Offices Find New Ways to Compete With Hotels For Remote Workers
“There is no such thing as a new idea,” Mark Twain famously said, as we find ourselves back to square one: it turns out that offices are, in fact, pretty convenient places for people to work in.
The twist is they’re about to be used more frequently by non-employees.
This is the latest trend one co-working space platform is discovering — and it could prove to be a relief for landlords across the globe, particularly in cities like New York which is losing out on $12 billion because of remote work.
Booking platform AndCo is seeing new behaviors emerge. During the pandemic it saw members head to coffee shops, restaurants and even bars to work. But with those venues no longer delivering the customer experience needed, the UK startup switched its focus to adding more hotel lobbies and spaces — but more recently growing numbers of remote working teams want to return to offices. So much so that it launched a new platform, Skift can exclusively reveal, called NO HQ to meet that demand.
“What we started to see was some teams wanted a space that was a little more exclusive, dedicated to them,” said co-founder and head of marketing Tom Wordie. “They’re fully remote, but need to call somewhere their home one day a week, or a couple of days a month.”
It’s a classic lesson in supply and demand economics. Many companies scaled back on their office space during and after the pandemic, or got rid of it entirely, but today find they do still need somewhere to get the team back together again. These are described as “anchor days” by Wordie.
There are also those companies that kept their offices, but went hybrid. They now have an office that sits empty two or three days a week. NO HQ aims to connect those two sides, and allow office owners to monetize their office space to fully remote companies. While subletting may raise contractual questions, Wordie said that for now office landlords don’t seem to care, as long as they get their rent.
Not everyone shares the view, however.
“We are not seeing companies looking to rent out their internal meeting spaces to non-employees,” said Ciaran Delaney, CEO and founder of Hubli. But the meetings platform is expanding its own offering, even including museums. Delaney is seeing larger organizations facilitate employees flying back to work in the office, though, and Hubli is working with a new global client to help employees book office meeting spaces as well as nearby accommodation.
Back to New York, and Wordie believes the new marketplace concept is relevant for the struggling city. AndCo plans to expand there, but will first be testing NO HQ in Amsterdam. “It’s relatively small and you can test quickly,” he said.
The challenge his new NO HQ venture faces is scaling. Wordie said each office is currently being handpicked, which is time consuming but essential as he wants to focus on “design-led” offices.
In the meantime, expect to see hotels accelerate their transformations into more work-friendly spaces.
Hosting meetings continues to be a focus for hotels, and now Wyndham Hotels & Resorts has become the latest group to join the Groups360 platform.
It’s a considerable boost for the instant online bookings platform, which already includes Accor, Hilton, IHG Hotels & Resorts and Marriott International — which are all investors. There are also partnerships with Omni Hotels & Resorts, TFE Hotels, and Premier Inn.
The question for later this year is what does Blackstone’s proposal to buy meeting platform Cvent mean? In one sense, it creates a meetings booker powerhouse. As of December 31, 2022, Cvent lists 302,000 hotels and venues on the Cvent Supplier Network.
Blackstone Innovations Investments also contributed to a $35 million fundraise for Groups360 last year, putting it in the driving seat — will Blackstone separate or encourage crossover between the two products?
That deal gave Groups360 access to Blackstone’s vast hotel portfolio, which includes the 650-property strong Extended Stay America chain. Wyndham is the world’s largest hotel franchisor with 9,100 hotels across 95 countries, and brings a significant amount of economy brands to the party. Its large portfolio also includes extended stay brand ECHO Suites.
“Over the last three years, Wyndham has invested over $100 million in major technology initiatives, giving our franchisees access to best-in-class offerings that unlock new efficiencies while helping to grow their bottom line,” said Lisa Checchio, chief marketing officer at Wyndham Hotels & Resorts. “Bringing franchisees access to GroupSync is just the latest example and one we believe offers incredible opportunity for franchisees, particularly those in the economy segment, where such technology is an industry first.”
With all eyes on the U.S. $1 trillion-plus Infrastructure Act, Groups360 is now well positioned to benefit from the considerable ramp-up in related business travel.
10-Second Corporate Travel Catch-Up
Who and what Skift has covered over the past week: Abu Dhabi, American Airlines, Amsterdam, Brex, Google Bard, Hilton, New York LaGuardia Airport, Rome, Sonder.
Career Advice From the Business Travel Association
The UK’s Business Travel Association wants more people to start or return to a career in the business travel industry. To do that, it’s published a careers brochure called “Your Career Can Travel.” Topics cover useful resources, myths vs facts and helpful advice. “While many travel management companies are now approaching desired staffing levels to meet the needs and revenues of their clients, the brochure tackles continuing misconceptions associated with business travel, promoting the flexibility and longevity of careers in travel management companies and offering guidance on how to launch a career in the industry to accelerate the industry’s employment recovery in 2023,” the brochure states.
GlobalStar Partners With Trees4Travel
GlobalStar Travel Management has teamed up with Trees4Travel, and environmental “tech for good” company. Together the two organizations aim to use carbon management technology to calculate and help reduce emissions impact. “In partnering with Trees4Travel we can not only experience and use their great carbon management technology ourselves, but we can also contribute to something equally as positive through their reforestation programs,” said Julian Russell, executive director of IT and supplier relations at GlobalStar. As an example, for its recent partner conference, GlobalStar added 396 trees to a reforestation program in Haiti while also removing 64,984kg of carbon emissions through United Nation CER renewable energy projects.
Selina Ups Its Corporate Governance
Lifestyle and experiential hospitality brand Selina has appointed Alan Bowers as an independent director to its board. The company said it was part of its commitment to corporate governance. It also has a Finance and Capital Allocation Committee to help oversee budgeting, capital allocation and significant transactions. Since going public last year, Selina’s share price has been on a steady decline.
“We look forward to Alan’s contributions as the Board and management continue to focus on the company’s three strategic initiatives, achieving positive cashflow, executing on their path to profitability, and continuing to build the Selina brand,” said Eric Foss, chair of the Selina board. Bowers also serves as a non-executive director and chair of the Audit Committees of Ocwen Financial Corporation and CWT Travel Holdings, Inc., the travel management platform business.
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