How do you use space you don’t know is there? How do you monetise assets you don’t know you have? No, they’re not riddles, but the core tenets of Space-as-a-Service when applied to serviced apartment and co-living companies. With Covid forcing ‘Innovative Living’ operators to think outside the box, now is the time to transform unused spaces into profit-making assets using tech.
What is Space-as-a-Service?
The Space-as-a-Service (SPaaS) concept is about accessibility over ownership. It’s about charging customers to use existing space on-demand. It’s about using what you have to suit varying customer needs.
Best known as a coworking innovation in the UK - think ground floor cafés, break out rooms, lounge areas, office blocks with table tennis, spa treatments and gym classes - the SPaaS mentality is equally applicable to the innovative living industry. Harnessing tech advancements, operators can now convert underutilised areas into new business opportunities and boost revenue-generating capacity in off-peak periods.
Design with space in mind
Whether repurposing the interior of an existing building or designing a new apartment block, operators should think of space as a commodity; a raw material that can be bought and leased to generate revenue. As such, the lobby could include a pop-up exhibition space. The ground floor could host cafés, restaurants and recreational space. Classes, barbecues and social gatherings could take place on the roof or other communal space. A cinema room could host weekly screenings for guests and the public.
From the basement to the rooftop, using areas in innovative ways aligns the purpose of the building as a go-to hub for in-demand services, which in turn brings in extra revenue directly - leasing floor space to food vendors, taking a percentage of yoga class revenue - and indirectly by soft-selling the apartments’ benefits to the general public that use the building. Bringing the public into the community of the building enhances the likelihood of them becoming residents and spreading the word.
In addition, providing a range of useful features enhances your brand and also fosters an in-building community that encourages residents to stay longer. At a time when people might want to venture out less, having entertainment, shopping and a gym on your doorstep is an attractive proposition.
The remote office
Covid is casting doubt on the future of the office. Social distancing is incompatible with the traditional office environment (especially those with elevators and the need for mass vertical transit). Only 13% of employees want to return to a full-time office culture. 65% of businesses are planning to downsize or change their office space.
Operators could therefore use extra spaces as remote offices. With amenities such as desks, chairs, fast-wifi, printers and a kettle (coffee shops and dining options in the building too), as well as areas to host face-to-face meetings, these ‘remote offices’ could provide an alternative work space to small businesses and apartment guests that prefer working outside their living space. What’s more, enabling residents to ‘commute’ downstairs allows them to leave the office at the end of the day both physically and mentally.
From entrepreneurs attending meetings to tourists visiting the sights, most people would avoid lugging bulky suitcases or shopping bags across town if possible. Given many serviced apartment and co-living blocks are situated in prime urban locations, such as near a train station or in a city centre, luggage storage is a simple SPaaS solution. On-site staff can log and store luggage in unused spaces, such as store rooms, bringing in additional revenue and encouraging more people to visit the building and use its services. Operators can even register with tech solutions like Stasher to advertise their luggage-drop service.
How to implement SPaaS?
Depending on size, location and space configuration, operators can easily reap SPaaS benefits if they follow these four guidelines:
- Analyse your characteristics. Where you are located, what space do you have, what services could you provide?
- Consider your clientele. Think about spatial solutions that chime with guests’ and local demographics’ needs and wants.
- Be flexible. No space has just one purpose and you need to be willing and able to adjust to new eventualities, preferences and opportunities.
- Embrace tech. From repurposing unoccupied spaces at the touch of a button to remote management of events, SPaaS benefits are only possible by using a tech platform.
The future of space
In the short to medium-term, SPaaS enables innovative living companies to attract more revenue with minimal effort. In the long-term, it prepares operators for ever-changing tastes and preferences. No-one knows what software will be available in 2030 or what services will be in demand, but having multi-purpose spaces will allow operators to take advantage of future realities.