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Co-working in hotels: Trend or fad?

Earlier this week, Ennismore, developers of the hot Hoxton lifestyle brand, launched its co-work brand called Working From, which will initially install inside its Chicago hotel and this fall at one of its London hotels. As CEO Sharan Pasricha told me when the Chicago property opened about six weeks ago, 200 guest rooms were enough, leaving space available for two floors of membership-based co-work space.

Open 24/7, Working From has a smart mix of space types, ranging from Day Passes for £30 and grab a seat where you can find one, to Private Studios for £700/desk per month. It even has an after-5:30 p.m. rate. The spaces will be cool, no doubt, and members will spend extra money on hotel amenities and F&B.  

While lobby space will remain available free, why not create something more ideal for work with the hip hotel vibe and charge for it? It seems like a smart move to monetize more space.

Rendering of Hoxton co-work space
Rendering of Hoxton co-work space

When I asked Pasricha this week to explain the investment and ROI, I received a statesman-like response: “We are a for-profit enterprise! We underwrite each space by ascertaining the relationship between capital expenditure to fit-out a space and our ability to generate income through membership sales net of operational costs and market rent.” In other words, “none of your business.”

No doubt, Sharan has done the math and believes the trend is hot enough and with a long enough tail to make his numbers pencil out profitably. Interestingly enough, his hotel in Chicago is about two doors down from a WeWork space.

Similarly, Katherine Lo, who is making a great statement with her politically progressive Eaton Workshop hotel concept, is carving out a similarly tiered co-work membership space called Eaton House. Initial results of a membership drive for the space that can accommodate 452 members at her hotel in Washington, D.C., hotel: “We’re very pleased with the absorption and volume of people who’ve joined the community, but more importantly we’re pleased with the types of people and companies who’ve joined.”

Not surprisingly, Accor recently announced a plan to open 1,200 coworking spaces in under three years with Wojo by 2022. The Wojo coworking spaces will be launched within Accor hotels worldwide with different offerings across all segments (economy, mid-scale and luxury segments).

While I am not getting clear answers on how successful these will be, I like the idea and expect others to follow. Or will they? I know it is early to get solid results from Hoxton or Eaton Workshop, but I’ll be curious if some of the industry giants will soon jump on the bandwagon.

What do you think? Is this going to become commonplace within five years inside full-service hotels? Please, use the comments field below and weigh in.

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