Following the announcement of the England-wide lockdown from the 5th of November, and with the knowledge that a local lockdown could be imposed on any area within the UK in the foreseeable future, you may be looking for ways to diversify your business in order to bring in whatever income you can.
In Paris, many hosts have temporarily turned their hotels and B&Bs into safe workspaces, and are taking daily bookings from professionals in need of a quiet room to work away from home.
This blog is divided into 4 different sections: the first section gives a little background on the problem and business idea behind accommodations turning into private workspaces in Paris, and the next 3 explain how to turn your hotel into a private workspace, how to charge customers for working there, and how to market these new private offices.
Read on to discover why you should jump into this Parisian trend and how to go about it!
In an interview airing on French national television, Sebastien Bazin, CEO of Accor, the largest hotel group in Europe, stated that while he feels very optimistic about the future of travelling, the current crisis calls for business model changes and new income-generating opportunities to be seized.
During the course of the interview, Bazin specifically discussed the new home office situation for thousands of French professionals: small lodging, inadequate furniture, children to look after and poor internet connection (does that ring a bell? Hint: think of similar cities within the UK). Needless to say, this is far from the ideal work environment, unless you thrive in chaos, of course.
Yet, Bazin highlights that a major percentage of those who work from home (70% exactly) do not wish to return to the office and face a 1h30 commute to central Paris each day, and it’s a similar story for those living in big cities in the UK, especially London.
The solution (and business idea)
Accor studied the addresses of 2000 of their employees within the Paris region, and discovered that 80% of them lived less than a 20-minute walk or bike ride away from an Accor hotel. Since the closing of the head office of Accor due to Covid restrictions, Accor decided to offer empty hotel rooms as close-to-home dedicated workspaces to their employees. The results? 40% of them seized the opportunity to work there from the first week of the initiative.
During his interview, Bazin explained that this idea came in as an obvious option, considering their hotels include a Wifi connection, desks, chairs, lunch options, and everything else one would need to work comfortably.
How to turn your accommodation into a private workspace
At eviivo, we thought of ways independent accommodation providers could adapt their businesses into private workspaces, with a strong Wifi connection being the first requirement.
Ideally, your rooms are equipped with a desk and chair that could serve as a makeshift office. Having an in-room kettle and a basket of tea and coffee sachets would definitely make for a homely atmosphere, and you could upsell different coffee, milk, or tea varieties and snacks.
Alternatively, it would be a great idea to get your hands on cheap furniture from offices closing down, or people in your area selling used furniture.
Here are some suggestions on where to look:
You could also find cheap used furniture on eBay or Amazon, but keep in mind that the Covid-19 crisis has hit people and small businesses way harder than big corporations (some of which are particularly thriving right now). For this reason, we recommend doing a local search and potentially supporting a neighbour or a small business near you, as every extra penny makes a difference these days.
However, you need to be extra cautious when handling used items, by utilising PPE such as gloves and masks and cleaning and disinfecting them appropriately. Have a look at our dedicated blog for Covid-19 appropriate cleaning tips.
Here are some ideas for upsells and extras that you could implement to boost your revenue:
- Room service for coffee and snacks
- Lunch boxes or packages
- Premium coffee break with local bakeries (post-lockdown)
How to charge your customers
Day use offer
The first step is to compute how much the use of the room for 8-12 hours during the day would cost you. And from that, you can compute how much your margin should be to achieve the right revenue, and hence set up a day use rate – much like you’d set up your room rate for a night in your property.
Set a rate for 1-day use, 1-week use or 1-month use of the room. Some workers will probably wish to work on your property only 2 or 3 days a week.
The offer should be as flexible as possible for nearby workers, as their schedule might not be as set as a holidaymaker’s.
Your offer could be basic, or it could include more services like premium coffee break, lunch, etc.
Who to charge?
Negotiate terms with the person that needs a space to work – is their company willing to pay for the workspace? Try to get in touch with the company – there might be a chance they closed their offices for good and stopped paying rent, giving them extra cash to ensure their employees can work in the best possible conditions.
Try to get in touch with large companies nearby that have shut their offices. They are the ones you want to reach to offer alternative offices for their employees.
How to input your rates into eviivo suite
Create a manual booking in eviivo suite, starting on the day of the day use and finishing on the day after – because in any case, you need to leave space for deep cleaning and sanitisation.
Manually set up the day use price in the relevant box. You can also set up an offline rate plan dedicated to your day use offer that you can load when you enter a new booking on your diary. You can also set up a promotion for longer day use bookings.
Finally, don’t forget to set up the correct invoicing contact in your booking for the worker to eventually forward the invoice to their company.
Marketing your private workspace
Now that your rooms have transformed into cosy little offices, it’s time to get the word out to local professionals. As a first step, make sure to include information about your private workspaces on your website!
Display ads on local shops
It may be worth checking if any of the essential shops that are still open in your area allow display ads. If so, you can stick a poster with a message along the lines of ‘we offer workspaces away from home – contact this number or email address’. This way, you might grab the attention of professionals near you!
Take advantage of every free option you can. One of the most effective ways of driving attention to your business is to post in relevant Facebook groups, where you can reach people that are searching for what you’re offering.
If your city or town has a large expat community, find their Facebook groups and check their community rules. If they allow marketing and advertising, it would be a good idea to make an enticing, yet respectful post, letting them know that you offer alternative workspaces if they need them during this time. Especially in London, where professionals are crammed in tiny apartments, often living with strangers they don’t get along with, the option of an alternative work environment would be a welcome one for many.
You should also look out for Facebook groups dedicated to your area, and post in those as well if their rules allow it. The more eyes you can reach, the better!
Don’t forget to use relevant hashtags to boost your engagement. Check out Display Purposes, a free Instagram hashtag generator for inspiration and tips.
You could also set aside a budget for paid ads on Instagram or Facebook, but we highly recommend utilising all the available free options before you start thinking of taking extra steps.
A good idea would be to email past guests and let them know that your accommodation is open as a private workspace. You can use Sendiblue’s free mass mailing tool to kickstart your campaign.
With eviivo’s Guest Manager, you can easily create GDPR compliant marketing lists for immediate use, saving you valuable time and letting you focus on the important things, such as creating beautiful email templates! Click here to learn more.
Online Tourist Boards
Your local online tourist board could offer useful advice on how to go about marketing your private office spaces.
We hope these tips will help you discover new ways to run your business safely and effectively during, or even after any lockdowns within the country. For the latest Covid-19 updates affecting hospitality businesses, visit our blog, and for free marketing materials and resources, visit our Stay Open, Stay Safe Hub.