Hotels and coworking spaces — are these hybrids the future of hotels?

Gone are traditional business centres as hotels adapt to modern workers.

Hotel Schani Wien — coworking lobby

Coworking spaces are nothing new today, although they are becoming increasingly popular as more workers embrace location flexible jobs, and more and more startups look to build their businesses from the road.

What is less seen, however, is the combination of coworking spaces within hotels — but this, it seems, is changing. If you look at how popular these spaces have become and who they have become popular with then it’s perhaps not hard to see why the hotel industry is starting to adapt.

Those using coworking spaces are typically the younger generations who favour workplace flexibility and who are more often than not looking for travel and excitement in the way they work. The entrepreneurial and collaborative set up of these new age offices also enable workers to connect easily with like-minded individuals, setting up a fluid experience where work can combine with social activities, networking and more.

In hotels this is traditionally not something you would expect to find, but as lifestyle needs and tech advances change, more and more hotels are ditching the traditional business centre model, as they evolve to accommodate a new wave of mobile workers. Not only do these spaces open up hotels to new audiences and the community, but when charged with a fee they can be revenue generating, capitalising on existing space and activating profitable economies of scale. Revenue also filters out to other areas of the hotel such as restaurants, lobby shops, cafes and more, as visitors look to explore the facilities and remain under one roof.

We talk to a handful of hotels to find out what they’re doing and what the benefits are.

Hobo, Stockholm

Hobo hotel in Stockholm markets itself as not just a hotel, but as a new design hotel that welcomes professionals as well as visitors. Its name is even based on the travelling lifestyle of 1930’s America, with ‘hobo’ meaning a thoughtfully aware and curious person, who sees themselves as a world citizen.

Proudly displayed on the hotel website, Hobo is presented as ‘a meeting point, a workplace, an office or just a nice place to visit and hang out.’ It then says ‘and obviously you can stay here too. Check out our 201 amazing hotel rooms, all loaded up with handy gadgets you can borrow during your stay.’ The hotel also boasts a pop-up exhibition area (called SPACEby) for startups to showcase their products.

Hobo hotel communal lobby and bar

On why the hotel encourages workers, General Manager Mattias Stengl tells us that the whole ethos behind Hobo is to be a part of the community.

“The original mindset was that we would build a community as much as a hotel and that we should be truly connected to local life in Stockholm. This is something you can’t just do by writing some buzzwords in a presentation, we needed to be truly connected and to contribute something to get something back. Our start-up space SPACEby allows us to connect with local brands and start-ups ,which from a marketing perspective has resulted in long standing partnerships and us discovering suppliers or brands we may not have found before. We get great feedback from guests and brands so are very happy with what we’ve done.”

Hotel Schani Wien, Austria

Over in Vienna, Hotel Schani Wien is combining tradition with a modern way of welcoming community members as well as guests. Set bang opposite Vienna’s Central Railway Station, this trendy hotel has seized upon the idea of pairing a traditional Viennese Coffee House with modern working amenities.

Facade of Hotel Schani

To achieve this, they have integrated a coworking space into the hotel lobby including twelve desks. Hotel guests can use the space for free and locals have the possibility to choose between a 10 or 30 day coworking pass (€ 90, € 150) or rent a coworking desk for €190 per month. Coworkers are then encouraged to sign up for the hotels newsletter as an additional touch point.

The hotels PR and Marketing Director Anita Komarek, says that since introducing the coworking space three years ago, it has had a hugely positive impact on the hotel. “Our lobby is now never empty, and it’s getting more and more popular with guests and locals. On average we have up to 20 coworking passes sold at a time, and 1–2 fixed desks in use. Our guests like the technology we offer and love the atmosphere when arriving at the hotel — in our opinion coworking is the answer to new labour demands.”

Coworking space at Hotel Schani

Hotel Tryp by Wyndham, Dubai

Moving across the world to the Middle East, Hotel Tryp by Wyndham at Dubai’s Barsha Heights is also offering a fully-fledged coworking space within the hotel. The ‘NEST’ coworking space offers guests and non-guests hourly, daily, or monthly passes (for a fee), to catch up on work with like-minded individuals in a creative space. The space offers couches, tables, desks, and plenty of different areas to work. Non hotel guests (as part of the fee) can also gain access to hotel facilities — from the pool to the gym and discounts in the hotel’s restaurant helping to keep non-guests in the building.

On why the hotel included NEST, Hotel Manager Joella Moore says it was all down to the hotels location at Dubai’s Barsha Heights. “This was one of the key factors for including NEST within the hotel - the ultra-modern and dynamic district is centred on stimulating an interactive community around entrepreneurs, freelancers and businesses. Consequently, NEST was designed within the hotel to fit the needs of the modern worker,” said Moore.

She then adds that since it’s opening it has had a massively positive impact on the hotel both from a community standpoint and in terms of revenue. “It has become the go-to spot for local entrepreneurs and international business travellers in less than six months of its opening. Additionally, NEST’s audience has generated substantial revenue for TRYP Dubai’s restaurants, bars and rooms therefore yielding a greater return on investment in marketing,
brand awareness and media coverage, created by NEST’s programming events for the hotel,” she added.

Nest coworking space at Tryp by Wyndham Dubai

While coworking spaces within hotels may not suit all guests or all hotels, a sense of community is clearly achieved through opening up communal areas and encouraging local residents to use facilities as a central meeting point.

New spaces are popping up around the world including at a hotel we covered on The Hotel Stories two weeks ago — The New Esplanade Hotel in Perth. Due to open this summer 2018 after extensive renovations, the hotel’s new look and feel will include one of the city’s most flexible fully-fledged coworking spaces. The reason for its inclusion? As a key part of the hotel’s new strategy to reestablish itself as a vital part of the community.

The hotel’s ninth floor will be occupied by a dedicated 24/7 collective work space designed to enable guests and locals to be able to convene to work, meet, find inspiration and socialize. In fact, the entire hotel is designed to act as a central point for the local community, with a 24-hour lobby, comfy communal areas, rooftop bar and coffee shop all welcoming non-guests.

Let’s watch this space as the trend of coworking facilities within hotels continues to evolve.