The commercial success of a new franchise deal between Accor's co-working brand Wojo and Kasada Capital Management hinges on whether digital nomads can be tempted to stray from Europe.
It’s the first time that Wojo, which the hotel giant co-owns with French real estate company Bouygues, will enter the continent after expansion in Europe and Latin America over the past two years.
Wojo offers remote work-friendly solutions including “spots” and “corners” as well as office sites. Although its stronghold is in France, it operates co-working spaces in 100 hotels in Brazil, with a presence in Chile, Peru, Colombia and Argentina as well.
This new “master franchise” agreement applies to all properties owned by Kasada, which was set up in 2018 with the backing of Qatar Investment Authority, as well as Accor.
The tie-up appears to be focused on former French colonies, with Wojo spaces set be rolled out across hotels in countries including Ivory Coast, Senegal and Cameroon — where properties like the Ibis Douala, which sits in the West African country’s largest city and economic capital, will welcome Wojo members in the second half of 2022.
The partnership could prove attractive to global digital nomads wanting to travel and work in familiar hotels across West Africa, although the deal also allows Kasada to operate Wojo spaces in non-Accor branded hotels, as the deal covers all of Kasada’s hotels in sub-Saharan Africa.
“There is no exclusivity with the Accor brands since Kasada holds the local master franchise,” said an Accor spokesperson.
Last year Kasada acquired a portfolio of sub-Saharan African hotels from AccorInvest, which was reportedly one of the largest cross-border hospitality transactions in Africa, involving eight hotels in Ivory Coast, Senegal and Cameroon, comprising 1,602 hotel rooms.
Kasada only entered South Africa recently, after funds advised by Kasada Capital Management bought the iconic luxury Cape Grace hotel in Cape Town in March this year.
However, the spokesperson said a decision to add Wojo spaces to Kasada’s Safari Hotel portfolio had yet to be confirmed.
Speaking at Skift Forum Europe in March, Accor CEO Sebastien Bazin said the hotel group would now look to use Wojo to drive growth after the pandemic.
“Thank God we have four years in advance and we have already probably a 10,000 customer base of companies working with Wojo,” he said. “It’s not a great margin business, but it’s a very good repeat business.”
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Photo credit: Funds advised by Kasada Capital Management bought the iconic luxury Cape Grace hotel in Cape Town in March this year. Sharaan Muruvan / Unsplash