi, electric current and space
Flexworkers are mainly looking for
- the possibility of recharging their devices
- a place to get some work done
- coffee or lunch are nice, but often not even necessary
- A great deal can therefore be achieved with a minimum staffing level.
For those who have been working from home for months, a collaborative workplace brings even more advantages. Not only can you work concentrated without distractions from your housemates, co-working also gives you structure and discipline that motivate you. You see other people working and pausing and get absorbed in the rhythm. Think of students who are working together in the library. Together alone at work, as it were. In this way, these bases provide an ideal combination of freedom and structure.
Hotels offer infrastructure, know-how and accessibility
When looking at a hotel, you will notice that they are very well placed to receive teleworkers in a flexible way.
Hotels generally have a lot of space available such as
- a spacious lobby and reception area
- restaurant and coffee shop
- meeting rooms and exhibition halls
- spa and recreation
- in addition, of course, there are the rooms themselves
Think about how you can give your customers opportunities to connect with each other. Can you arrange your space in such a way that clients can both find a quiet place and find each other for cooperation? How can you support the flow of people in an optimal way for these forms of working? Also think about how the services that generate your margin can benefit from this activity.
Co-working in the lobby
All these places can easily be adjusted in clever and profitable way during a pandemic with lockdown rules. Part of the common areas can be set up as co-working environments. Reinforce the wifi network and set up separate tables with a good chair, a power socket and, if possible, hygienic and/or acoustic shielding. The coffee machine of the breakfast buffet and a water cooler provide caffeine and refreshment.
Making rooms profitable
And why not also rent out empty rooms for those looking for silence or privacy? With some minor logistical adjustments, a number of rooms can be prepared for teleworkers after check-out. The room is available and already equipped with table, chair and wifi.
- Rent rooms for a part of the day or a full working day.
- Work out a subscription formula for people who want to work a few days a week quietly and in peace
- Offer coffee service (whether or not included in the daily price).
- Suggest an inexpensive and healthy lunch formula in the restaurant.
This creates a win-win situation: customers don’t waste time looking for a meal and the occupancy rate of your restaurant increases with the new visitors.
The income for hotels also goes beyond revenues from room rental only
- Attract people who work in your lobby or in a room to your bar or restaurant.
- (Extra) shops in the lobby generate more turnover in this one-stop-shop formula.
- Offer extra services that are already organised in your hotel. Think about it: washing and ironing clothes, room service, postal service, printing service, delivery of parcels, …
The terrace for pleasant consultation
Many hotels have a beautiful terrace where customers can eat outside, have a drink and meet each other. This is also an excellent place to set up workplaces and meeting rooms. Especially in times of social distancing, the terrace is an ideal place for consultation. No other room in your hotel is so well ventilated!
Does a terrace seem less attractive during cold seasons? Not at all. Winter terraces are more popular than ever. They create an extra atmosphere during dark days and with a few simple interventions your customers will be enjoying a cosy and warm ambience
Place quality parasols on the terrace. Thanks to their waterproof fabric, they not only keep your customers dry, they are the basis for any winter terrace. In a sturdy and well anchored parasol, you can safely mount heating systems to keep your guests warm.
Built-in lighting provides extra atmosphere and a sense of cosiness. And why not also provide soft cushions and fleece blankets to transform your terrace completely into the hot spot of your hotel. Did someone there call for a mulled wine and a hot chocolate?
To give Corona no chance, you can also provide the terrace with Corona Safe Sails. This way you lose less space and your guests can still enjoy safely.
Do you want more turnover in the winter? Then be sure to read our tips for scoring with a winter terrace.
As a hotel you have a huge advantage over the co-working spaces which is booming business now.
- You’re experienced in the hospitality sector
- Welcoming and pampering customers is in your DNA
- the existing software for registration and billing can be used
- Existing facilities such as catering, concierge services and sanitary facilities can be used optimally.
During Covid’s tourism vacuum period, there will certainly be possibilities for these extra activities. But even without a pandemic, the off peak hours of a hotel (between 09:00 and 17:00) can be used to generate extra income.
Society changes and those who can adapt to these changing environments will reap the benefits of it.
Another big advantage of hotels is their accessibility. Many hotels are close to easily accessible places. They connect to public transport or you can easily get there from the motorway. Parking facilities are also often well provided.
But hotels that are a bit further away from the city bustle can also do their best. Entrepreneurs will find peace and quiet and a different environment to focus on their strategic work, often for several days.
A friend of mine is the manager of a fast growing technology company and occasionally books space in a hotel to concentrate for a few days. Some times to think and work undisturbed, away from the concers of everyday life.
A nice example is Auberge de la Maison in Courmayeur, where a small chalet in the garden has been set up as a workspace for guests. https://www.aubergemaison.it/en/meeting-space/
Depending on the type of hotel, you can highlight a working residency of different lengths. A few examples:
- An active day in a city hotel.
- A week of concentrated work in isolation in a quiet hotel.
- Possibility to rent space per day or in a subscription formula.
Offering workplaces will not become the core business for most hotels after the corona crisis. But it can certainly be an interesting additional source of income. And a relevant added value for hotel guests. This offer can be interesting not only for hotel guests but also for people from the surrounding area who do not come to stay but only come to work during the day. International examples show that the positive impact on the figures is certainly worthwhile.
