Hotels look at communal spaces from a new perspective.

It may be a matter of sending emails from a coworking area with power outlets. For corporate travellers, this may mean they can send a few emails, while leisure guests may choose to linger at tables with board games or upload photos to social media from their lounging areas.

David A. says that today’s travellers place more importance on convenience, community and sense of place than on traditional hotel luxuries. Black, Americas Hotels Lead for JLL Project and Development Services. “This is one reason hotel companies are creating soft brands emphasizing communal areas and spaces that bring people together.

Tru by Hilton, the upcoming hotel brand, is one of many that encourages guests to spend less time in rooms and more time in specially designed communal areas. The brand’s creative space, “The Hive”, is targeted at Millennials (or people with a “Millennial mindset”) who want to interact with other travellers. Instead of traditional lobby space, guests can access four zones: work, play and lounge. These areas are designed to encourage interaction and engagement.

Moxy Hotels, Marriott’s boutique hotel brand, has an industrial-style lobby that features coffee and full-service bars. Moxy Hotels hopes Millennials will appreciate its unique feature, a communal ironing nook.

“Some of the communal space is not new,” Lauro Ferroni (JLL’s Global Head for Hotels & Hospitality Research) says. “Hotels have always had lobbies, bars, restaurants, and pools. Hotels are now focusing on the design and features of these communal spaces to appeal to younger travellers.

One New Jersey hotel, The Asbury, has created a permanent backyard barbecue area with Ping-Pong tables and live music. Craft beer and food trucks are also available (served in a converted VW van).

Bringing travellers together

Hotels are looking for new ways to host larger groups of families and friends travelling together, thanks to the growing popularity of online home-rental platforms like Airbnb and HomeAway.

Marriott’s mid-range brand Element is testing blocks of private rooms around a shared kitchen and living area. It’s all about a more collaborative economy these days. In an interview with KTLA, Toni Stoeckl, a Global Business Leader at Marriott, stated that it’s more about socializing and a feeling of community when you travel.

Hotels face the challenge of designing communal areas that appeal to their guests and provide them with privacy.

Black says that although there is a greater focus on the Millennial traveller, hotel brands cannot afford to ignore more “seasoned” travellers. Black says that design solutions should be flexible enough to provide spaces that appeal to both the coworking and co-living generations and those that appeal to baby boomers. There are no one-size fits all solution.

People travelling together have different expectations and needs than those who travel alone.

Ferroni says that the best part of travelling is the shared experiences. But you will also have people who won’t be interested in this type of thing, regardless if they are business travellers looking for their own space or leisure travellers wanting to take their time.

Is it time for a new way of thinking?

Co-living and coworking are gaining popularity, leading to more social spaces in hotels, especially for younger customers.

Ferroni in the U.S. believes that it will become a popular concept in larger cities.

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