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Hotels riding on WFH concept

The Covid-19 pandemic rages on. Annie is busy replying emails and making phone calls. After a while, she decides to unwind. She parts the curtains and takes in the picturesque view of the city skyline. Feeling peckish, she rings up room service and not long after, she is enjoying her piping hot meal and as many cups of coffee or tea as she wishes.

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How about a 'workcation'?

The scenario sums up the work-from-hotel experience – an alternative to the typical work-from home option – offered by hotels struggling from plummeting occupancy rates.

These work-from-hotel packages can start from as low as RM19, offered by hospitality chain OYO Hotels & Homes.

For those who have higher budgets, they could consider five-star hotels like Shangri-La, which even offers guests access to their health club and spa at attractive prices, with a one-person executive -room with daily rates from RM190 (8am – 8pm).

Insufficient to cover losses, but...

“Hotels are coming up with creative products and services to sustain operations and such work-from-hotel packages are one of those where hotels are making use of their available resources to generate additional revenues,” Malaysian Association of Hotels CEO Yap Lip Seng tells EdgeProp.my.

Yap concedes that these offers however, will not be enough to cushion losses that hotels are suffering from at the moment.

“Solely for the purpose of survival, these efforts are to ensure the job security of the employees or at the very least, pay their salaries,” he says, adding that hotels began offering such services with hotel rooms as co-working spaces during the recovery movement control order (RMCO) in June, but it did not gain much traction.

“The recent offers that are utilising public spaces such as cafes and lobbies are slightly more attractive with added value such as free-flow coffee and tea as well as high-speed internet access. While the concept is picking up, it will likely not drive much revenue to the hotels,” admits Yap.

On other unique ways hotels have adopted to stay afloat, he says that apart from attractive packages and cross selling, the hotels have explored many other opportunities from enhancing in-room entertainment to offering virtual meeting spaces and even home-housekeeping services with the promise of hotel-standard hygiene and cleanliness.

For instance, Mandarin Oriental Kuala Lumpur is offering its five-star cleaning services to the interested public who are staying within 10km of Kuala Lumpur city centre for a fee.

“But then again, these are very focused into sustaining jobs for its employees and avoiding redundancies that may lead to more losing their jobs,” says Yap.

In terms of effectiveness, Rahim and Co International’s CEO of real estate agency Siva Shanker notes there would still be uncertainties. However, this concept (of working from a hotel) provides an alternative to consumers, especially those who need the additional privacy and facilities.

“Hotels have been affected quite badly [by the pandemic]. By incorporating elements from co-working spaces, the hotels have cleverly gone one step further by opening up their rooms or spaces,” notes Siva.

A fresh concept for consumers

As for working professionals, the old adage of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” still applies to some when it comes to their present situation of working from home. Plus, it is easier on the wallet too.

For some individuals though, they find this fresh concept worthy of their consideration.

“I think work-from-hotel packages is creative, and its success will be dependent on the location as well.

“It is also quite niche but if the hotels consider their target market and allow for some form of flexibility with their packages, it would be able to attract more customers,” Brian Lim, an executive from a local oil and gas company, shares with EdgeProp.my.

Additionally, an editor at a local business magazine who only wants to be known as Raj, embraces the idea.

“At home, I live with a large number of people, so working from a hotel provides the much-needed privacy and of course, faster and more stable Wi-Fi.

“And, at my ‘makeshift’ 5-star hotel-cum-office, coffee and tea are always ready and available!” he quips.

This story first appeared in the EdgeProp.my e-Pub on Nov 6, 2020. You can access back issues here.

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