How hotels are becoming better places to work
AAs the weeks go by, it becomes increasingly clear that many workers do not want to return to the factory-inspired ideal of sitting in a desk five days a week. But it’s also apparent that many don’t necessarily want to sit at home five days a week either. It’s no surprise, then, that money is being invested in “third places”: spaces that offer an attractive environment, a bite to eat, and perhaps a bit of socializing.
This is a change that has not gone unnoticed in the hospitality industry. Badly treated during periods of pandemic, many hotels are now betting that the routines established in the crisis have permanently changed the way we travel, whether for work or for pleasure (or increasingly for both). ).
Some of the changes to come: larger rooms with well-equipped desks to further incentivize guests to book longer stays that combine work and play; co-working spaces or dedicated co-working floors; memberships to encourage local workers to book work trips away from home; ventilated outdoor spaces. If the hotels are successful, the acronym WFH could develop a whole new meaning.
Business conferences will likely return (and already are). Quick road warrior trips to singular meetings probably won’t.
These are ideas from Adam Patrizia, with whom we spoke recently. Patrizia is an experienced hospitality consultant who previously worked as a guest relationship manager at André Balazs’ US properties and as a marketing director at Hotel Insider. Here are excerpts from our conversation, edited for space and clarity:
How are hotels adapting to changes in the way we work and travel?
The pandemic accelerated what was a natural progression in the hospitality industry. There has been this movement towards very large convention and resort style hotels and very small experiential lifestyle hotels. The industry was bifurcating towards these poles, and in the middle we started losing these boutique-style hotels that weren’t really serving a purpose anymore.
Much of the change has been towards creating more thoughtful and private spaces. For example, instead of having Gyms relegated to the basement or afterthought, they are moving them to spaces with windows. They are moving the fitness to the rooms. Hotels under development are actually increasing the size of rooms to accommodate the fitness room. They make a hotel less about eating and sleeping and more about moving around and feeling comfortable for longer.
It’s a real adaptation that the industry has embraced, especially with new construction and renovations: bigger and more spacious housing that allows you to work from the room, comfortable desks rather than an afterthought, space to stretch and train. Extrapolating on this, hotels are also removing rooms from their inventory and creating workspaces so that if someone wants to work from the hotel, they don’t necessarily have to work at the desk in the room or from the restaurant. Business centers are a thing of the past.
Why are business centers a thing of the past? I think of business centers as places where you work outside of your bedroom.
A better way to put it is that there has been an evolution from the business center to a coworking space. If you need to print something, it’s not just in a room that you go to get something on the printer. You’re not sitting next to a printer with an outdated monitor. You are in a beautifully designed coworking space. Younger brands like The Hoxton and Pendry do this very well by incorporating these spaces into the lobby and food areas.
The pandemic has also accelerated the need for outdoor spaces. Everyone thought the way to go was to lock in guest traffic so you’re kind of a hamster going through all the different venues, with limited outdoor spaces, kind of like a Las Vegas model. It is sometimes difficult to find outdoor spaces in urban spaces in particular, but there is now a real consumer desire and need to even have a terrace to work on, windows that open if they are legal, or a open-air spa is the hottest trend. now.
There is a real movement to integrate real wellness programs into the hotel offer. The pandemic has just accelerated a natural progression of what a hotel was moving towards. A hotel has become a community hub again instead of those developer bank accounts that go to communities and just try to make money, hand in hand, for whoever owns it. Hotels were originally founded as hostels, and they were meant to introduce travelers to the local community and the local community to the world. It’s now an unspoken narrative within the hospitality industry: that we want to get back to making people feel protected, welcome, engaged and, in the end, give them a good night’s sleep.
You made reference to people staying longer. Is it because people add working days to their holidays?
We all thought, “Is it great to work from home? Then all of a sudden we realized, “Wait, it’s wonderful to work from home, once in a while.
Going somewhere is really nice. Hotels value this, and they want people to use them for work. They want it to be possible to stay longer and work in hotels. This not only includes special work rates or special working packages from the hotel (literally WFH), but also the use of rooms and areas that were not normally used as workspaces. They say it can really be a wonderful ‘workcation’ – you can use the spa and use this trainer while you’re here – to try and attract people this way.
How much is for local traffic? Guests “I’m really fed up with the guests of my house” compared to air traffic?
That’s a great question, but it’s an unknown. City hotels, in particular, are trying to target locals who don’t have offices to get out of their homes and use their hotels as workplaces. Then there are the fly-ins, which resorts target very, very heavily. For example, the Caribbean has a huge program for people to come for months at a time and stay in hotels. Palm Heights, a Grand Cayman hotel, is an all-suite hotel and aims for people to stay for a month. It all depends on the type of hotel and the target, but if I could stay in a hotel for three days once a month and it made sense financially, I would. That would be great.
How do hotels approach congresses? Do they think they will come back?
Conventions will never go anywhere – they just make too much money. The way we buy, sell and present products is too heavily based on convention. The huge hotel, the huge ballrooms and the huge conference centers will return. They have already returned. It’s just about doing the necessary science requirements and then some acting to make people feel good.
What won’t come back are those 16-hour business trips, where someone wants you to go to a meeting just to meet face-to-face with the rest of the team. Those are gone. Nobody does that anymore. This is a huge cost saving from a business perspective. Hotels that cater to this type of business will suffer and are already suffering. They are trying very hard to change their business model. To be frank, aren’t we all glad that those air trips for a meeting are a thing of the past?
As hotels try to become coworking spaces, are they considering memberships?
Many hotels have created their own clubs or membership tiers. This is different from a loyalty level. Some hotels create an entire floor for coworking, and they’ll sell a membership to that. This could get you use of the fitness center, a discount on the spa, or discounts on room rates. Some hotels create full-fledged membership clubs themselves, such as the Rosewood created Carlyle & Co., which launched in Hong Kong and is a unique membership club. Marriott creates its own members club. There is a Loews members club.
Every brand is currently creating a membership club, whether it incorporates sociability, maneuverability, or both remains to be seen, but the purpose of membership clubs is to make people feel comfortable with insurance. that they are surrounded by like-minded people. This underscores the division of life in our world at this time. You don’t want to be around divisive people, so people feel comfortable that way. Membership clubs are a real psychological, philosophical and social need right now. They appear at all economic levels.