NeuSpace is a new offering for hotel owners and investors, offering a socially responsible solution for the survival of empty property buildings. Here, Co-Founder Anne Schaeflein tells us more about the new company
Tell us a bit more about NeuSpace; how did the idea come about and how has the pandemic contributed to this?
NeuSpace is a collaboration between three women entrepreneurs. Margarita Kaske, Barbara Lindermann and Anne Schaeflein have many years’ experience working in hospitality (architecture, real estate and operational projects) and could not sit idle watching this beautiful industry derail due to Covid-19.
We set the goal of enabling hotels to adopt a new perspective through a modern and socially responsible concept, which was formed around three key pillars – namely, value preservation, new housing spaces and innovative housing concepts.
In detail, underperforming or closed hotels would benefit from a change in purpose – for a period of time until market demand is back. Utilising the ordinary lifespan of hotel interiors (10-15 years), it was key to conceptualise adoptable living spaces, which can easily be reversed.
With a larger portion of hotel properties suffering a drop in occupancy, the question from investors or owners was often raised – what else could bring a great ROI?
To find a solution which could deliver the retention of services from the operator (in parts), the positive impact a property has on the wider community, as well as increasing ROI, was part of the core think tank around NeuSpace, in light of Covid-19.
The art of urbanisation is the key ingredient to make it attractive to live in cities, sustainably.
What makes this an important offering for the GCC market, and specifically the UAE?
We go with available stats, such as those provided through STR and hospitality.net, which foresee a delay in construction due to Covid-19 and only 25% of the new hotel inventory coming to the GCC market until 2023.
Pandemic aside, the economic slowdown and with the shrinkage of tourism to the GCC, NeuSpace is not only relevant, but we feel very timely. Average occupancy has been back to 65% for December in Dubai, which is encouraging, but the ADR is not holding up.
It seems, domestic tourism will be the main driver over the next coming years. For hotel properties, in particular in the completion phase, we feel that it’s best to evaluate the perspective, and diversify. Dubai saw a 500% influx in demand for villas and townhouses in 2020, which makes NeuSpace even more relevant.
The law changes of unmarried couples being able to legally live together, and attracting expat entrepreneurs with offering full ownership of their business, will only increase the demand for living spaces.
We see NeuSpace as a vital ingredient to aid revival of the tourism, since it’s not good for any industry to have too much competition on the market. Diluting occupancy and room rates are just one effect, job uncertainty another. By actively seeking to diversify as part of a sustainable urban strategy, NeuSpace is also highly individualised.
We’re adopting the view, that especially with global workers and teams coming together, aid has to be given for extending communities, and to encourage them to form organically.
Is there a better possibility to actively increase the availability of quality and centric housing with commodities such as roof gardens for organic produce in-house, or nurseries and residential amenities such as a pool or spa?
What are some of the most important projects you have worked on so far?
NeuSpace was formed collaboratively between BoldBrain, Octo and QANNIK, the latter being one of the three independent businesses which already looks after GCC clients.
However, we can only tease you, since we’re working alongside our clients, but it’s not our secret to tell…yet. QANNIK is collaborating with new innovative hospitality brands in the GCC, one being with a clear focus on the active, eco and technology-driven consumer, whereby we aid to define the guest journey and the overall service delivery (out with the ordinary so called ‘hotel-experience’). They are looking to launch later this year.
Another client seeks to build a new affordable brand, which looks to the roots and encompasses a homey feeling in a modern translation. Quite different, and not yet seen.
Both brands are exiting, exhilarating and so diverse – it’s great fun to be part of their individualised journeys – and exactly what QANNIK specialises in – unique projects.
What are your future plans and how much of a role does sustainability play in your company?
We’d like to see our concept in 5% of the currently dormant or underperforming hotels applied – spread across the region.
NeuSpace sees itself as a catalyst for others to take inspiration from and with that to inject a sense of urgency to start a movement of the art of urbanisation – something which each and every one is concerned with – in one way or another.
When making the NeuSpace concept fully reversable, the co-founders feel like it leaves a sustainable option – for change of use – back to a hotel when the time is right, and the market demands an increase in beds with increased tourism.