Could overnight accommodation soon become a staple part of the serviced office package? It’s possible – after all, the hotel and workspace industries have long held a natural affinity.
On a basic level, most hotels offer standard on-site conference and business facilities. Some brands have taken a step further – such as LiquidSpace and Marriott’s joint ‘Workspace On Demand’ booking platform.
Yet the point where accommodation and workspace meet is not dominated by the hotel industry, nor is it a one-way street.
A current example is WeWork, which is planning to step into the co-living concept with new brand, WeLive. Other entrepreneurs staking their claim to co-living/coworking include Troy Evans, who is developing ‘micro-units’ in downtown Syracuse above a coworking space.
Back in 2007, Easy Group founder Stelios Haji-Ioannou extended his Easy leisure brand into the serviced office sector. Haji-Ioannou was ahead of his time when he described his intentions for easyOffice as “an efficient way of distributing space” with the ability to “book workspace on the web as if it was a hotel room.”
Other examples include Dutch company Joinn, which offers a “hotspot for work, lounge and short stays”, while UK-based workspace operator DBS Managed Offices has just launched its own serviced apartments geared towards local businesses. Stockholm’s City Office also offers a complementary en-suite room to travelling clients.
Then there’s the coworkation movement with operators like Surf Office and Outsite, which blends travel and coworking in exotic holiday retreats. These examples demonstrate just some of the many possibilities that exist between workspace and accommodation.
However, not every workspace/hotel venture is a success story.
Take easyOffice for instance. Although it’s still listed on the Easy Group website, upon making contact, OfficingToday was told that the brand “exited the serviced office market a couple of years ago” to concentrate on budget hotels. Following up the connection between easyHotel and easyOffice, we were told “there are no formal links between the two businesses.”
The real opportunity, it transpires, lies with those who have more than just a vision; they also have the right space, the right location and of course, plenty of clients knocking on the door.
A “natural progression”
One such operator is Office Space in Town, a supplier of innovative design-led serviced offices in the UK, which currently operates 11 serviced office locations across Central London, Northampton and Cardiff. The company is set to make its debut in overnight accommodation in February 2016, at its newly launched Monument serviced office centre in London.
“The decision to offer accommodation was a very natural progression for us,” CEO Giles Fuchs told OfficingToday. “We get a lot of international and corporate clients who need overnight accommodation. They often work late and look for local accommodation, either in hotels or shared houses.”
The five rooms are still under development, yet they already “have clients queuing at the door” to book accommodation.
“This is still early days for us, but we’ve had a very high level of interest for our rooms,” said Giles. “We have clients working on long-term projects who are ready to book 3 nights per week for a whole year.”
Rooms are provided on-site and are exclusive for clients, with Monument also set to offer an on-site treatment room three days per week. According to Giles, Monument – which is already 60% occupied two months after opening – will be the first of many Office Space in Town locations to provide accommodation.
Not every centre is a suitable candidate. The company is focusing on the London market, which is where demand is focused. And the right centre needs to have enough space for the accommodation, which is all on-site. According to Giles, there should be a minimum of 40,000 sq ft, which makes Monument – with over 60,000 sq ft – an ideal first candidate.
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Evolution in serviced offices
Giles explained that providing overnight accommodation has been part of Office Space in Town’s evolution, which started shortly after he and sister Nicki launched Office Space in Town Ltd in 2009.
It wasn’t their first taste of flexible workspace. Prior to that, they had been part of a family serviced office business which started back in 1979, when Giles and Niki’s parents opened a business centre in Northampton – one of the very first in the UK.
And remarkably, it’s still operating as a business centre.
Upon stepping back into the industry 6 years ago, Giles and Niki have been steadily evolving their business model. A critical point in the process involved reducing the ratio of office space and balancing it with more meeting facilities, open lounge areas, on-site canteens and – most recently – the development of on-site bedrooms.
This company evolution has also seen the introduction of design-led themes – most famously, Alice in Wonderland at Waterloo. There is also 1920’s pizzazz at Mayfair and a nautical theme at Monument, complete with views of HMS Belfast.
This latest evolutionary step into the accommodation business suggests that Office Space in Town is now much more than an office in town – it’s becoming a one-stop-corporate-shop in the city. And while Giles stopped short of divulging the next stage in the company’s evolution, he assured us that there are plenty more rabbits to come out of the hat in the very near future.
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