Hotels have always played an inherent role in business. Corporate travel is essential to any company’s success Traditionally, hotels have hosted employees when they hit the road to secure new clients, attend a conference, or wine and dine important partners.
In the past, these spaces served a common purpose. Businessmen are happy to have a comfortable pillow at the end of a long day. Hotels that boast a fitness center or a decent bar and restaurant are ahead of the pack.
But the arrival of the Covid-19 pandemic has changed the future of work forever. Today 74% of US businesses have adopted or plan to adopt a hybrid work model, and their teams are more dispersed than ever.
This new approach has advantages. Employees have a better work/life balance, with surveys revealing that 83% of American workers prefer a hybrid arrangement. Meanwhile, companies are no longer bound by location when it comes to finding top talent.
But as employees work away from the office (at least some of the time), businesses are rethinking how they bring their teams together. Both company retreats for creative brainstorming sessions and offsites to shake up the surroundings are on the rise. Depending on the location of colleagues, it may be more feasible for teams to assemble away from headquarters for the training and onboarding process.
As the list of reasons for business travel grows, hotels will continue to be an important place. But how is this aspect of the hospitality industry adapting to the demands of hybrid workers?
1. They are changing their room features
As the world slowly comes out of lockdown, hotels have made drastic changes to ensure safe stays. Properties have rethought their room configurations to provide more in-room amenities, offering fitness equipment and musical instruments to enhance their experience while avoiding excessive interaction with other guests.
While travelers may be less inclined to stay separate, hotels are sticking with the concept of well-appointed guestrooms. European chain Zoku aims to transform the concept of hotel rooms with its pioneering loft design. Boasting a chic décor that guests can personalize, the compact suite is designed with the corporate traveler in mind. Each room has a fully equipped kitchen, including a table for four, a comfortable lounge area and a separate desk nook with office supplies.
2. They are targeting the third space market
While a home office has its benefits, it can be lonely. As humans, we crave interaction and without it we lose motivation. But in the hybrid working world, commuting to HQ or another company hub may not always be possible or desirable.
Employees may seek the benefits of space away from the distraction of other coworkers. But may prefer a location where they have access to communal areas rather than the solitary confines of their kitchen. Fulfilling this desire is where hotels have the potential to dominate what is known as the third space market.
Originally embodied by coffee shop culture, the concept of the “third space” is defined as a location that operates in the gap between home and office. As more hotel chains realize the value of offering an inviting, functional and inspiring venue for hybrid employees, the nature of the audience they seek to attract is changing. Rather than luring long-distance corporate guests, the Third Place concept also taps into a local community that may be tired of the isolation of working from home.
With this new market in mind, many hotels are incorporating chic coworking spaces into their offerings. For example, Wyndham launched the NEST Business Center at their Dubai property. Open to hotel guests and non-guests alike, visitors can reserve space on an hourly, daily or monthly basis.
Where hotels can differentiate themselves from traditional coworking spaces is the range of additional amenities they already have on hand. In Bangkok, a number of properties have creatively pivoted in recent years to offer day passes to remote workers to compensate for the lack of tourism. Holiday Inn provides employees seeking an alternative environment with complimentary tea and coffee and free use of wellness facilities. Meanwhile, Siam Kempinski offers a 12-hour day-use package, which includes a private suite, a complimentary mini-bar and a three-course lunch at the hotel restaurant.
3. They are establishing themselves as an alternative headquarters
While larger companies may still have a physical office space, smaller hybrid businesses may eschew real estate altogether. With remote work distributing employees across the country or even the world, companies can increasingly turn to hotel meeting rooms as a new coworking space for their employees.
Unlike traditional coworking spaces, hotels can offer more flexibility in their pricing. Avoiding monthly or weekly membership models, companies can rent meeting space for as long as they need, while benefiting from comfortable rooms and central locations for their teams.
In the past, hotel business facilities often lacked inspiration and were usually limited to large conference rooms. As corporate needs evolve, so do hotels adding more flexible workspaces. Following the coworking concept, hoteliers are focusing on function, creating brainstorming spaces with expansive whiteboards for teams to come together and tackle creative challenges together. Gone are the days of meeting in hotel lobbies. Private lounge areas are now provided for conducting comfortable interviews or onboarding sessions.
4. They are offering subscription services for added benefits
In the next iteration of hotel hospitality brands offer monthly subscription services that give users various bonuses. Whether these initiatives will provide substantial additional benefits to rival traditional points-based loyalty programs remains to be seen, but it is an interesting development in the hotel industry.
For example, CitizenM has launched its mycitizenM+ package, which guarantees users free upgrades, late check-out and preferred rates for booking more than 48 hours in advance. MycitizenM+ members can also queue with their customer service agents and take advantage of exclusive events and experiences.
5. They are encouraging long-term stays
75% of millennial workers see the opportunity to travel as a major perk of their job, with 65% viewing business travel as a status symbol. With the opportunity to explore new destinations a major motivator for most of the workforce, many businesses have become more flexible in allowing their employees to extend work trips into their spare time.
As a result, more than 40% of business travel itineraries are now extended to include some holiday time. To take advantage of this latest travel trend, hotel chains are announcing special deals to entice corporate travelers to extend their stay. An example of this comes from the globally renowned Hyatt, which launched its ‘Work from Hyatt’ initiative.
For stays of five nights or more, guests can benefit from many amenities, including;
- A complimentary second guestroom to serve as a guaranteed personal workspace or office.
- Zero resort fee.
- Complimentary fast Wi-Fi.
- Free or discounted laundry service.
- One daily credit per food and beverage.
- Free parking.
- Packages can be paid for and more loyalty points can be collected for World of Hyatt members.
On the other hand, boutique hotel brand Selina has taken a different approach. With properties across four continents, Selina encourages entrepreneurs, freelancers and remote workers to stay again and again with an innovative pricing model. Guests can pay as they go or opt for a global membership.
In the beginning $360 per month, Nomad Passport offers travelers a 30-night stay in a quarterly window. Although guests must commit to a minimum of three nights at each property, they can grab their laptops and roam among Celina’s wide range of destinations.
On top of appealing to digital nomads with flexible pricing, Selena is tapping into another growing trend. Instead of selling their services as a comfortable stay with the added convenience of a hotel co-working space, they are promoting their property as a complete experience. In addition to on-site networking events, travelers can book weekend activities or join volunteer opportunities at local NGOs.