Whether or not you’ve been enjoying our coworking-obsessed/travel adjacent content on BoardingArea, you’re probably hearing A LOT about COWORKING. Well, it’s only just begun. Credit it to WeWork’s $42 BILLION valuation. Or to recent changes to accounting practices leading companies to ditch long term leases to save their balance sheets. Or, simply the fact that it’s truly the future of how people will work.

Coworking Spaces In Airports…It Was Just A Matter Of Time

Just the other day I wrote about Office Depot’s new coworking spaces, as part of their Workonomy business services brand. In the last year alone (with particular focus on the travel industry) we’ve seen:

AccorHotels announce their plan to put coworking in 1,200 properties throughout Europe.

Next Door, rebranded as WOJO is AccorHotel’s new coworking brand.

Swirling rumors all but confirming that Sheraton’s new re-branding includes integrating coworking into their lobbies.

Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport opening a “pop-up” coworking space as part of a VERIDESK marketing activation.

VERIDESK coworking at DFW Airport

So, color me shocked when the South China Morning Post published an exclusive interview with Mr. Song Hoi-see, the founder of Plaza Premium Group…about what else? COWORKING.

Plaza Premium: The World’s First Independent Airport Lounge

This story starts out like so many other start-ups or disruptors do: by solving a problem. Following a career in investment banking, Mr. Hoi-see went out on his own. No longer on a cushy expense account, he quickly found himself flying economy class without access to the airport lounges he had previously enjoyed. Finding this new travel experience to be lacking and struggling to work effectively while on the go, he quickly identified a gap in the market.

Mr. Hoi-see prides himself on his intuition and vision that airport lounges need not be reserved for premium travelers alone. By opening a lounge for all travelers, regardless of airline or cabin, Plaza Premium Lounges are driven by a mission “to do something for the majority”. Opening his first two locations in 2008 in Hong Kong International Airport and Kuala Lumpur International Airport, led to fast successes. Twenty-one years later, Plaza Premium is the largest independent lounge operator in the world. With over 160 lounge locations in 42 airports, they serve over 14 million passengers annually.

Get Ready For The Airport “Disruption”

First it was taxi’s, then food service, then traditional office space. Now? It’s the airport’s turn time to face “disruption”. In the interview, Mr. Hoi-see gets straight to the point. In short, airports need coworking spaces and workspace amenities because the customers need it AND want it.

“The trouble with airports is they provide monotonous products…Everywhere you see McDonald’s, Kentucky [Fried Chicken], the same duty free. What is the difference from one airport to another…You tell me if there is an airport really taking care of millennials. Find them a place to congregate or gather, like a coworking space.”

Song Hoi=see, Founder of Plaza Premium Group

“I am a disrupter, disrupting the conventional way of providing services. You must provide personalized service and localization” says Mr. Hoi-see. He continues: “You tell me if there is an airport really taking care of millennials. Find them a place to congregate or gather, like a coworking space.”

Premium Plaza Founder and CEO, Song Hoi-see.
Photo Credit: May Tse/South China Morning Post

More Than Lounges & Shared Workspace

Mr. Hoi-see seems to be wasting no time at all. Plaza Premium Group has put forward a proposal to the operator of Hong Kong International Airport. These spaces would be completely different from traditional airport lounges. Because of that, Song admits there is a need for a different commercial model to be a viable business.

Plaza Premium Group’s expertise include services ranging from designing, operating and managing airport lounges, both independent and on behalf of airlines. Other concepts include transit hotels, relaxation suites, dining and conference centers. The company is working to determine how to introduce secure and dedicated shared workspace between 7,000 and 8,000 sq ft of space at HKIA.

It shouldn’t prove to be too hard as there’s consensus that the concept makes sense. Dane Moodie, director of advisory and transaction services for offices at CBRE Hong Kong offers his take: “The demand is definitely there for coworking space within airports and business travelers without access to lounges could utilize this service while waiting for the next flight.”

The post Plaza Premium Announces Plans for Airport Coworking Spaces was first published on Coworkaholic.

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