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Why is a hospitality brand entering the recruitment market? The answer lies in its co-living division, because not everyone’s there just to party.

Series: Future of Work

Future of Work

Editor’s Note: Skift Future of Work briefing is available exclusively every Friday.

As organizations start to embrace distributed work and virtual meetings, the corporate travel and meetings sectors are preparing for change. How will travel managers respond to new patterns of employee mobility? What role will hotels play in catering to distributed workforces and distributed meetings? Can destinations, and airlines, capitalize on the anticipated boom in digital nomads? Does the coming future of work increase or decrease the travel spend?

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As the war for talent heats up, companies struggling to recruit could do well to consider tapping into co-living communities.

That’s according to Mark Biery, who heads up Selina’s Co-Live remote work program. More than 3,000 people have spent at least one month in this program since August 2020, paying from $450 a month, while it currently has 450 members on site today.

Biery said Selina had been on track to expand regardless of its recently announced plan to go public by merging with BOA Acquisition Corp in a $1.2 billion deal. “I say this because we run a co-living program in a pandemic. Those two things don’t usually align when you say it aloud,” he said.

Co-living, which in Selina’s case means guests share kitchen, lounge and work spaces and not necessarily a room has long been tipped a trend in the making. Coronavirus looks like it will accelerate co-living further, due to more people embracing remote work, and wanting to keep the costs down, with the unintended consequence or creating roving talent pools.

Biery claimed Selina Co-Live members, who book blocks of 30 nights, now include employees from the likes of like Amazon, Google, Facebook and Salesforce, as well as day traders. ”We have people with high-intensity jobs in our program. There are lawyers doing depositions in our phone booths,” he said.

As a result, Selina is developing a new online platform for members. “Business, entrepreneurship and technology are huge, and high up there in terms of personal interest,” said Liora Nuchowicz, Co-Live’s global community lead , currently based in Mexico.

Some Co-Live members become “residents” at its locations across Latin America, the U.S. and Europe and help facilitate networking and skill-sharing, as well as run events and talks. “We want to be the people who connect and create collaboration between co-livers, so when someone says ‘my company’s looking for a graphic designer,’ someone replies there’s a graphic designer right next to me,” she said.

“We’re moving away from Facebook to a better platform that has more features, so people have profiles and post job opportunities. Anything that’s like a talent pool, we want to be able to connect people in that way, because that’s what’s unique about co-livers, they’re here working they’re not here just to party.”

Next Gen Workers

CapitaLand’s lodging division Ascott is another brand pursuing the co-living market, and it plans to open 17 lyf properties by 2025, growing to 3,000 units in 13 cities and nine countries, expanding in France, Australia, Malaysia, the Philippines, as well as China, Thailand and Singapore.

Lyf, which means “live your freedom,” is designed for next-generation travelers, Ascott said. “The apartments, social spaces and experiential programmes at lyf properties are designed for guests to forge connections and to nurture a strong sense of community.”

Co-living accommodation provider ZoloStays is also banking on this area of hospitality taking off, having recently raised $56 million in funding. It claimed the Indian co-living market could be worth between $6 billion and $10 billion a year over the next several years, driven partly by young people in the so-called “post-graduation” segment.

Briery believes the co-living concept will further accelerate because employees will prefer to have the choice of where they travel to work remotely, rather than being told they can only spend time with colleagues in a resort in Barbados, for example.

“That’s going to be the future, because you want to give ownership to your employees, and the choice of earning something. If they hit their sales goal or quota, they’ve been at the company for a year or two years, they’re committed, here’s a gift for you,” he said.

There’ll be little crossover with Selina’s other community-based brand, Remote Year, which tends to put guests in apartments and focuses on fixed groups. And Biery said his goal is to rather democratize remote work. “There are different price points, which creates a really cool environment,” he said. “You have people that might not have that socio-economc status, or might not come with that amount of money in the bank, yet they can socialize and be a part of this community.”

Sidenotes

It’s hard to think of a more controversial tourism campaign (although Fiji is in the running) as Argentina’s capital city launches a bid to attract remote workers.

The official pitch from Buenos Aires is “Quality of Life, Talent, Creativity and Diversity,” according to the website. “We are creative, diverse and entrepreneurial people, and our city is unique, innovative, safe and has exceptional art, culture, climate and food, with an affordable cost of living,” it continues.

It’s the “affordable cost of living” that may be problematic. Part of the campaign involves pitching favorable exchange rates, according to reports. The issue is that rising inflation has prompted the country to curb outbound travel, with residents barred from taking advantage of popular buy-now-pay-later schemes or using credit cards for purchases outside the country.

Bloomberg estimates that foreign tourists spent $1.8 billion in the city in 2019, so there’s clearly a shortfall. But as the red carpet is rolled out for relatively affluent remote workers, will they be welcomed in the current environment? 

A new 12-month visa for remote workers with their foreign incomes is being planned, which would mark the first of its kind in Latin America. Is Venezuela up next? Croatia’s local tech community protested when their nation began offering favorable terms for digital nomads. Buenos Aires shouldn’t be surprised if experiences a similar kickback.

10-Second Corporate Travel Catch-Up

Who and what Skift has covered over the past week: Aeromexico, American Airlines, American Express Global Business Travel, event wellness activities, Hotel Engine, MCR, Qantas, Selina, Southwest Airlines, Vacasa, Yotel.

In Brief

Bank Pays Out for Quarantine Costs

Global financial firm UBS has joined JP Morgan in offering extra money to employees when quarantining. It will now offer its Hong Kong staff up to $256.45 a day to help cover mandatory quarantines, according to reports. Like JP Morgan, which is offering a total of $5,000, the cash is being made available until  November next year. The city requires 21-day compulsory hotel quarantine for arrivals from most countries amid growing fears over the Omicron coronavirus variant.

New Airline Retailing Lets Agencies and Travelers Down 

The UK’s Business Travel Association has published the results of a five-year investigation into the benefits travelers and corporate travel agencies receive from the so-called New Distribution Capability — a standard introduced by the International Air Transport Association to enable smarter retailing through indirect distribution channels. The Business Travel Association found that 50 percent of airlines are not currently certified on any standard of the standard, while only 23 of the 86 airlines that pledged to adopt the scheme have made the IATA leaderboard. 

It also warned of a “functionality gap” involving issues such as personalisation, unused tickets, group bookings and interlining, which negatively impact the business traveler. “We are fully supportive of the transition to NDC as modernizing airline retail is essential for the entire business travel community, but this fractured and disjointed approach is failing to deliver on expectations,” said Clive Wratten, the association’s CEO.  The International Air Transport Association is set to release version 21.3 of New Distribution Capability later this year.

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Tags: argentina, buenos aires, business travel, corporate travel, croatia, digital nomads, Future of Work Briefing, hong kong, remote work, remote year, selina, Skift Pro Columns, spac, travel management

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