Dayuse is a platform with app. You’ll find hotels where you can rent a room for a day or a few hours. Despite the global crisis, Dayuse is doing particularly well.
“Room rental is growing at double-digit rates, despite the stagnation of tourism. That is thanks to teleworkers. We welcomed up to 40% of new customers in the segment of ‘more comfortable workplaces'”. David Lebée – CEO Dayuse
How do you do it?
What is needed?
- Excellent wifi
- Hygienic environment
- IT security
- Sufficient sockets
- Good furniture (chair, table, desk)
- Quiet environment (also think of the acoustics)
- Meeting place (respecting Covid rules)
- Use your terrace as a well-ventilated meeting space
- Logistical planning (reservations, invoicing, communication)
- Can you arrange 24/7 access for freedom of choice of working hours?
- Subscription or all-in formula.
- Use of fitness facilities and spa
- Use of swimming pool and other accommodation
- Using lounges as reception areas for customers or visitors
- Coffee machine or buffet with small healthy snacks and fruit
- Room service
- Can you stimulate cooperation in order to bring added value to your guests?
- Washing and ironing clothes.
- Post service and delivery of parcels.
- Think about how you can respond to local networking
Key to your business model
As a hotel, you do not necessarily only have to rent out extra rooms. It’s not just about filling holes. Dare to think outside the box and transform your existing business model into something new.
That’s how mixed forms between hospitality and working are doing well. A good example of this is “The Student Hotel” in Amsterdam. A catchy mix of student rooms, hotel rooms, co-working, meeting rooms and events. You can rent rooms there for a month or a year and the parents stay overnight when visiting their student at the hotel. You will also find co-working rooms and meeting rooms in addition to relaxation and sports facilities. To pamper their clients even better, they also provide a postal service, laundry service, a gym, bike rental and much more.
Maybe you can work together with a co-working hub in your area? Start by exchanging ideas or make use of each other’s space, expertise and network to offer customers the best solution 24/7.
Shared workspaces in hotels not only attract a younger audience, they also connect with local communities in a way that didn’t really work out at enterprise centres. So be sure to consult with local authorities and other players in the area to see if this support of the local network has value for them as well so that they can get involved.
Examples of co-working in existing hotels
Hobo in Stockholm
Hobo presents itself as a “meeting point, workshop, office or place to hang out”. They offer 201 rooms with handy gadgets that you can use during your stay. There are exhibitions in the lobby and the restaurant is cheerfully crowded. https://hobo.se/about/
Hotel Schani in Vienna
Hotel Schani resembles a coffee house combined with modern workplaces. You’ll find co-working in the lobby (free for hotel guests, for local residents they offer passes for 10 or 30 days at €9 & €50) or a desk for €190 a month. Hotel Schani works to create a community and encourages everyone to register for the hotel newsletter).
The hotel’s PR and marketing director, Anita Komarek, says that since the introduction of the co-working room three years ago, there has been a big positive effect on the hotel. “Our lobby is now never empty and is becoming increasingly popular with guests and locals alike. Our guests love the technology and the atmosphere we offer when they arrive at the hotel – in our opinion, co-working is the answer to the new demands regarding “working”. https://www.hotelschani.com/wien/
Hotel Tryp in Dubai
In Hotel Tryp in Dubai you will find the NEST co-working room. Hotel guests and non-guests can opt for an hour, a day or a month pass to catch up on work with like-minded people in the creative room. In NEST there are sofas, tables, desks and many different spaces to work in. Non-hotel guests can also have access to hotel facilities: from the swimming pool to the gym. Discount vouchers for the hotel restaurant encourage non-hotel guests to stay in the building. The hotel achieved a remarkable increase in income by encouraging an interactive community around entrepreneurs, freelancers and businesses. In less than six months, it has become the place to be for local entrepreneurs and international business travellers. In addition, NEST’s audience has generated significant income for TRYP Dubai’s restaurants, bars and rooms. Investments in marketing and branding have been boosted by NEST’s activities at the hotel. https://www.trypwyndhamdubai.com/nest/
ZOKU in Amsterdam and Kopenhagen
ZOKU responds to people who go crazy at home. You can go there for a day, a month or even a year in various formulas (such as co-working day pass or private workloft). (€60 per day, including lunch) Every day there is a half-hour free coffee break with community meetup. https://livezoku.com/work/
Sheraton (by Marriott) renovates 400 of their lobbies to make them more adaptable to flexible working. For example “productivity tables” with USB ports, closets to rent and lots of power sockets. (Workspace@Sheraton)
Moxy Hotels (also part of the Mariott group) are comfortable daytime co-working areas for the independent worker or business traveller. In the evening they are transformed into a meeting place for members. Moxy Hotels
The Student Hotel
This mixture of student rooms, co-working and hotel provides a refreshing mix. In addition to workspaces and meeting rooms, relaxation and sports, you will also find a postal service, laundry service, a gym, bicycle rental and much more.
Auberge de la Maison in Courmayeur
In Auberge de la Maison, a small chalet has been set up in the garden as a workspace for guests. Lovely, quiet and enclosed in the mountains, you can work and plan your work. https://www.aubergemaison.it/en/meeting-space/