Hotels in Australia have started offering coworking spaces in its empty lobbies for free, as a new phenomenon of space activation takes hold.
Two of TFE Hotels’ Vibe Hotels in Sydney’s Rushcutters Bay and the CBD have offered free desks to businesses through coworking operator Two Space to draw in more patrons through the lure of a busier ground floor lobby, a move that will also ramp up more food and beverage spending and room-letting.
Two Space, which bases its business on setting up offices in unused hospitality spaces, such as restaurants and pubs rather than formal office leases, says hotels are starting to see the importance of having its guests see its spaces as “alive and vibrant”, particularly with the advent of lifestyle boutique hotels and Airbnb locations.
“The hotel industry needs a warm lobby effect, no one likes a ghost town,” Two Space co-founder Tashi Dorjee said.
Two Space has 100 free desks but aims to open 1000 by the end of the year, with new deals to be struck with Marriott Hotels’ Marriott Courtyard in Sydney’s North Ryde and Minor Hotels Group’s Oaks on Market hotel in Melbourne. The hotels pay Two Space an operating fee.
Both Two Space customers and hotel guests can sign up for the spaces on an online community portal but there would be a limit on desks and working hours of between nine to five.
A mixture of freelancers, start-ups and flexible working employees have signed up including freelancing TV presenter James Mathison who has started using a desk at Vibe Hotel Rushcutters Bay, community fitness business FEAT Fitness, and food group Ufoodi.
Mathison says he prefers the use of Two Space and hotel spaces due to their location in retail precincts, proximity to other amenities such as gyms and easy access to food and drinks.
The users of the free space also get a discount at the hotels’ restaurants and on room rates. Mr Dorjee said this was a win-win for both co-working users and hotels.
“Users turn into hotel brand ambassadors, bringing their clients to have meetings in the space,” Mr Dorjee said.
Mr Dorjee is working with another public space operator, Spacenow, which helps hotels lease other unused spaces such as meeting and conference rooms and basements.
Asked if this would threaten co-working businesses such as WeWork, Mr Dorjee said it would not.
“In fact, we work symbiotically and are in partnership with other co-working spaces,” he said.
“Think of TwoSpace as an incubator for individuals or small businesses and teams that when they get large enough or can afford it, will ‘graduate’ and go to a serviced co-working space that can provide a dedicated desk.”
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