6 reasons why coworking is a trend that’s here to stay.
Hotel lobbies were once the pride of posh hotels. They were a destination to see. Hotel lobbies were relegated to a pretty stretch of wasted space in recent decades that guests simply hurried through. But business travelers – unhappy with lonely, cramped workspaces in hotel rooms – and millennials – who prefer to find attractive, comfortable places to work outside an office – are giving hotel lobbies a renewed purpose.
Hoteliers are capitalizing on the coworking trend to activate their lobbies as workspaces where business travelers and solo workers can network, focus on work, and meet with clients. What was once seemingly wasted space is attracting a new audience to hotels and generating a brand-new source of revenue for their bottom lines.
Coworking spaces – defined as membership-based facilities where diverse groups of freelancers, remote workers, and other independent professionals work together in a communal setting – have been steadily growing in popularity since the mid-1990s, with an estimated 1 million spaces available worldwide.
The hospitality industry has only recently joined the game. Brands like Marriott, Wyndham, Holiday Inn, and Hilton are reconfiguring parts of their lobbies to create beyond-the-boardroom workspaces that offer amenities like high-speed Wi-Fi, meeting space, natural light, secure network connections, plenty of outlets, access to a kitchen with coffee and tea, charging stations, and even ergonomic furniture. They typically feature open spaces that can be partitioned as needed for private meetings or calls that demand a quieter area.
Most of these workspaces can be reserved for a small fee for an hour or a day, and some – like Virgin Hotels’ flagship property in downtown Chicago – offer monthly memberships aimed at locals. LiquidSpace, a marketplace for finding and booking flexible office and meeting space, reports that hotels comprise about a third of its platform, increasing by 1,060 percent within a year.
New hotel properties are taking the trend a step further, responding to the shifting priorities of travelers with smaller guest rooms complemented by expansive lobbies designed to appeal to business workers during the day and transition into social leisure spaces after dark. Coworking lounges within the lobby are a regular feature. There are some innovative options like a private office staged poolside and workspace on roof decks.
It’s easy to understand why hotels want to attract the mobile workforce. What was once a hip trend for techies and millennials has become part of the mainstream as technology allows more workers to seek location independent jobs and more startups build their business from the road. By 2020, mobile workers are expected to account for more than 70 percent of the U.S. workforce with more than 105 million people involved, according to a study by International Data Corp.
Hotels that don’t adapt to meet the needs of this population are sure to lose market share as travelers gravitate toward properties that allow them to maintain their work momentum while on the road. Here are the reasons we believe coworking is a trend that’s here to stay and a boon for your hotel property:
- It creates a place for small meetings. Large business hotels are fabulous at ballroom-sized events, but often struggle to come up with more than a sweaty water pitcher and skirted tables plunked in oversized rooms for small groups. Coworking lounges give hotels a great space to capture untapped business from groups of 25 people or less.
- The traditional hotel business center is a dinosaur. Gone are the days when business travelers were resigned to crowding into stuffy, impersonal business centers to use computers and fax machines. Today’s travelers have everything they need to work anywhere in the hotel there is Wi-Fi.
- The line is blurred between work and play. It’s a movement many call “bleisure” – blending fun with business trips – and it can lead to big business for hotel properties. A recent study by Expedia Media Solutions found that more than 40 percent of business trips in the U.S. are bleisure, which includes longer stays and more money spent on hotel amenities like spa services, restaurants, and bars. Even local remote workers can regularly pad a hotel’s bottom line if they add business drinks and lunches to their tab and stay to enjoy the hotel’s nightlife at the end of the workday.
- Non-guests will pay to use the space. Maybe it’s easier to meet clients traveling from out of town at their hotel, or maybe a coworking space is simply a better environment for meetings than a home or small office. Hotels can tap another new revenue stream from local businesses who don’t need a monthly membership but will pay hourly to use coworking space on demand.
- Hotel rooms are lonely. Working in a hotel room can be isolating and distracting if you have noisy neighbors. Many hoteliers have ditched guest room desks as they realize business travelers prefer working in communal areas that are more comfortable and offer more atmosphere than traditional business centers or hotel rooms. Guests enjoy networking with other professionals in the coworking space and relish the proximity to hotel restaurants and snack bars.
- They suit a changing lifestyle. Coworking spaces appeal to millennials, who rank among the most targeted demographic of hotel brands. Since 2015 millennials have comprised the largest share of the U.S. workforce, and hip coworking lounges are the perfect solution to capture a generation with a heavy startup and freelance culture. Their location at hotels also appeals to the millennial generation’s emphasis on striking a work/life balance. Ian Schrager’s trendy PUBLIC hotel, for example, quickly became a hotspot for Manhattan workers to get some work done during the day and stay and socialize at night with boasts about “the fastest Wi-Fi in the city.”
Coworking represents the future of the hospitality industry. Business travelers are choosing hotels based on the amenities they offer that make working on the road a seamless transition, and locals are eager to trade stuffy office buildings for comfortable, attractive space that incorporates high-tech technology and allows them to network with other professionals. Even better, carving a coworking space out of the lobby transforms a previously wasted space into a new source of steady revenue for your hotel.
More than custom furniture makers, we at Beachwood Custom are committed to great quality and design in the hospitality industry. If you’re interested in learning more about how we can enhance your design project, contact our team at Beachwood Custom. We would love the opportunity to walk you through your options.