I have been steadfastly in the camp of many hotel industry leaders who believe Airbnb is not going to seriously hurt the hotel business as shared economy providers cater to a different set of consumers and do not offer the amenities and communal environment a hotel can. I still believe that.
Just over two weeks ago, however, Airbnb made a move that made me think a bit differently. Word leaked out that it was going to start a pilot program with WeWork to provide its customers with access to nearby WeWork offices and amenities. That ups the ante even further and it is time for hotels to respond.
I have been touting shared workspaces in hotels as the next great amenity – the new business center, if you will. Maybe it is time to take this idea a step further and create a hotel concept built around this idea, where the focus of the public space is on stimulating business, art and cultural innovation, entrepreneurship and collaboration. A few entrepreneurs are already ahead of the curve – think Mob Hotels out of Paris and Selina out of Bogota, where the concepts lead with the idea of creating community and fostering an environment for creativity and productivity – a place to not only eat, sleep and drink, but to work in an encouraging space.
The time is now. Opportunity is knocking, again. I imagine and only hope the industry’s trailblazers and copycats are already at work on this concept. If you are not, stop and look around at the quickly evolving way people live and work.