AccorHotels expands into co-working

AccorHotels and Bouygues Immobiliser have created a 50/50 joint venture with the aim of accelerating the growth of Bouygues Immobiliser's co-working brand Nextdoor in France and throughout Europe.

This latest investment sees AccorHotels further expand its concept of hospitality as it builds on the “three verticals” strategy it announced earlier this year, increasing its touchpoints with the consumer.

Under the joint venture, AccorHotels will use its distribution channels to take advantage of the forecast that, within the next five years, flexible workspaces could represent 10 percent to 20 percent of office space in France, compared with 2 percent currently.

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AccorHotels said it would also “bring its unparalleled expertise in customer relations, hospitality and concierge services, and its experience of site operation in France and internationally.” The pair have targeted 80 Nextdoor workspaces by 2022.

Co-working has been growing in popularity. According to the 2017 Global Coworking Survey, there were approximately 11,300 co-working spaces with 835,000 members last year, with the study predicting that there would be more than 1 million members this year.

AccorHotels’ is not the first foray by the operators into co-working. In 2013, Marriott International launched Workspace on Demand, a collaboration with LiquidSpace, a mobile/web app connecting people in search of flexible workspaces with venues providing workspaces that the operator said would be “easy to find and simple to reserve, just like a hotel room.”

One of the biggest brands in co-working is WeWork, with 45 locations in 15 countries. The company has four different membership plans, from on-demand use to hot desking (or desk sharing), through a dedicated desk to a private office. The company has branched out into shared living—WeLive—but has also started offering accommodation at WeWork— becoming a hotel or private members’ club by any other name.

In Amsterdam, the Zoku Amsterdam hotel and WeWork have set up in the same building. “The borders between work and leisure are blurring, which has an effect of spaces we use for work, like and play,” said Hans Meyer, Zoku co-founder. “Combining Zoku and WeWork is a logical step facilitating this new type of lifestyle, where we create a springboard for international talent and an ecosystem for the new international economy.

“Within these four walls you find everything to live comfortable and work efficiently, as well as broaden your personal and professional network and getting nurtured. The project in Amsterdam has already proven its success.”

Earlier this year saw Sébastien Bazin, AccorHotels’ chairman & CEO, announce the company’s three verticals strategy. He said: “We need to diversify outside of hotels. We will continue to work in hotels for the next 50 years as we have over the last 50 years, but what about when our colleagues want something more? What about some people want more than just a hotel room?”

Commenting on the third vertical, community, (the first two being traditional hotels and the travel space) Bazin added that it had “nothing to do with travel but it’s plugged into community services. But the three have something in common and it’s very important. It’s customer relationship. The database will be common to the three. The loyalty programme will be common to all three. Technology will be common because the three will mutually enrich each other. If we do this right, vertical two and vertical three will represent 30 percent of mid-term results in five years’ time.”

At this year’s International Hotel Investment Forum, Bazin said that the company had a customer relationship “that is perhaps three, four, five times a year when we see you in our hotels. Facebook has a relationship with its customers seven times a day.

“I have absolutely to ensure that this group leverages interaction with its customer more than three, five times. I’m going to ask you to travel once a month, so I have to enter your daily life. What can I do for you when you’re not traveling, what can I do for you when you’re not traveling with me even if you are going to Marriott or Airbnb and if you’re visiting your granny?”

AccorHotels can now provide somewhere to work, rest and play.

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