Hotels Are Getting Into the Coworking Game — Here’s How You Could Use Points for Access
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Chances are you’ll soon have more opportunities to access fully decked-out coworking spaces using your loyalty points, your credit card miles or simply by dropping into your favorite hotel.
That’s because more travel and loyalty brands than ever — especially those from hotels — are seeing an opportunity to expand into coworking, or are finding creative ways to provide those types of services and access to their loyal users.
Hotels, Loyalty Programs and Coworking Are a Perfect Match
It makes plenty of sense. For the longest time, a number of hotel lobbies have served as de facto coworking spaces for travelers and locals alike.
“I think hotel lobbies are becoming coworking spaces whether they like them or not,” said Martina Luger, chief marketing officer of London-based Ennismore, the parent company behind the Hoxton Hotels brand of boutique hotels. “Everyone [in hotels] has to have a point of view on them. Whether you do a full coworking brand, it’s a big step or commitment.”
Ennismore is one such hotel and travel brand that’s fully committing to coworking. In October, Ennismore is launching Working From, its own standalone coworking brand, with the first two spaces slated to open in Chicago. While they’ll be housed within Hoxton Hotels, that doesn’t mean that future Working From locations will be limited to Hoxton properties.
Another hotel group that’s getting even deeper into co-working is Paris-based Accor, whose brands include Sofitel, Ibis, Fairmont, Onefinestay, Mercure and Novotel, among others. Two years ago, Accor invested in a joint-venture with a French real estate company, Bouygues Immobilier, which also included an investment in the coworking brand Wojo (formerly known as Nextdoor).
Accor plans to make Wojo the largest coworking brand in Europe by 2022 by adding 50 more locations in Europe over the next five years — up from just 10, as well as adding more than 1,000 Wojo Spots and Wojo Corners. Spots and Corners are smaller-scale coworking spaces than full Wojo locations, and will be housed within existing Accor hotel properties.
And if you happen to be an Accor loyalty member, you’ll reap some serious benefits and access, even as Accor transitions from its existing Le Club AccorHotels loyalty program to the new Accor Live Limitless (ALL) program, which is set to officially launch by the end of this year.
“You can earn points when you work at Wojo and turn it in to leisure stays,” said Frédéric Fontaine, senior vice president of marketing for Accor’s Innovation Lab. “You can have a leisure stay and turn it into points to work at Wojo. It’s backing the strategy of our group to make sure our hotel properties are closer to everyone’s daily lives.”
“Our customer is the same,” added Stéphane Bensimon, the CEO of Wojo. “We can draw from the travel business and we can use the Accor loyalty program in our Wojo world.”
Ennismore’s Hoxton Hotels brand doesn’t have a traditional hotel loyalty program like Accor, but Working From membership has its perks, many of which you can redeem from the hotels themselves.
Those memberships, for example, include “Deadline” hotel rates where you can book a last-minute hotel stay for just the cost of cleaning to get your work done.
“We definitely believe there are Working From members who will have access to benefits form the Hoxton,” said Luger. “You can get discounts on rooms and food and beverage and the desk service [Working From’s version of room service, but for coworking users] or Deadline rates, where you can ring us up and see if you need a room for just the cost of cleaning.”
Of Working From members, she said, “We know that [you’ve] made a commitment to us. You have access to perks across the Hoxton family. That’s what we have in comparison to some of the other coworking brands. You are part of the hotel.”
The additional hospitality services that a hotel can provide to a formal coworking space, too, are what sets Accor’s Wojo and Ennismore’s Working From brands apart from other players in the coworking space.
“The support of the hotel network will definitely help us to reinforce the brand and to have a strong visibility through a strong network outside of the US,” said Wojo’s Bensimon.
“I think it’s a combination of hospitality and work. ‘Work-spitality’ is something that will be unique in the coworking market,” Fontaine said, adding, “WeWork is a very respectable, growing company, but they essentially sit on the model which is rapid expansion in big buildings. We are offering an alternative to this that we can cover with our hospitality expertise.”
You Can Use Your Credit Card to Access Coworking
Hotel loyalty members aren’t the only ones who are getting access to coworking spaces. Earlier this year, WeWork teamed up with American Express to give card holders with the Business Platinum Card® from American Express a full year of complimentary access to WeWork’s entire global network of spaces and services (must enroll by 12/31/19 to be eligible for this benefit).
“With this partnership, Business Platinum Card Members will not only have access to WeWork’s network of workspace and amenities, but will be part of WeWork’s community of 400,000 members around the world,” said Marcy Shinder, WeWork’s global head of marketing partnerships. “WeWork member companies report that their proximity to other members gives them a competitive edge, and 80% credit WeWork with improving their company’s productivity. We’re excited to support American Express Card Members with the space, community and services they need to continue to grow and succeed.”
Since the partnership launched, more than 24,000 workspaces in more than 100 cities and 400 WeWork locations have been accessed by American Express Business Platinum Card members.
This isn’t the first time WeWork has teamed up with another brand to provide global access to its spaces and services, either. In the fall of 2017, WeWork and Airbnb teamed up to give business travelers access to WeWork desks and services.
More Hotels Are Embracing Coworking Than Ever Before
Even if you’re not planning to use travel loyalty or credit cards to cowork, more and more hotels are making it easier than ever for people to utilize their public spaces just as they would use a formal coworking office.
Ace Hotels, which is often credited for jumpstarting the hotel lobby coworking space concept with its New York City property when it first opened in 2009, isn’t planning to launch a coworking brand of its own anytime soon, but it hasn’t forgotten the importance of coworking to its business.
“While we don’t have plans to formalize coworking at Ace properties and beyond . . . you may have seen people gravitating toward working out of Sister City already. Part of the Ace ethos has been to have spaces that are open to what people need,” an Atelier Ace spokesperson told The Points Guy. “At Ace Hotel properties, specifically, our properties are open to the public at all hours. We’ve always offered free Wi-Fi and food and coffee service in our lobbies, since the first large lobby opened at Ace Portland in 2007.”
Even Sheraton, from Marriott, is looking at getting deeper into coworking.
“We are currently exploring several partnerships centered around the idea of productivity and coworking,” Indy Adenaw, vice president of brand management for Sheraton Hotels and Resorts, told The Points Guy. “Within our public lobby spaces, you’ll find elements that encourage coworking and productivity, allowing the guests and visitors to ‘work alone’ while being among others in a busy and bustling environment.”
Those elements include a venue that doubles as a coffee bar in the daytime and a more traditional bar at night; productivity tables that include wireless charging and lockable drawers; on-demand meeting spaces; and even soundproof booths where you can take calls in private.
As more travelers and locals alike are working remotely or on the go, it’s clear that coworking spaces, hotel brands and loyalty programs are going to find as many ways as possible can to meet their needs.
“There’s an affinity between loyalty and coworking,” said Ennismore’s Luger. “As a brand, we are very much about being open and being a part of the community and rooting ourselves in our communities . . . We saw our guests wanting this — coworking — and it felt like a natural extension for us.”
Feature photo courtesy of WeWork.