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Richmond hotel pivots to office spaces to cut losses

Hotels become more than a place to sleep amid the pandemic

The hospitality industry has been turned upside down in the age of COVID-19, but a hotel in Richmond is trying to embrace the new normal by pivoting their business models.

To accommodate the new wave of mobile workers, Richmond-based Accent Inns Vancouver Airport is offering blocks of rooms as office space in Richmond and Burnaby. 

Guests and non-guests can now book a standard-room for $60 per day from 5 a.m. until 7 p.m., which is more affordable than spending $105 per night as usual. 

“We came up with the idea way back when the pandemic just hit. We had to get creative quickly,” said Trina Notman, vice president of marketing and communications for Accent Inns. “But because we were able to get creative in different ways, we have been successful in keeping our doors open and most of our staff employed.”

The latest data from Statistics Canada show that teleworking and working remotely have become more prevalent since the beginning of the crisis. Nearly one-third (32.6 per cent) of businesses reported 10 per cent or more of their workforce was teleworking or working remotely on May 29, 2020, which was almost twice the level reported just three months earlier on Feb. 1, 2020. 

The report also suggests that once the COVID-19 is over, close to one-quarter (22.5 per cent) of businesses expect that 10 per cent or more of their workforce will continue to telework or work remotely.

While working remotely works for some, it doesn’t for all. Some parents, for example, struggle to concentrate at home with children running around or demanding attention.

Working in an alternative space during the day could help, according to Notman. 

Along with a desk, WiFi and plug-ins, Accent Inns provides coffee and tea and a comfy bed for daytime naps, said Notman, adding that “we won’t tell.” 

“All rooms are sanitized and sprayed with electrostatic sprayers, a cleaning technology that can completely disinfect their rooms in seconds. And nobody can enter your space while you’ve rented it.”

Travel safety stamps to lure back customers
Meanwhile, Tourism of Richmond, the local not-for-profit organization promoting Richmond as a destination for travellers, has been collaborating with hotels to roll out innovative packages to lure back visitors. 

Nancy Small, CEO of Tourism Richmond, said they had launched a campaign to give Amex cards to people who choose to stay in a local hotel room. This strategy has helped boost the business substantially. 

“People are looking for deals and looking for reasons to come to the city,” said Small. 

Hotels have also changed how they operate by implementing enhanced cleaning protocols, taking people’s temperatures and allowing for less capacity. 

To reassure visitors that Richmond Hotels are safe, Small and her team applied for the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) safe travel stamp on behalf of the city. 

The safe travel stamp can reassure visitors that local destinations and authorities have implemented health protocols aligned with WTTC’s safe travel protocols. 

“When those markets open up, who knows when that is going to be, but we will be ready for them, and I have no doubt that our hotels will be ready,” said Small.