Hotels, like all travel-related businesses, have been hit hard by the pandemic. Even as lockdown restrictions have been lifted, enabling hotels to resume operations with strict health and safety protocols in place, traveling is still a no-go for many members of the general public, meaning they’re not all that likely to book overnight stays. So in order to find some source of revenue, hotels have turned to offering “work-from-hotel” deals, cashing in on all the employees who are working remotely while their offices are closed during the pandemic. We’ve seen dozens of these deals marketed to potential guests, but we’re curious—is anyone actually booking them?
What Does Work-From-Hotel Even Mean?
Over the course of the pandemic, hotels have started to offer guests day rates where they can book a room for a single day, but not overnight. The biggest perk to a day rate is that you can use a hotel room during daytime hours, whereas overnight stays usually have a late-afternoon check-in and a morning check-out, leaving the rooms unoccupied for the bulk of the day. While in the past, day rates have been typically booked by travelers on layovers at airports or guests looking to use a property’s facilities, such as a pool or a private beach area, hotels are now marketing day rates as a “work-from-hotel” opportunity—guests can book rooms as a private office to use during working hours. It’s not all that different from the model of co-working spaces like WeWork, though the hotels’ programs don’t require any sort of paid membership.
Pros and Cons to Working from a Hotel
Naturally, one of the biggest problems about working from a hotel right now is the potential risk of exposure to the coronavirus. Hotels, of course, are doing everything they can to ensure a clean, safe experience for all their guests, but there’s always some risk involved in venturing out to public spaces. For those willing to chance it, a work-from-hotel deal gives people an opportunity to get out of their house for a bit—this is probably particularly appealing to urban dwellers in tiny apartments with no formal home office. Many hotels are also sweetening the pot, offering bonus incentives like free cocktails, free spa treatments, or even “business butler” service to help you with administrative tasks.
So, Is Anyone Booking These Deals?
According to Yannis Moati, CEO of HotelsByDay, a booking site for day-rate deals, business is growing. “We went from down 82 percent in sales at the height of the pandemic in April, to now down 36 percent, so we’re not out of the hole yet but we’re climbing back up,” he said. “And while the 28 percent of our guests that used to book our services for long layovers or red-eye refreshes is still an unrecovered segment, we have witnessed a surge of ‘Work From Hotel’ bookings—from 12 percent pre-pandemic, to over 30 percent of our bookings now.”
While bookings are on the rise, for many work-from-hotel guests, working from a hotel isn’t necessarily going to become a daily routine. Some are simply using the service as a breath of fresh air. “For the last two months, I’ve booked the service three times,” says Monica Kelly Lopes, who is developing a startup in Silicon Valley. “Leaving my home office has helped my creativity and productivity, and given my fiancé some more home space, which is also helpful during this challenging time.”
Other work-from-hotel guests are using the spaces for occasional in-person meetings. “Our office is closed, and we needed a convenient location for a day-long brainstorming session,” said Andrea Armeni, CEO and founder of New York-based nonprofit Transform Finance. “Of course, we were concerned about safety first and foremost. Working from a park or an outdoor cafe was just not an option—a clean hotel with a good reputation was our best bet.”
And others still are booking hotel day rates simply because they love hotels. “I normally travel often for work and enjoy the peace and quiet, as well as the level of service of hotels," said marketing professional Nicole Thomas, who ended up booking a work-from-hotel package that actually included an overnight stay. "After a few weeks of quarantine, I experienced cabin fever, but wanted to remain cautious and not be around a lot of people. I treated it as a mini-staycation once I was done with work. It was a great change of scenery, especially since coffee shops and other workspaces were closed.”
Day Rates Might Become the New Norm
While the pivot to work-from-hotel day rates is a pandemic-related stopgap, it might actually have long-term implications. “We believe the industry will be changed forever. Think about it! A huge box, full of rooms and full of staff used to be catered to one single segment of the demand—the night stay business,” said Moati. “This is now over. The formula of working-from-hotel, as well as any other piecemeal hotel service like meeting rooms, pool passes, et cetera, are becoming established services at hotels.”