The trend for remote working, brought sharply to the fore under Coronavirus lockdowns, and hotel trade suffering due to the same restrictions, looks set to provide hotels with the impetus to move towards the hybrid hotel model.
Providing more of a community feel with luxurious amenities for non-residents and residents alike to share, offering hot desk work spaces for rent or developing hotels offering longer stay rental apartments are all viable options for hotels to consider as they seek to recoup lost money due to the pandemic and tune into ‘new normal’ working and leisure patterns to increase revenue.
Opportunities for co-working and interacting in a smart space are considered key features to benefit both guests and non-residents.
A number of hotel brands have started to explore the concept, including Zoku, Hoxton/Ennismore, Accor, Ace Hotels, citizenM and Kerten Hospitality, maximising currently under-used areas of building space within the footprint of existing hotels.
It now seems likely that some existing venues could refurbish communal areas to encourage such interactions and new-builds could build in such a design feature from the outset to offer the flexibility.
With many workers not returning to offices post-COVID-19, companies are looking for smaller premises so the option for flexible working will be attractive with hotels offering alternative workspaces.
This could involve refurbishing communal areas to provide facilities a little more formal than a sofa for longer term remote working or offering more work-focused rooms – for example with the bed concealed so colleagues can visit.
Providing a range of room size and type – executive, family, dormitory for groups, suites, apartments and conference rooms – will also provide the widest appeal.
The hybrid hotel model is sustainable as it offers 24-7 availability with its associated energy savings compared with large unused office buildings.
And it saves organisations unsure of their own economic future and real estate requirements from entering in to lengthy lease arrangements if they believe a mix of working from home and ad hoc working environments is the way forward.
Set in the heart of a community, a hybrid hotel can also help companies reduce their carbon footprint by allowing them to work there rather than commute to their traditional office environment.
Some hotels adopting this functionality have invested in kitchenettes in more rooms (some with filtered water taps as standard), made gym facilities open to non-residents and arranged karaoke events. They have also started offering different style independent restaurants to encourage residents to leave their rooms and socialise, and provide yoga classes, gigs, or in-room beauty appointments.
Once travel restrictions are more relaxed, there is hope in the travel industry that more people will go away on business and then look to stay on at the venue for a leisure break – an obvious market for the hybrid approach offering excellent business facilities with upmarket amenities for relaxation at the heart of a thriving community.
With the lines between work and leisure activities increasingly blurred thanks to more opportunities for flexible working and technological influence, it is important for people visiting a hotel to feel at home with different, relevant options available to them