Resisting Social Isolation: How Hospitality Is Transforming Community Spaces

This post was originally published by the Independent Lodging Congress.

Hospitality: A True Story

Last Winter I showed up half an hour early to a reservation. Surprisingly, I was seated immediately. While waiting for friends, my server Shane introduced himself and asked if there was anything he could do while I waited. Inevitably, I ordered a cocktail. Shane brought me my drink and a large basket of bread, which I inhaled quickly.

Shane checked on me frequently, asking if I needed anything else. At one point, he brushed my crumbs away with a device I’ve never seen before. “Do you mind me asking what that is,” I inquired. It was just a tool that was used to neatly brush crumbs off the table. Amazed, I asked where I can get one of those. He sadly informed me that he didn’t know.

Hours later, the tab arrived. Shane handed me a wrapper and, lo and behold, there was a crumb-brusher inside. “I snuck one for you,” he exclaimed. I told him I was going to give him the best Yelp review of his life. And that, I did. Along with a big fat tip, of course. That memorable and personal experience is exactly what hospitality is about.

The truth is, people crave human connection. Admittedly, I’m one of them! The hospitality industry has tapped into that and hotels are constantly focusing on creative ways to incorporate that special connection into their businesses. Today, that inherent need for social interaction is now making a major impact in the office and residential sectors, as well as through social clubs and extended-stays.

Technology and the sharing economy are changing how we live and work, and hotels are taking that into consideration when it comes to design and experience. Extended-stays allow guests to familiarize and integrate themselves into the local community. Whether it’s a co-working space or a lively bar, these hubs encourage guests to be around each other and engage.

Lobby – the merging of hotel community space where locals work, too

Hotels have spent a gross amount of money on furnishing their lobbies to look inviting—whether it’s making it look bourgeoisie or homey. A lobby is a prime space that can act as a hub for social interaction because that’s where everyone gathers. They have become multi-functional community spaces that serve as a technology and information center, a hangout spot, and even a work space. Hotels pay close attention to how their lobbies look because that’s where the magic starts.

Co-Work & Co-Play

Co-working spaces such as WeWork are innovative and lax because not only do people get to work in a cozy space, but they also meet others in different professions. These spaces give us opportunities that are both professional and personal. People can network and create meaningful comradeship simultaneously. Employees often feel tired, bored, and low-key depressed when they’re only surrounded by walls. There is a correlation between a well-curated work experience and quality work.

Spacious, a co-working startup, takes on an even more non-traditional concept. It operates at local restaurants instead of office spaces.  Via Spacious, entrepreneurs can escape the formal cubicle life by working remotely in under-utilized restaurant spaces. On the other hand, restaurant owners benefit due to foot traffic.

Rezzie with the Touch of Hospitality

Residential spaces also joined the bandwagon of embedding human connection. For instance, Society, a co-living residential space, acts as a community that offers a food market, barbershop, lounges, and dog walking to encourage interaction. This space also features a roof garden that can serve as a work space. The SocietyApp makes securing a place easy, and it works as a social media platform too. The point of Society is to have people engage and create meaningful relationships…outside of their iPhones.

WeLive, an extended-stay birthed by WeWork, focuses on connections and friendships through communal spaces. One can stay for a mere couple nights or for several months. Through the WeLive app, guests can receive notifications about community events where they can hang and make friends. There are also several common areas where people can work, do yoga, or just relax.

ROOST, an apartment hotel in downtown Philadelphia, offers weekly and monthly accommodations. The rooms resemble cozy apartments with non-traditional amenities such as grocery delivery, AppleTV, and cocktail kits.

Like Bashar Wali, CEO of Provenance Hotels, once said: “humanity matters more than buildings.” How can we live fulfilling lives without social interaction? We’d be unhappy, ignorant, and flat out dull. Because people need genuine human interaction for emotional, physical, and social support, Hospitality is influencing many other CRE sectors today.

At the Independent Lodging Congress this October, Gerard Greene of Society, along with Edwin Hendriksen of WeLive, will hold an invigorating panel on co-living spaces and other spheres of hospitality that have shaped community spaces. Engage and connect with us then at the William Vale Hotel in Brooklyn!