January 16, 2013

Marriott kicks off workspace rental pilot


Hotels have always catered to business customers. In an era where many workers are mobile, why not let them rent office space as easily as they can a bedroom?

That’s the thinking behind “Workspace on Demand,” a new program the company is testing in the Washington, D.C., San Francisco, Atlanta, Houston, St. Louis and Redmond (Wash.) metropolitan areas of the United States. Whether it is to better use existing inventory, take a piece of the market from existing players like Regus or just ride the growing coworking trend, Marriott wants in — and it is partnering with mobile app firm LiquidSpace to do so.

The process is pretty simple: head to LiquidSpace’s website, select the location you want, review the provided calendar for openings and book an available room. A cursory search for spaces revealed as diverse locations as an L-shaped couch in the lobby of a Courtyard hotel in Alexandria, Va. (free) and a 10-person private meeting room in a Marriott hotel in Atlanta, Ga. ($75 per hour; $250 per half day).

More than 30 Marriott hotels - spanning its Renaissance, Courtyard and namesake brands - are included in the pilot. The hotel chain says younger workers, an increase in telework and globalization all play a part in its decision to launch the effort, though it certainly plays a part that cash-strapped companies are looking to reduce fixed expenses like office space and headcount.

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