Home-based freelances and contractors often rely on coffee shops to provide a venue for meetings or even solitary work, equipped, as the shops are, with Wi-Fi. All you need is a laptop, tablet, or smart phone, depending on the type of work you do.
But perhaps Yogi Berra would now say of Starbucks, “No one goes there anymore. It's too crowded.” The new venue of choice for consultants, bloggers, and other office-free types is the lobby of a boutique urban hotel, according to an article in the Wall Street Journal. The writer Alina Dizik quotes Ted Copeland, a sales executive, as saying, “Starbucks was always crowded,” and he prefers the working fireplace, 18-foot ceilings, plentiful electrical outlets, and the bathrooms of the Public, a boutique hotel in Chicago.
So what do hotel managers think of having their space commandeered by locals? According to Dizik, “Hoteliers say they like a lobby that is abuzz with locals doing business or kicking back, and out-of-town guests like the local feel, too,” with guests willing to pay a premium to stay at a property with buzz.
She adds, however, that “… a lobby full of freelancers poses certain risks to the hotel's image,” and quotes Laurent Vernhes, co-founder of booking service Tablet Hotels, as saying, “If you are inviting the locals to hang out in the lobby, you better make sure they represent your brand.”
And further, local customers can create a revenue stream for hotels during off-peak hours when their overnight guests are in business meetings or sightseeing. Dizik notes that while Copeland says he spends about $5 per visit, independent consultant Edward Ryan racked up a $60 tab in one hotel's lobby, “ordering a morning coffee, bottled water and a beef-and-Stilton meat pie for lunch. A few hours later, he was ready for a Dogfish Head Indian Brown Ale, available for $9.”
Perhaps the hotel lobby's popularity for locals will extend beyond freelances and contractors. I've commented earlier on the BYOD model, in which employees bring their own devices. Perhaps the next fad will be FYOV, for find your own venue.