If the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that most of us absolutely do not want to go back to the before times of soul-crushing commutes. Inching through an hour back up at the bridge? Not interested. Suffering the elbow jabs of jam-packed trains? Nope. The good news is many companies—especially those in the knowledge industry—are acknowledging remote work is here to stay. And that means workers can think a lot more creatively about where they want to do that all-day Zoom thing.
Some of the world’s biggest hotels are hoping you’ll want to come Zoom at their place. And like every other business that’s recognizing the lifetime value of subscription customers, they’re luring their loyals by creating new subscription models.
A Bit of Background
It probably comes as no surprise that the pandemic has devastated the hotel industry. Hotels were one of the first industries affected by the pandemic and will be one of the last to recover. In fact, recent research by the American Hotel and Lodging Association reports that Covid-19 set the industry back 10 years: in 2020, hotel room revenue dropped by nearly half to $84.6 billion, and hotel occupancy rates are expected to remain 30% below normal levels throughout 2021. “We’re hearing from our hotel partners that leisure travel will recover first and corporate travel will follow,” says Tahnee Perry, vice president of marketing for Deem, a global corporate travel management company. “And hotels overall are changing the way they operate, stepping up to do what’s needed to give business travelers confidence in coming back.”
As industry execs scrambled for ways to “step up,” some took their cues from subscription Cinderella stories like Netflix, Adobe, and Xbox. And though the vast majority of hotels still offer the traditional per-night rate, some chains have come up with ingenious subscription plans that offer a flat monthly or yearly fee in exchange for unlimited stays in multiple locations. You get a new view out of your window every week or month; the hotel gets an injection of sweet monthly recurring revenue that can help keep the doors open and staff employed.
Still others have gone further. For example, the owners of the famed Chateau Marmont in West Hollywood converted the property into a private members-only hotel in the wake of the pandemic, with something like a timeshare model (members own equity in the portfolio of properties and can use their membership at other destinations).
On the other end of the spectrum is the boutique chain, Selina. It’s going all-in on catering to the “digital nomad.” Their new subscription-based products rolled out in August, 2020 after they acquired Remote Year, a Chicago-based platform for remote working. Selina officials have said they’re shifting more than 50% of their rooms at properties across the world to their subscription program. The monthly or yearly subscription fee allows guests to property-hop around Selina’s locations and includes access to coworking spaces, wellness activities, laundry, and more.
Here’s what hotels are hoping you’ll be lured by with their subscription model:
•Priority room placement
•Rooms furnished with remote work in mind
•Deep discounts on food, drinks, and other amenities (spa, etc.)
•Free access to dedicated co-working spaces
•Free wellness classes
Other hotel subscription or membership models that are ramping up:
NY, LA, Miami & Chicago
-Monthly membership program: $2,499 + tax
-Stay as long as you want at any of their properties (seriously)
-Food and beverage discounts
-Co-working space access
Multiple US and European properties
-Purchase monthly blocks at flat fees of $50/night
-Minimum stay per property of seven nights and a maximum of 29 nights
-25% off all meals
Micro-apartment hotels in Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Vienna
-Subscription program is €2,750 for 30 days
-Discounts for bookings of multiple months
Not a hotel, but a London-based traveler-destination matchmaker platform that runs on a subscription model: pay monthly (currently £49.99 a month for one person; open to UK travelers only)
-You’ll get three “surprise” trips to Europe a year
-Includes flights and accommodation
Though it’s too soon to know whether this paradigm shift will be permanent, experts see the subscription-ication of hotels as a part of the multi-pronged recovery of a ravaged industry. And something that gives travel-starved workers something big to dream about.