10/06/2020

Hotel rooms saw offices in the middle of the crisis

With no prospect of regaining the level of occupancy at the beginning of this year before 2023, hotels are taking advantage of the gradual reopening of the economy to seek revenue options while business travel and tourism show no signs of recovery. One of the alternatives found by two chains – the French chain Accor, owner of brands such as Ibis and Mercure, and the Paraná Bourbon – was to transform empty rooms into offices. With a quick remodeling – beds come out and mute servants, desks and chairs come in – the companies have already started renting the spaces for monthly values from R$ 2 thousand.

A study by Hotel Invest consultants showed that the situation is bad for the entire sector, but especially difficult for medium and high standard hotels focused on the corporate market. While economic hotels can reach 35% of average occupancy by the end of the year, higher value enterprises should be close to the 25% mark. In other words: a 300 room hotel will have, on average, 75 units occupied, resulting in an almost inevitable loss.

In search of creative solutions to contain the effects of the coronavirus crisis, Accor – leader in the Brazilian market – decided to act quickly. In May, it launched a product nicknamed “Room Office”, or fourth office. The operation began with the Ibis network, in 25 units. “We started in São Paulo and soon we realized an absurd demand to replicate in other states,” says Carlos Bernardo, director of economic and medium standard hotels at Accor.

Until the 12th, according to Bernardo, 43 more hotels around the country will start operating the model. As the developments are independent, the management team of each hotel can define the size of the “Room Office” – it can separate a wing from a floor, or an entire floor. The rental model is flexible: “The customer can book per day, per week or per month,” explains the executive.

For monthly rent, Accor rooms come out between R$ 2.2 thousand and R$ 3.1 thousand, depending on the size. Besides the office, the hotel also offers complimentary coffee and snacks, as well as serving meals for room service. Each unit can accommodate up to two workers. Accor also seeks ways to reopen its hotels in Brazil. Of the 300 units in the French network here, more than half are closed doors.

The second largest hotel in Latin America, the Bourbon Convention Ibirapuera, in São Paulo, has 630 units and about 70% of the movement concentrated in business tourism. The hotel is known for its large events area, which has capacity to accommodate up to 1.5 thousand people. After spending more than two months closed, Bourbon Ibirapuera has now reopened – and also bets on “office rooms” to survive.

According to Fabiano Machado, general director of the enterprise, 60 apartments are being transformed into offices. Each unit has 28 square meters and can accommodate up to four people. Besides occupying idle rooms, the Bourbon expects that the offices will also expand the movement of the enterprise restaurant, in which it is possible to order an executive lunch for about R$ 50. As in Ibis, coffee is a courtesy.

Privacy. Machado says that the private space is the main differential of the hotels compared to other temporary office options. “Besides, the hotel does not require a contract or any future obligation. The client can pay by credit card.” A fourth office at Bourbon Ibirapuera comes out for about R$3,000 a month. The company should expand the offer to Curitiba and Campinas (SP).

The entrepreneur Rudge Masiero de Aquino, founder of the Ideas startups incubator, joined the proposal of Bourbon Ibirapuera in the first days. He used the possibility of setting up a new office without bureaucracy to separate one of the five companies in his portfolio from the others. “It is a way to make the entrepreneur gain speed, because the costs of the company are no longer mixed with the others (incubated). It is a way to encourage the search for break-even (financial balance)”.

The digital signage company Apps2mart was chosen to occupy a “fourth office”. The company sells a solution that allows supermarkets to make promotions of certain items of their stock on screens installed at the point of sale. “In one click, the company can show the product photo, description and price from the information in the inventory”, she explains.

Aquino explains that he prefers the hotel environment to a coworking mainly also to protect himself from competition. “In coworking, besides the fact that your idea can be copied, there is an interaction between the companies. This opens up the possibility for another startup to identify a good employee and take him to work with her. You spend it to train an employee and someone ends up taking the person away. We end up serving as a filter for professionals from another company”.

The guest who arrives at the Vivenzo Savassi hotel no longer meets the receptionist face to face. A tablet, still on the outside, allows remote check-in. When arriving at the counter, he finds masks and can sanitize his hand in gel alcohol. The meals are served directly in the rooms, which is cleaned every three days, with employees covered from feet to head. Vivenzo Savassi – which is in a noble neighborhood of Belo Horizonte – is the pilot project of a lodging startup in the capital of Minas Gerais. The “trial by fire” of the operation was to keep the doors open amid the proliferation of covid-19 – preparing the protocol to continue operating cost R$150,000 (US$150,000), according to the company.

According to Frederico Amaral, founder of the Macna group, of which the Vivenzo hotel is part, 2020 will be a test of survival for the hotel industry. Since March, he says, it’s been impossible to keep the accounts in the blue – but with the partial recovery of the activity, the 48-year-old entrepreneur says he expects to close June at “zero to zero. Despite the devastating effect of the pandemic on the tourism sector, Amaral does not intend to take his foot off the accelerator. “We’re not going to stop anything. The five hotels that are planned will open. The sector will have to redesign itself – and we’ll be in the lead in this process.”

To face the traditional hotel chains, Macna has developed a system where the administrative part of all hotels is managed from a unified central structure. This is not what happens in traditional hotel chains, where the units are usually independent and function as a kind of franchise. This requires these structures to be replicated in each hotel.

Hotel Startup says it will open 5 units in 2020

The guest who arrives at the Vivenzo Savassi hotel no longer meets the receptionist face to face. A tablet, still on the outside, allows remote check-in. When arriving at the counter, he finds masks and can sanitize his hand in gel alcohol. The meals are served directly in the rooms, which is cleaned every three days, with employees covered from feet to head. Vivenzo Savassi – which is in a noble neighborhood of Belo Horizonte – is the pilot project of a lodging startup in the capital of Minas Gerais. The “trial by fire” of the operation was to keep the doors open amid the proliferation of covid-19 – preparing the protocol to continue operating cost R$150,000 (US$150,000), according to the company.

According to Frederico Amaral, founder of the Macna group, of which the Vivenzo hotel is part, 2020 will be a test of survival for the hotel industry. Since March, he says, it’s been impossible to keep the accounts in the blue – but with the partial recovery of the activity, the 48-year-old entrepreneur says he expects to close June at “zero to zero. Despite the devastating effect of the pandemic on the tourism sector, Amaral does not intend to take his foot off the accelerator. “We’re not going to stop anything. The five hotels that are planned will open. The sector will have to redesign itself – and we’ll be in the lead in this process.”

To face the traditional hotel chains, Macna has developed a system where the administrative part of all hotels is managed from a unified central structure. This is not what happens in traditional hotel chains, where the units are usually independent and function as a kind of franchise. This requires these structures to be replicated in each hotel. / The information is from the newspaper O Estado de S. Paulo.

Author: Estadão Conteúdo Source Isto É Dinheiro