The way we’re working is changing and the modern office of today is embracing flexible work spaces, creative interior design and employee wellbeing.
But what has this got to do with the hospitality industry? Vanessa Jackman, sales and marketing director at Valor Hospitality Europe looks at why hotels offering meeting and event spaces need to keep up with a different way of working…
As someone who has spent over 25 years working in the hospitality industry, I’ve seen my fair share of hotels, and countless meeting rooms. As much as the hospitality industry has changed during this time, so has the way businesses working in more traditional office environments operate too. In many industries, the stereotype of the 9-to-5 office worker in a drab, uninspiring office is becoming a thing of the past, so when these businesses look for meeting space, they want something that’s engaging and flexible.
It’s not uncommon in modern offices to find breakout areas, co-working spaces or cafés, giving people much more flexibility on where and how they work. With these types of facilities now available in office buildings, traditional hotel meeting spaces need to step-up in order to compete.
Raising the bar (and restaurant)
Advances in technology and a change in office culture means that people can work anytime, anywhere. Since the launch of The Lock and Store Street Exchange, our restaurants and bars at our DoubleTree by Hilton hotels in Leeds and Manchester have seen an increase in people using these spaces for working and meetings. It’s not uncommon to visit either of these restaurants in the middle of a weekday and find the place full of people on laptops or having informal businesses meetings over a coffee. It’s a whole new way of working.
With this in mind, we wanted to capture this atmosphere and bring it into our newly refurbished meeting spaces. These two areas now seamlessly flow together, creating an engaging co-working space but with dedicated meeting rooms for when privacy is needed.
When we refurbished the meeting rooms at our DoubleTree by Hilton hotels in Manchester and Leeds, as well integrating them with the wider restaurant area, getting the right look and feel was our top priority. The impact that a well-designed space can have on our productivity is being increasingly recognised by employers and employees alike.
As well as all new décor and upgraded technology, such as wireless AV systems and adjustable lighting in the meeting rooms, we reconfigured the breakout spaces so that they’re not only more luxurious, they’re more flexible too. Comfortable seating and dedicated coffee stations where guests can help themselves to hot and cold refreshments, has also created a much more laidback environment. People can use these spaces in whatever way works best for their businesses and they’re not restricted to the confines of a boardroom. Even organisations that have traditionally been more corporate are embracing more relaxed and engaging ways of working, so meeting spaces need to reflect that too.
Food for thought
It’s not just the physical space that’s changed, we’re also in the processes of updating our menus for meetings and events at all 17 of our hotels. We are now becoming more aware of how our physical environment can influence our productivity and we know that what we eat and drink can affect us too. If you’re having a bog-standard lunch, it’s not going to be very inspiring. Who knows, food with a little extra flair that can provide a refreshing break could even help spark the next bright idea at your meeting.
Bookings for meetings and event spaces is a key revenue stream for many hotels so getting the offer right is crucial. Where offices can now offer so much more for the flexible worker, if hotels don’t compete, they are in danger of losing out. The days of the drab boardroom are definitely over.