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Hotels vie to become offices of the future

Profile Photo By: H L
June 26, 2013

Hotels vie to become offices of the future

Business TravelerEver since Starbucks had the business acumen to make free WiFi as defining to its brand as “grande frappucinos,” workers have delighted in leaving their offices in favor of brighter, more caffeinated workspaces.

As the traditional office undergoes a global demise, hotels are starting to change their function to accommodate the new wave of mobile workers.

“We’re really trying to transform the way people think about hotels,” says Peggy Roe, Marriott International’s vice president of global operations services. “We want people to think of Marriott as a place not just to come and sleep, but to work.”

Earlier this year, Marriott started testing a new concept called Workspace on Demand. In 35 hotels throughout the U.S. (and one in Europe), guests and non-guests alike can book small-scale meeting space for $50 an hour.

“Customers said that they were basically sneaking into the lobby to steal WiFi, or else were sitting in our parking lot and plugging in from their car. We say, ‘we give you permission. Come in and sit in our lobby.'”

The last three months were an operational experiment, says Roe, one that was obviously successful. In the next two months, they will expand Workspace on Demand to six more locations in the U.S., with an eye on their properties abroad.

Marriott essentially offers little more than a table and a plug, but, says Roe, “mostly people just want a basic space to work. They haven’t asked for more than that.”

Last month, Westin Hotels & Resorts launched Tangent, which is similarly aimed at a younger, more transient workforce. Their rooms, which are priced at $50 to $60 an hour, accommodate a smaller audience (four max), and are a bit more tricked out.

The focal point is media:scape, a worktable that lets multiple users drag and share documents from their person devices. There is a whiteboard area for brainstorming and even an Xbox. There is also a lounge area to help facilitate job interviews, a function that guests were previously performing in the hotel lobby.

“You’d see a group of consultants hovering over a laptop, trying to prepare for a presentation, or else people had interviews, and the lobby wasn’t providing enough privacy for the topic they were discussing,” says Brian Povinelli, senior vice president and global brand leader at Westin and Meridien.

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Source: Daisy Carrington (2013). Hotels vie to become offices of the future, CNN?http://edition.cnn.com/2013/04/09/travel/business-traveller-hotel-workspace published Apr 10, 2013. Viewed Jun 25, 2013.

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