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Pod hotels now not much larger than eggs
September 9 2013

GoSleep’s Finnish-designed guest accommodations look like misshapen eggs.

Highlights
  • Terence Baker starts at Hotel News Now as Reporter, Europe.
  • Japanese-style pod hotels in or coming to the EMEA region are becoming minuscule.
  • GoSleep “hotel” pods at Abu Dhabi International Airport are shaped like eggs.
     

Please let me introduce myself. My name is Terence Baker, and a few weeks ago I had the pleasure of starting at Hotel News Now as Reporter for Europe. I’ll be covering the hotel industry in Europe. A Brit, I am based in STR Global’s office in London, but I have spent 20 years living and working in the New York area, covering leisure travel, meetings, conventions, events, incentive travel and hotel business.

Drop me a line. I’d love to hear from you about what’s on your mind regarding the European hotel industry and any overlaps it has with other regions—which in this global world, could mean just about anything.

Need sleep? Find a box
Having flown in the last year to or from European airports in Amsterdam, Ancona, Berlin, Eindhoven, London Gatwick, London Stansted, Rome, Trieste and Valencia, I have started seeing the rise of the pod hotel. The Yotel Hotel at London’s Gatwick and CitizenM Schiphol Amsterdam Airport—although I do notice with chagrin that its rooms are not much smaller than my old apartment in Brooklyn—are two examples.

And these “hotels” are getting smaller. Two options, Sleepbox and GoSleep, are in the business of providing little more than a comfortable box.

Sleepbox, designed by Moscow-based Arch Group, has three designs—one bed, two bunk beds or three bunk beds—that can be wedged into any airport corner of choice. People can pay for an overnight stay or a quick nap. An odd concept for many, but exhausted travelers might delight in them.

At the moment, there are no Sleepboxes in operation, and the company’s website seems to list numerous stories of delays—ash clouds, strikes, that kind of thing.

GoSleep is a brand that in May opened in Abu Dhabi International Airport. Its Finnish-designed lodgings look like misshapen eggs.

My fear for sleepers is that transit passengers will wonder what they are and decide to investigate by rattling, kicking and wobbling them. A news release from the airport describes them as a “state of the art chair that converts into a private flat bed.” Somehow they will even include social media requirements, with the release adding that soon “the chairs will be upgraded to include Internet access and allow customers to charge their laptops, mobile telephones and other electronic devices.”

Expect to see Sleepbox(es) soon and more GoSleep options.

What will be interesting continually, however, is to see how these cheap, convenient, increasingly prevalent accommodations options will affect traditional airport hotels. Will they be duty-free? Passengers around the world will get familiar with these options, not just those travelers from certain Asian countries. (Capsule hotels originated in Japan, the first in Osaka aimed at stressed executives who worked 18 hours a day and then had a two-hour commute.)

Hoteliers are in the business of relationships
A friend of mine years ago used to be fond of saying, “There are only nine people on Earth, the rest is mirrors.”

I think I know what he means.

Let me give an example. On my first walk to my new office home, I strolled down Southwark Street in London and passed the CitizenM hotel. I’ll have to write something on that, I thought. Then, in my first weekend off I attended a wedding in Steyl in southeast Holland, and the brother of the groom worked for … yes, CitizenM.

He manages its hotel development division. I flew home from Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport and saw another CitizenM hotel. (There are only four worldwide, although there are plans for more). The next work day, I turned on my computer, and at the top of the first page I looked at, the BBC, was a banner for—you guessed it—CitizenM.

What this made clear to me is that the hotel business is one of relationships—and marketing, of course. Relationships: constantly fostered, constantly sought, constantly made. On one side it is about service and hospitality, on the other side about numbers, margins, revenue streams, distribution channels and all those wonderful things.

I am jumping into the pool, too. I hope to meet many of you.

Email Terence Baker or find him on Twitter.

The opinions expressed in this blog do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Hotel News Now or its parent company, STR and its affiliated companies. Bloggers published on this site are given the freedom to express views that may be controversial, but our goal is to provoke thought and constructive discussion within our reader community. Please feel free to comment or contact an editor with any questions or concerns.

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