While co-living has been around for a long time under different names, it is emerging into a popular business trend and evolving through included amenities and features. In a webinar, Hmlet Director of Revenue Nicolas Westen and Hmlet Cantonment Guest Services Manager Christopher Tsoi discussed the growth of co-living and how Hmlet is moving forward in the industry.

What Is Co-Living?

The concept of Co-living first emerged in Denmark in the 1970s and was originally under the name of co-housing. The initiative of this perfect neighborhood was to put 35 families together, interacting and sharing their social circles, common spaces, and personal philosophies. The birth of this concept effectively achieved, or in other words, maximized the sustainability and a great sense of community and collaboration of a neighborhood and refreshed people's mindset. Ever since then, the co-living concept has grabbed people's attention, and the interest in co-living has steadily spiked in the last few years.

In 2020, co-living is becoming one of the trendiest decisions of living worldwide. With the emptiness and loneliness come along with the solitary lifestyle, many people want to rebuild the relationship between each other under real-life context, and Co-living is the one who puts heavy emphasis on re-creating community support, group activities, and a sense of belonging. As globalization will take the young workforce to new places, Co-living will help them deal with unfamiliarity and emotional toll effectively and dynamically.

Co-living is simply a term for people living together in a shared space. There are different types of co-living spaces. Some are shared homes that put residents together as much as possible, while others provide private spaces with common living areas for residents to get together when they choose. Co-living may provide temporary housing or be more long-term.

Some co-living spaces include maid service, internet and other amenities. Some have a focus that brings people together around their common interests, such as a community garden or an art workshop. Nonetheless, some co-living spaces bring together different types of people, giving residents a break from their careers.

Co-living has long been around through roommates, communes and other forms of communal living. Yet it has recently become a popular trend because startups and hotel groups have jumped on the opportunity, rebranding the idea of people living together with this new term and adding amenities that make the housing option more desirable. Also, the millennial generation has shown interest in this living style, and modern societal conditions have encouraged it.

Some of the many reasons people choose to co-live include:

  • Large numbers of millennials have moved to urban areas with limited and expensive housing options, and co-living spaces have provided a solution.
  • Startups have been promoting and encouraging this type of housing arrangement with excellent service and amenities.
  • Changes in the housing market over time have shown that housing is not always stable and secure, which has shifted perspectives on homeownership.
  • People often choose it when they can't afford a place on their own, or they want nicer living than they would get on their own.
  • It provides a flexible, convenient and easy way of living.
  • It gives access to a community of people with shared interests.
  • It often appeals to certain groups of people, including entrepreneurs building a business together, people who are new to an area, those wanting a better social life, those seeking communal and simple living, and those waiting to settle into homeownership or a certain area.

Operating a Co-living Business

While people can create co-living situations on their own, businesses that facilitate the relationship provide some benefits. The main one is that they remove the burdens of doing it on your own, such as negotiating your own contract, furnishing the place and setting up utilities, Wi-Fi and other services. Co-living businesses take care of all of these factors and make it easy to move right in.

Some key factors determine why a property attracts a certain audience. It often comes down to the location of the property. For example, the property may provide a living option in a packed urban area or put someone close to a university or job. Yet co-living can give access to more than the place, also providing knowledge, a network and a like-minded community focus.

Running a co-living business is similar to a hotel business in some ways, such as providing great service. But there are key differences on the business end. Staff get to know people better with co-living due to longer stays and return visits. Co-living businesses allow for more flexibility and creativity, and changes or ideas can be implemented faster and easier. Staff can be true to themselves and show their personalities more, which creates more genuine relationships. Another example of a distinction is that Hmlet digitizes the handling of issues, so guests put in a ticket on an app rather than calling the front desk as they would in a hotel.

Preparing and Reacting to Challenges in Co-Living

Hmlet and co-living have been impacted by Covid-19 just as other industries have been. The crisis particularly affected certain locations as they quickly went from a boom due to Chinese New Year to struggling for occupancy. They adapted to the situation by opening their properties to stay-at-home notice guests.

They learned that going forward, Hmlet can be a platform to serve people during difficult periods. They recognized that life will not go back to how it was before and that it's important to adapt. For example, co-living can adapt through remote viewing and being aware of how people's behaviors are changing. Hmlet recognizes that making the guest the focus and revolving everything around them is key to staying relevant even if preferences and social conditions change.

What Is the Future of Co-Living?

Co-living will continue to change and evolve. Cultural shifts may make it more common and popular, and Hmlet sees the hospitality industry going in this direction.

Hmlet's plans for moving forward include focusing on matching the right location with the right building and the right product to the right customer. They want to:

  • be more selective with locations
  • diversify their products and price points, including catering to both shorter and longer stays
  • add new services and evolve with a focus on making people's lives easy and convenient
  • Hmlet plans to move forward with their model. Now that they have proven themselves, they want to grow through joint ventures, management contracts and other opportunities.

About Nicolas Westen | Director of Revenue, Hmlet | EHL Class of 2001

Nicolas Westen is multi-lingual and can speak four languages. After graduating from EHL, he worked for Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts for more than 11 years. He then moved to Bulgari Hotels and Residences as Director of Sales and Marketing. Before joining Hmlet in 2019, he was the GM of Today For Tomorrow, a real-estate company in Belgium.

About Christopher Tsoi | Guest Services Manager, Hmlet | EHL Class of 2010

Christopher Tsoi is a multi-lingual hotelier with cross cultural exposure living and working in Hong Kong, Lausanne, London, Beijing, Vancouver, and Singapore. He is passionate about Sales and Guest Relations. Previously Christopher has worked for Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts for more than seven years. He was the Guest Experience Manager at the Four Seasons Singapore before joining the Hmlet last Autumn.

About Hmlet

Hmlet, as one of the representatives of Co-living companies in Singapore, was founded in 2016 by Yoan Kamalski and Zenos Schmickrath. It provides its members with a living experience paired with a curated community of like-minded individuals. The flexible lease options, fully furnished spaces, and on-demand services enable Hmlet to comfort its properties into dynamic environments. All the members of Hmlet have freedom and flexibility with their livings, including month-to-month flexible leases and opportunities to move into any of Hmlet's other co-living properties in any other city or area whenever they need.

After knowing the concept of co-living, you may raise some questions: Why should I choose co-living rather than renting an apartment when I move to a new city? Should I choose co-living even when living in my own country? How is co-living evolving? Join us for a discussion on co-living with Hmlet, Asia-Pacific's fastest-growing co-living company!

About EHL Group

EHL Group is the global reference in education, innovation and consulting for the hospitality and service sector.
With expertise dating back to 1893, EHL Group now offers a wide range of leading educational programs from apprenticeships to master's degrees, as well as professional and executive education, on three campuses in Switzerland and Singapore. EHL Group also offers consulting and certification services to companies and learning centers around the world. True to its values and committed to building a sustainable world, EHL Group's purpose is to provide education, services and working environments that are people-centered and open to the world. www.ehlgroup.com

EHL Hospitality Business School
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