A Place to Work… Not Just to Sleep

David Esseryk, the Accor Group’s vice president of consumer technologies, is in charge of guest-facing technology for all brands. In this month’s regular report, he looks at how work spaces are evolving in the hotel setting…

It’s time to shed the image of dark boardrooms and stuffy conference spaces. Hotels are reinventing their meetings spaces in an effort to appeal to a younger, hipper and more tech-savvy crowd. Today’s hotel conference rooms are equipped with updated technology, adjusted lighting based on time of day and “mood” settings. The new features offer innovative options that bring a bit of culture into the traditionally drab meetings space while also focusing more on the work-life balance that busy execs juggle on a daily basis.



Of the more innovative work-labs was the debut of an app called “RED” (a play on Marriott’s traditional “red coat” service) that can be used by meeting planners or executives in the room, which would connect with members of the hotel. For example, if the temperature needed to be adjusted or coffee needed to be refilled, a simple request via a mobile app would send a message from the conference room to the specific area of the hotel with the meeting room request. The hotel’s meetings staff could reply back through the app letting guests know they’ve received the request, and then offer a time of delivery or service update.

New ergonomic, flexible chairs give way to stretching during meetings so muscles won’t become tight and uncomfortable. Rolling chart boards and easels help keep meetings more interactive, and plug-in stations outside conference rooms keep busy executives connected.

At some of the Mandarin properties, a Conference Concierge, which is already in place, is on the floor at all times ready to assist meeting planners with any last-minute requests. The advent of increased technology also is giving Mandarin Oriental a few new, innovative options, including an onsite “Geek Squad”, on-demand delivery of electronic devices and the renovations of the traditional business center, which are now being referred to as business “lounges”, complete with Microsoft surface tables and an iPad library.

Clients are using lounge furniture to create more comfortable, relaxed settings. These intimate meetings draw smaller and more targeted audiences. As the traditional office undergoes a global demise, hotels are starting to change their function to accommodate the new wave of mobile workers. Earlier this year, Marriott started testing a new concept called Workspace on Demand. Mercure Hotels has started a similar concept called EasyWork.

Some customers had been sneaking into the lobby to steal WiFi, or else were sitting in the parking lot and plugging in from their car. Hoteliers have recognised this and are now giving their permission for these people to come in and sit in their lobby.

(…) hotels are starting to change their function to accommodate the new wave of mobile workers.

Hotels implicitly are in the business of space. They are extraordinarily efficient at providing space on demand. The next logical step is to broaden the brand as a place to work, not just a place to sleep.