US-based online marketplace Restspace aims to pioneer on-demand bookings for spaces, beginning with bathrooms, which customers can book via the platform in 15-minute increments.

This on-demand model represents a complete break from individual rooms on a fixed schedule – a system that has long remained at the core of hotel operations and revenue.

Nancy Asare, Restspace’s CEO, believes that as the expectations of travellers evolve and new guest segments appear, the traditional model of rigid bookings and check-in and check-out times means hotels are missing out on the profits from flexible guest access.

The concept of flexible, time-based usage is transferable to a hotel room. In Restspace’s vision, guests could book a room for a few hours without adhering to standard check-in and check-out times.

Speaking to Hotel Management Network, Asare expands on her vision of “accessible space utilisation for everyone” and the ample benefits waiting for hoteliers.

Out with the old, in with the new

Modern travellers are increasingly demanding flexibility from their accommodation providers. This is one of the reasons behind the fierce competition that vacation rental company Airbnb has posed to the hotel industry.

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This expectation has spread with the global rise of remote workers, a guest segment looking for flexible spaces that hotels could attract if traditional booking models were reconsidered.

Hilton recently announced a partnership with ResortPass to provide visitors with day-pass packages for hotel facilities and amenities, signalling an openness in the industry to short-term bookings.

Asare explains that Restspace’s on-demand, location-based and per-minute pricing model has enabled them to charge $1,440 per day for access to a bathroom.

“This isn’t even for the level of space and amenities that many hotels offer; it’s just to use a bathroom. The price people are willing to pay per minute is much higher than hoteliers might think.”

Flexibility also boosts guest loyalty. Rather than waiting around for hours before being able to access a room due to traditional check-in times, or paying for a full night when they only need a room for a few hours, guests take control of their stay. This inevitably leads to a more convenient experience and positive reviews.

Behind the scenes, time-based bookings also mean that rooms aren’t left unoccupied and unproductive for significant portions of the day.

“Maximising space ultimately increases revenue for hotels. The hourly rate we are achieving indicates that even short-term bookings can generate substantial income, potentially exceeding the traditional nightly rates of many hotels,” asserts Asare.

Balancing guest safety with flexibility

With the increased revenue that flexible bookings can bring comes a requirement for stringent monitoring and effective organisation as people come and go.

Asare emphasises that Restspace has implemented “stringent verification processes for both hosts and guests to ensure a trustworthy and safe environment.”

The platform uses technology to verify identities and monitor bookings, alongside 24/7 customer support to address any issues that may arise.

Guests can also read detailed information and reviews for each space to make informed decisions when booking.

The complexity of hotel operations would likely intensify with the provision of short-term access to spaces outside of individual rooms such as gyms, or amenities such as swimming pools.

However, advanced hotel management technology is beginning to cover communal areas as well as rooms. With the right investments, hoteliers can effectively manage additional revenue streams with security front of mind.

Expansion into hotels

Asare emphasises that Restspace’s goal isn’t to disrupt or compete directly with the hotel industry.

“We want to collaborate and innovate. Forward-thinking hotel operators will see the value in listing their spaces on our platform.”

According to Asare, the company is already seeing a positive response from early adopters.

“Once hoteliers experience the benefits of our model, we believe they will recognise that the old way of booking and reserving spaces is becoming outdated.”

Empty space could soon become a thing of the past for hoteliers that can look beyond conventional room bookings and realise the lucrative potential of accommodation as an accessible public service.