Working from home has its challenges – poor internet, noise, lack of motivation, to name a few – but for when you really need to knuckle down, one Inner South hotel is offering a solution with home office rooms for hire.
Hotel Realm in Barton doesn’t usually offer day use rooms; but with the accommodation sector facing a dramatic drop in visitor numbers, the hotel has adapted their offering to the current climate.
Director of Hotels for Doma Hotels, Patrick Lonergan, said it is a service that people would not use all the time, but could be an investment once a week, fortnight, or month for some respite or a change of scene from working from home.
In addition to their home office offering, Doma Hotels is selling grocery boxes featuring fresh produce or essentials, while Ostani, their in-house restaurant, is offering takeaway meals.
“Through these initiatives, we are about keeping as many people as we can on the books and employed,” Mr Lonergan said. “We are trying to do everything we can do to keep ourselves active.”
However, the sector faces a tough challenge following a summer of bushfires, smoke haze and now COVID-19.
Australian Hotels Association (AHA) ACT Branch general manager, Anthony Brierley, said there was a significant drop in leisure and conference visitation in January and while there was a rebound in late February, before coronavirus hit, the current situation is “pretty dire”.
“It depends on the unknown – for how long this goes on for,” he said. “If you want venues to be there on the other side we need people to support them as much as they can now.”
While hospitality has adapted by pivoting their business to a takeaway or delivery model, Mr Brierley acknowledged it is not as simple for accommodation providers.
“If you are in accommodation there is not a lot you can do to trade differently during this time,” he said. “Hotel Realm has made their rooms available as office suites, others are catering for self-isolating guests … but there is no replacement for real visitors.”
Overall, Mr Brierley said the sector will likely see some closures. In the interim, the AHA is encouraging their members to put themselves in a position to be able to scale up once some normality returns. This includes accessing the Federal Government’s JobKeeper payment.
While the sector has faced a tough 2020 to date, it is not expected to get any easier, especially with the ACT Government making the decision to cancel Floriade for this year.
Mr Brierley said the decision is “one that we can all wholeheartedly understand … the ACT Government has been really proactive and responsive to this so far”; however, he said, on the other side, the government will need to increase tourism marketing and consider what other events can be held to bring people back.