At every end of the spectrum, office space has become more of a hospitality business than ever before. Recent and planned developments of high-end office buildings in Manhattan include amenities one might find in a five-star hotel: gyms, pools, spas and private dining facilities. The leasing presentation of a major Downtown Manhattan office development highlights its lobby cafe and SoulCycle-styled spin room.
On the other end of the spectrum, service providers like WeWork have turned the short-term office space business into one that offers more than just some desks and a phone. They deliver an experience akin to what boutique hoteliers purport to offer. Meanwhile, the actual hospitality business has become more intertwined with the office world. Much ink has spilt describing the lobby of Manhattan's Ace Hotel as the epicenter of the New York tech scene. As these worlds converge, there is a very logical next step that no one has yet taken--branded office space. Licensing and branding opportunities are created when someone realizes that accumulated brand equity be deployed for a different use. Often these opportunities are hidden in plain sight. For example, for the last sixty years everyone who has attended a concert of any kind has watched their favorite musicians perform in front of a stack of Marshall amps, an explicit endorsement of the product. But it was only a few years ago that someone had the brilliantly simple idea to sell Marshall headphones to consumers.
When someone finally brands office space, it will look just as obvious. What WeWork tenant wouldn't take a second look at the Virgin Office Suites? Couldn't a nearby office building share amenities and a brand with the Ace Hotel? Wouldn't a high-end hedge fund be intrigued by The Four Seasons Park Avenue Tower? In the next five years, someone at either the highest end or techiest end of the market will brand office space and an entire industry will collectively slap its forehead and say, "Why didn't I think of that?"
Will Silverman is a managing director at Savills Studley. He is based in New York.Bold Predictions: Branded Office Space?
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