Ho­tels of­fer space that’s like the of­fice, ‘but cooler’

Star-Telegram (Sunday) - - Business - BY SHIVANI VORA

Ho­tels have al­ready turned their lobbies into spa­ces where guests can so­cial­ize or work. Now, some prop­er­ties are go­ing one step fur­ther to cater to busi­ness trav­el­ers and pro­fes­sion­als in gen­eral: They’ve set up WeWork­style cowork­ing ar­eas.

Tra­di­tional hotel busi­ness cen­ters these aren’t. Yes, they of­fer prac­ti­cal ameni­ties like of­fice sup­plies, print­ers and, of course, cof­fee. But they also have a laid-back am­bi­ence and con­vivial feel of the shared work­ing spa­ces pop­ping up around the globe un­der the ban­ner of startup WeWork.

The new hotel busi­ness cen­ters seem to have struck a chord among busi­ness trav­el­ers who find that they’re prob­a­bly get­ting less work done in busy hotel lobbies, said Lor­raine Sileo, senior vice pres­i­dent of re­search for travel re­search com­pany Pho­cuswright. “Lobbies are dis­tract­ing be­cause there is so much go­ing on, with peo­ple com­ing in and out and also so­cial­iz­ing,” she said. “These new workspaces are meant for pro­duc­tiv­ity.”

They’re also es­pe­cially at­trac­tive to younger busi­ness trav­el­ers, said Jes­sica Col­li­son, re­search direc­tor for the Global Busi­ness Travel As­so­ci­a­tion. “Mil­len­ni­als tend be more no­madic than the older gen­er­a­tion of trav­el­ers and spend more time out­side of their room,” she said. “Ho­tels have picked up on this, and more of them are of­fer­ing a cowork­ing op­tion.”

The AC Hotel Phoenix Bilt­more, for ex­am­ple, which opened in Oc­to­ber, offers the in­door and out­door AC Lounge, on the side of its lobby. The more than 5,000-square­foot light-gray space has sev­eral couches, a large com­mu­nal ta­ble with elec­tri­cal out­lets at ev­ery seat and a 20-seat high ta­ble that’s a work­ing area by day and a bar af­ter 4 p.m. Guests and nonguests are wel­come to use the lounge with­out charge, said David Belk, the hotel’s gen­eral man­ager, and can get free cof­fee and bis­cotti. The lounge’s small li­brary has com­put­ers, print­ers and of­fice sup­plies like paper clips and fold­ers.

“We want the lounge to be a go-to and con­ve­nient for any­one who’s work­ing,” Belk said.

Alex Grif­fiths, who lives in San Luis Obispo, Cal­i­for­nia, and trav­els to Phoenix fre­quently for his job in re­new­able en­ergy, has stayed at the AC sev­eral times since it opened and said that he used the lounge both for team meet­ings and com­puter work. “It’s like a fully func­tion­ing of­fice but cooler, and I like the syn­ergy with the other peo­ple who are also work­ing,” he said. “I also love the bis­cotti.”

The cowork­ing area at the Char­lotte Mar­riott City Cen­ter in North Carolina, called Coco and the Direc­tor, is more com­pact than the AC Lounge. It has two tables with eight seats each and a white­board with mark­ers that guests can use dur­ing meet­ings for notes, said Sea­mus Gal­lagher, the prop­erty’s direc­tor of guest ex­pe­ri­ence. It also offers a for-pur­chase menu of cof­fee and sand­wiches.

Although ac­cess is free for any­one, seats must be re­served by sign­ing up on the chalk­board near the cowork­ing area en­trance. “You can stay for as long as you want,” Gal­lagher said, “and our staff will give you any of­fice sup­plies you need and help with print­ing doc­u­ments.”

Ho­tels see the cowork­ing spa­ces as a way to build loy­alty with both hotel guests and the gen­eral pub­lic, said Adam Weis­senberg, head of travel, hos­pi­tal­ity and leisure at Deloitte.

Weis­senberg noted that sev­eral re­cently opened ho­tels that have cowork­ing spa­ces charge nonguests for ac­cess.

The Rev­o­lu­tion Hotel, for one, which opened Dec. 5 in Bos­ton’s South End neigh­bor­hood, charges non-guests $20 a day for ac­cess to its cowork­ing space, Con­spire. The space offers com­mu­nal tables, bar-style seat­ing, couches and an eight­per­son con­fer­ence room.

Ea­ton DC’s new cowork­ing space, Ea­ton House, is spread over three lev­els and has desks, com­mu­nal ar­eas, con­fer­ence rooms and pri­vate of­fices. It charges nonguests three tiers of monthly mem­ber­ship: a $400 en­try level, called the No­mad, gets mem­bers a drop-in desk; the $800 level, the Pi­o­neer, comes with a ded­i­cated desk; and the top tier, the Col­lec­tive, which starts at $1,800 a month, comes with a pri­vate of­fice. (WeWork’s charges vary by lo­ca­tion but start at $190 a month for a desk and $450 a month for an of­fice.)


LOBBIES ARE DIS­TRACT­ING BE­CAUSE THERE IS SO MUCH GO­ING ON, WITH PEO­PLE COM­ING IN AND OUT AND ALSO SO­CIAL­IZ­ING. Lor­raine Sileo, senior vice pres­i­dent of re­search for travel re­search com­pany Pho­cuswright


To cater to busi­ness trav­el­ers, some ho­tels are set­ting up WeWork-style co-work­ing ar­eas.

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