Lifestyle Hotels: A New Eldorado for Business Travel

Discover the strategies employed by these new establishments rooting themselves ever deeper in their urban fabric to attract local residents.

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After the wave of boutique hotels in the 1990s, the 2010s saw the emergence of 'lifestyle' hotels with an offering that broke with traditional hotel codes. How did they do this, and what were the strategies employed by these hotels? Since its creation, Airbnb has radically transformed our travel habits. Tourists are now looking for a unique experience in homestay accommodation and in contact with local people. Hoteliers have had to adapt to this new vision of hospitality and come up with solutions to win back the market share occupied by this collaborative platform. 

Strategy No. 1: City-Centre Location

On January 7 2013, the 25Hours brand opened its very first hotel in Paris. The characteristic of this German chain (in which Accor has a 30% stake) is opening design-orientated hotels inspired by the city where they are situated. At the 25Hours Terminus Nord, guest rooms boast vibrant colours inspired by Africa and Asia, the reception looks like a Parisian newspaper kiosk, the Neni restaurant serves Israeli, Romanian, and Spanish cuisine, and the Sape Bar is a meeting place for the area's night owls.

The chain, which has tested its concept in nine cities since its creation in Hamburg in 2005, plans on expanding into Florence and Dubai in 2020. Like hotels of old, and as in the case of the 25Hours chain, the current trend is for city-centre locations. As such, new companies in the hospitality industry prefer trendy cities that serve as the inspiration for their look and feel.   

Strategy No. 2: Creating Open Spaces

The hotel lobby and entrance hall are no longer places that guests pass through just to collect their keys. In lifestyle hotels, the inner walls have been removed. This is the case of the new chain Okko Hôtel, which has created a space called the Club that is open around the clock and where guests can find complimentary drinks, snacks and nibbles, and enjoy the use of its books, computers, sauna, and fitness area. Just like in an airport lounge or an open workspace in a startup company, guests can meet up to work, relax, enjoy a snack, and chat.

Breathing life into hotel lobbies is also a good way to make this untapped space profitable. To this end, hoteliers are even opening up their concierge services to local residents. Where some offer a traditional concierge service, Accor has gone even further with the launch of its Accor Local app that lists all of a hotel's services – catering, leisure, sports, wellness, and beauty facilities, – that are available to local residents.

Hotel bars are also on an upswing and are becoming hotspots for local nightlife. In partnership with the sbe Group, catering, mixology, and event specialist, Accor has launched a new luxury brand: The House of Originals. It currently comprises the Sanderson and St. Martins Lane in London, 10 Karakoy in Istanbul, and the Shore Club in Miami Beach. Five other hotels are planned in key cities such as Dubai, London, and Paris. Accor is thus able to benefit from sbe's expertise (a company with 29 hotels and 180 restaurants, nightclubs and bars) in terms of culinary and cultural offerings and the art of mixing drinks.    

Strategy No. 3: Coworking for Getting into Local Life

No more impersonal business centres at the end of the corridor; work spaces have also been redesigned as social spaces where hotel guests/business travellers along with local residents/place-independent workers can mix. What's more, these coworking spaces are not the preserve of new generation lifestyle hotels like the Dutch hotel brand Citizen M, or the French brand Mama Shelter and its Mama Works.

Even the most traditional names are following suit: Mercure with its Easywork; Holiday Inn with its Open Lobby; along with Crowne Plaza and its Plaza Workspace. Not to mention the recent BoB Hotel by Elegancia located near Montparnasse train station – which features several workspaces including a lobby and a library – and whose name is short for 'Business on Board'.
The Accor Group has also set its sights on seeing its coworking facilities take off in 2019. Step one: The Wojo Corner, Paris Montmartre by the brand Wojo – ex-Nextdoor – an acronym from 'work' and 'mojo'.

These workspaces also allow hoteliers to become known in networks other than those that are essentially travel related. So much so, that in January 2017, AirOffice, a startup, launched a platform for connecting hotels and co-workers, thus inventing the concept of FreeWorking.

These establishments, anchored in local life, where accommodation and coworking go hand in hand, are now disrupting old school business travel. They respond to the desideratum of a changing business traveller, now an urban nomad thirsty for experience and in search of a lifestyle.   

Published by Thi bao on 12/11/2019 Photo credit: © Accor- MGallery Vietnam

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