Lounge operator eyes shake-up of traditional airport facilities with introduction of collaborative workspaces for millennial travellers

Danny Lee
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Lounge operator eyes shake-up of traditional airport facilities with introduction of collaborative workspaces for millennial travellers

The Hong Kong company that has become the biggest independent lounge operator is exploring the possibility of opening collaborative workspaces in airport’s around the world.

The Plaza Premium Group (PPG) has put forward a proposal to the operator of Hong Kong International Airport, where it launched its first airport lounge in 1998, to open such a space.

Shared workspaces have yet to catch on at airports, although Dallas Fort-Worth opened one for the public last year.

“The trouble with airports is they provide monotonous products,” said Song Hoi-see, PPG’s founder and CEO. “Everywhere you see McDonald's, Kentucky [Fried Chicken], the same duty free. What is the difference from one airport to another.

“I am a disrupter, disrupting the conventional way of providing services. You must provide personalised service and localisation.”

The company is considering how to introduce secure and dedicated shared workspaces for travellers, with a focus on those who might not have the frequent flier status to access business lounges.

Co-working spaces have boomed in recent years as part of the shared economy model, and one such company, WeWork, is valued at US$47 billion.

The spaces would be radically different to traditional airport lounges, and Song hinted at the need for a different commercial model to make such a venture viable.

“You tell me if there is an airport really taking care of millennials. Find them a place to congregate or gather, like a co-working space,” Song said. He envisaged a lot of digital interactive offerings and healthy food, as an affordable paid-for option. PPG said it would need between 7,000 and 8,000 sq ft of space at HKIA.

“The demand is definitely there for co-working space within airports and business travellers without access to lounges could utilise this service while waiting for the next flight,” said Dane Moodie, director of advisory and transaction services for offices at CBRE Hong Kong.

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The commercial property expert said major business hubs such as Hong Kong would “most likely” drive such demand given the need and appetite for travellers working on the move.

“While co-working space in more established areas usually operate a minimum of 10,000-20,000 sq ft. we would envisage that the demand for this in an airport may not require this type of scale,” Moodie said.

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