Rethinking hospitality: Is coliving an alternative?

On 3rd June, CO-Liv, in collaboration with RE:Women brought together the first female-led Co-Liv panel discussion, on the future of hospitality and coliving.

Coliving Events Insights
Hosted by Co-Liv Head of Ambassadors, Cate Maiolini, and moderated by Virginia Perez Nieto, Co-Liv Spain Ambassador, the discussion included the following panelists:
  • Anne Schaeflein. Anne  pursued a career at Irelands’ K-Club, Scotland’s Gleneagles hotel and Relais Chateaux properties. After becoming a mum, she founded an award-winning Deli, joined CampbellGray Hotels, established her project consultancy firm QANNIK and in 2020, co-founded NeuSpace. Anne  believes in learning and sharing knowledge via collaboration.

  • Lyuba Sorokina. Lyuba is an entrepreneur and guest experience expert with a passion for hospitality, travel and innovation. In 2009, Lyuba and her partner founded Soul Kitchen Hostel - a multi-award winning hostel recognised for its quality and experience - which became a co-living space in 2020 in partnership with Smena Station.

  • Patrizia Zueck. Patriziagained a degree in International Hospitality Management from Ecole Hôtelière de Lausanne, and professional experiences working at the Dolder Grand in Zurich, Sydell Group in New York, NoMad and The Line brands.  she is the Pre-Opening Sales Manager of Zoku Vienna, an innovative home-office hybrid which opened on the 1st of June 2021

  • Virginie Perret. Viriginie is the founder and CEO of COOLOC - a brand new community based in France, securing the link between property owner and tenant. 

In this blog  we’ll cover 3 main points from the panel discussion,  which focussed on coliving as an alternative within the hospitality industry.

  1. Community is one of the most important aspects of coliving

The panel agreed that coliving should focus on community, shared values and togetherness. People are “social creatures”, Anne says, “community is the essence” of coliving. 

Coliving should not only encourage social interaction, it ought to offer a sense of freedom for residents, who’ve chosen to live together. Lyuba follows on this by suggesting that coliving residents have a willingness for openness and sharing. In her experience, residents tend to give to a community that gives back to them. Virginie adds also  that coliving is about offering great  services and user experiences. 

Coliving spaces can also be enjoyed by a wider community; Anne poses the question - “how can urban settings become attractive again [in a post-pandemic world]?” Soul Kitchen Hostel encourages engagement from the wider community, by inviting non residents to events that are held in their spaces. Taking a similar approach, Zoku hosts events which encourage residents, operators and the local community to interact with each other. People are particularly attracted to their stunning rooftop terrace overlooking the Prater, Zoku also hosts activities open to everyone, such as Yoga, networking events and food initiatives. Anne speaks about the inclusiveness of a wider community, which encourages participation from people young and old, as well as enabling urban spaces to flourish. These events are often hosted by a Community Manager, whom the panel agreed is a vital member of an operation team; at Zoku, the role of the Community Managers is to “create the connection between the residents, as well as the community. They know who are the regulars, and they [Community Managers] fuel that”. 

  1. Coliving offers solution faced by the pandemic

The pandemic has had a dramatic impact on hospitality and it’s been a challenging year for the panel members, who have had to rethink their business models. Pre-pandemic, Soul Kitchen Hostel targeted foreign visitors. In this last year, Lyuba says “our  team changed our philosophy and management...we had to stop thinking [of ourselves] as a hospitality product and start considering a flexible model for operation and management that embraces taking tourists in the high season and accommodating long-term residents during the low season”. Currently, 95% of their visitors are Russian tourists coming to experience their city and culture. At Zoku, Patrizia is witnessing changes to how people travel. Due to the rise  of working from home, business people choose to stay in the same place for a few weeks at a time, instead of regularly flying back and forth. This encourages the same people to come back to Zoku for example, and it creates a feeling that they are coming home, which Patrizia believes is a changing shift in mindset. Virginie agrees, stating  that long-term residents are more beneficial to the coliving industry, particularly from an investment point of view.

Additionally, both Lyuba and Anne believe that the positives of coliving include alleviating feelings of loneliness, which have been heightened by the pandemic. Again, the communal nature of coliving is crucial. 

  1. The future of hospitality is hybrid

One of the emerging trends from the pandemic is hybrid hospitality models, combining hotel stays with short-term and long-term residencies, which are now offered by both Zoku and Soul Kitchen Hostel. Lyuba says their flexible leases were first considered during the pandemic, as they initially closed down and had to reconsider their model in order to survive. 

Hybrid models are flexible, Anne says. She believes that it will work “as we have to be adaptable as humans and society in order to survive”. For operators, it’s important to have an adaptable approach to residents. Anne thinks that merging tourists and residents together will have positive results. Whilst they bring a different vibe, when both segments are brought together “something amazing happens”. It does require balance, however, and Virginie notes that it’s challenging to offer a hybrid model in France, where the regulation around short-term stays is stricter, therefore COOLOC offer long-term stays..

If you missed the event, you can listen to the podcast recording or you watch the video recording

This blog post is co-written by Cate Maiolini and Lucy McInally

With lots of co-love,

The Co-Liv Team

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