Hotels and Coworking - How Hotels Must Strike the Right Balance
The dramatic transformation in work processes has led to the mass creation of coworking spaces. These spaces generally host young and dynamic people from Gen X and Gen Y who are comfortable working remotely and communicating electronically.
Hotel Spaces And Coworking
Hotels are recognizing coworking's increasing appeal and popularity and trying to provide valuable add-ons to attract entrepreneurs, freelancers, and consultants. Places where they can come together and collaborate to create new things. Hotels are also offering value-add events such as reputed speakers, meeting with entrepreneurs of specific industries, etc. Hotel lobby design is changing to actively design coworking spaces in; a change from the ' bags and waiting foyer' to coworking being developed as a part of the hotel and therefore a segment of the layout whether that be in the lobby, the club, or the lounge space.
How To Get The Concepts and Models Right
The concepts and models for creating these spaces vary within and from one hotel to another. Some present coworking areas as an integrated feature. Others showcase it as an independent business under the same brand. Hotel coworking spaces are still experimental, and it is still unclear which model provides optimal customer satisfaction and can generate impressive additional revenue. In most hotels, access to coworking spaces is provided to guests for free or at a minimal per-hour charge using the wifi connection as the charging mechanism. The charging model is moving to offer non-guests wanting to use coworking space in a hotel a membership model option. In hotels where the management of the coworking space is outsourced to a third party, a mix of various access and payment options are used depending on the brands’ goal and vision for the long term.
Standing Out from the Crowd
Hotels offering coworking spaces are trying to establish themselves in the local community. They understand the benefits of becoming a part of the local populace and strive to achieve this goal by providing them with a place for relaxation and enjoyment. Hotels that have created a unique identity for these coworking spaces have been generally very successful in their initiative. They encourage leading boutique and lifestyle brands to participate in their coworking space. These brands find it easy to experiment with coworking spaces and let them evolve. They understand that it takes time to define and develop their coworking identity.
Coworking spaces provide hotels with the diversification they need regarding amenities and other services offered to clients. Those that have developed their own coworking space brand are designing a unique user experience such as high-end amenities like fitness rooms and relaxing spaces that match and even beat the hotel room experiences in many cases.
Hotels understand that developing coworking spaces is not only about providing a place to work. These areas must fit contextually with the hotel brand and must address the needs of the guests. Coworking is about providing quiet areas for work and vibrant regions for socializing. It is vital that hotel brands get the balance and the detailing right. We believe time will show that successful hotel brands will strike the right balance for their coworking spaces and present spaces that appeals to their guests and visitors alike.
The concept of hotels offering flexible workspace feels quite alien, yet hotels offering coworking will I expect in years to come be pretty widely accepted.
Ringley decided to lead the coworking movement at the northern gateway to Camden Town has taken off quickly and now we are building a strong community. As our Camden Gateway site is blessed with 3-meter-high windows and natural light floods into a range of small starter offices which can be combined into small business suites getting clients and companies for our coworking space has not been all that challenging. Many occupants have fled to our Camden Gateway site from LABS and Work-Life in Camden as our accommodation is simply superior.
The essence of every coworking center is community 1st. A vibrant environment for start-ups feels somewhat harder for a hotel to achieve. These days coworking demands a digital community, an identity that says something about the start-up and small businesses within. These are the foundations. It may always feel slightly more temporary inviting a prospective client to a hotel than a mainstream coworking space. Launching a digital community helps in many ways. It can:
Build brand awareness
Improve membership base
Strike local business partnerships
Give shape to the concept
Onboarding in the coworking center is the initial touch-point for members. Hotel space alone is not enough to create an engagement platform, but there are ways to do it. Emails, chat, and a Community App are all tools. At Ringley, for some years we have been generating Resident Apps to serve the Built to Rent industry and have built both a coworking portal and an app that can run coworking and flexible offices.
Ongoing Engagement is necessary to keep the community going and to keep members communicating regularly. The question is whether hotels that are used to dealing with short-term stays will have the stay in power to keep a coworking community alive long-term. It is not just about quality space rather it is about keeping the community alive. Daily updates, offers, discussion topics or votes to initiate discussion in the community are baselines to be expected. The task in hand which is quite different from being a hotelier or purveyor of quality spaces is instead to create a community.
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