Skift Take

The intense relationship with digital nomads could be cooling off, as hotels increasingly turn "hybrid" and map out a future that focuses on permanent bases for corporations.

Series: Future of Work

Future of Work

As organizations start to embrace distributed work and virtual meetings, the corporate travel and meetings sectors are preparing for change. Read Skift’s ongoing coverage of this shift in business travel behavior through the lens of both brands and consumers.

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Hybrid hoteliers are bullish on the future, as they anticipate soaring demand for more mixed-use properties from developers and investors, which includes dedicated office space.

Wojo, the co-working brand part-owned by Accor and Bouygues Immobilier, in particular is developing more properties that include this, on top of lobbies that can accommodate digital nomads to help create that much-needed ground-floor buzz for guests to socialize and network.

“Before in the hotel it was digital nomads, freelancers, individual entrepreneurs,” said Lenaic Bezin, head of third places development at Wojo, during a recent webinar. “Now the new evolution is about companies installing staff and remote workers, and their office, directly onto one floor, so they can enjoy the hotel’s services.”

Wojo is supporting hotel investors that want to enter the market, so they’re not creating their own co-working brands, and is working on “large refurbishment or greenfield projects,” he added.

“So directly we will have the ground floor with shared space with hotel activity and co-working activity, and dedicated to let’s say three or five floors of co-working activity, and three, four floors to the hotel, and two or three floors of co-living, for example,” Bezin said at the Hybrid Hospitality — Hotels and the Future of Work event.

Mixed Use Spotlight

The trend is in line with another Accor-affiliated brand, Ennismore, which plans to expand its own “Working From_” concept of private offices and open desks across entire floors to its entire brand portfolio, including Mondrian, Hyde and Mama Shelter, founder and co-CEO Sharan Pasricha revealed at Skift Global Forum last week.

As well as more revenue, developers are apparently take a keener interest because these mixed-use hotels are, in fact, kinder to the environment.

Rosie Willan, co-founder of creative marketing agency Stay the Night, who moderated the event, described a hybrid hotel as a dynamic, multi-functional space where people can stay, work, eat and drink, and socialize all under one roof.

“Pre-Covid, offices were used 60 percent of the time, but that was during a 40-hour week,” said Hans Meyer, co-founder and managing director of Zoku, also speaking at the event. “After Covid, the office was used between 8 and 10 percent. If we talk about climate change, and building sustainable buildings, then if nobody’s there, it’s still not a sustainable solution. There’s a huge inefficiency in our market,”

Bezin claimed local authorities were also favoring developers that propose hybrid hotels, due to their lower carbon impact. “By implementing a hybrid model, you’re able to be more corporate social responsibility-compliant, and be less impactful. The hybrid model is booming,” he claimed.

However, if a hotel isn’t being maxed out, it’s probably not in the right location.

However, the panelists argued the office market was bigger than hospitality market, and so was about to be “disrupted” in the coming years. “In the next five to 10 to years, it will be a must have to have co-working or professional working solution in your hotel,” Bezin added

Sidenotes

Gamification, the concept of rewarding certain behaviors, has been around for nearly a decade in business travel.

Google was a pioneer with its internal travel program, which later inspired Rocketrip. The startup, which was which was bought by Mondee in 2020, rewards employees for finding deals and keeping their travels within benchmarks expected for a given trip. TripKicks also taps into gamification.

Now the opportunity is ripe for Climate Club to carry the torch. The startup, not to be confused with the “Climate Club” set up by the G7 countries to tackle climate change, wants to help companies kickstart their path to travel sustainability.

It has just raised $6.5 million, and is already working with Meta, Facebook’s parent company, and consulting company Bain, and counts Lyft as one of its partners in a network of sustainable companies focused on reducing emissions.

It’s able to give individuals, and departments, specific goals to reach when lowering their carbon footprint, and covers a range of sectors. It doesn’t just track travel, as it also includes emissions associated with purchased goods and services that employees use, such as food and the associated waste. But travel, under Scope 3, is often a company’s biggest carbon outlay that it can control.

Climate Club will help also make recommendations for employees’ commutes, and the amount of energy used in remote and hybrid work. It can also set up an internal carbon tax system, as used by Microsoft.

Rockettrip rewarded employees with gift cards, company stock or even just praise, for finding deals and saving the corporation money. There’s plenty of scope for Climate Club to incentivize staff, if companies are willing to invest.

Many startups have launched to help companies cut their emissions, including Thrust Carbon and Chooose, which recently Air Canada to its roster of clients, alongside Skyscanner and Trip.com.

“We’re really excited by any new product that accelerates decarbonisation,” said Mark Corbett, co-founder of Thurst Carbon. “Each new solution further validates the market, enhances the competition and quality of solutions, and ultimately drives more customers to making more responsible decisions.”

However, a shift away from carbon offsetting may be coming, following easyJet’s decision to focus on technologies, rather than planting trees.

“The emergence of new platforms and solutions such as Climate Club, as well as others like Ailuna and Doconomy, that are focusing on the behavioural side of emission reductions, are a big part of what makes our current climate challenge such an exciting opportunity for multiple industries,” added Glenn Thorsen, global sustainability lead at FCM Consulting.

Let the games begin.

10-Second Corporate Travel Catch-Up

Who and what Skift has covered over the past week: Accor, Eurostar, JetBlue, Sabre, TripActions, Tripbam, Trip.com, U.S. Transportation Department, Virgin Atlantic.

In Brief

Corporate Online Booking Tools Not Up to Scratch

The UK’s Institute of Travel Management says most travel buyer members are facing challenges with their chosen online booking tools as business travel resumes. Its survey has also highlighted concerns they aren’t ready to meet the needs of travel managers and travelers in the future.

In a poll survey of buyer members, 45 percent stated their existing online booking tool was not “fit for purpose” in the current environment. This figure rose to 57 percent in the mid to long term. A high proportion of respondents (75 percent) felt that their current tech provider was not listening to their needs.

A similar number of buyers voiced a high level of dissatisfaction with the proactiveness of their current supplier to offer solutions that are important to them; and 70 percent were very or somewhat dissatisfied with responsiveness to requests.

“As travel resumes at scale and buyers look to support their agency’s resource challenges, it could be argued that the online booking tool is more critical than ever,” said Scott Davies, CEO of the institute. “Yet during numerous conversations with our buyer members, it became evident that for many there are challenges with online booking tools being able to deliver on today’s post-pandemic needs for both the travel manager and the traveler.”

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Tags: accor, business travel, climate change, co-working, digital nomads, ennismore, Future of Work Briefing, google, online booking tools, real estate, remote work, Skift Pro Columns, sustainability, the hoxton, wojo

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