Ask me to describe the typical business traveler and I think of a man in a suit sitting alone at the bar; Contemplating his mid-life crisis over a glass of whiskey à la Bill Murray in Lost in Translation. The business man’s whiskey isn’t the only thing “on the rocks” anymore, as this travelling figure has seen a lot of changes over the last few years!
Meet the global nomad: “Travelling on average 11.4 times a year, for roughly 8.9 days per trip, making a total average of 69 days per year. Aged 25-40. They travel light, see fast Wi-Fi as their life-blood and are always with their iPhone in their hand.” Or so says Zoku. And after spending 5 years conducting over 150 interviews with this demographic, we trust that they know what they’re talking about. They too are well familiar with the mildly-depressing and shallowing lifestyle created by hotel living. While the industry has seen a lot of changes over the last few years, especially with competition from Airbnb, there is still quite a difference when it comes to staying in these styles of accommodation.
A Whole New Way of Living
Looking to provide an alternative way of living for travelling professionals, Zoku seeks to be a home-away-from-home for global nomads travelling anywhere from 5 days to 3 months. Zoku lofts are efficiently designed to be comfortable for both work and play. Taking the best parts of a hotel room and scratching the rest, every detail of the 24m2 rooms was clearly taken into consideration to maximize space and versatility. While hotel beds tend to dominate the entire room, here, king-sized mattress are tucked away into an elevated sleeping space. Zoku has even designed a stairwell which can hide in the wall; instantly transitioning the space into the perfect background for a trans-Atlantic Skype call or hosting some friends over for a glass of wine.
Goodbye Lobby, Hello Living Room
Although the lofts provide everything imaginable for you to get comfortable, life at Zoku is meant to extend well beyond your bedroom corridors. “Humming with shoptalk, small talk, and deep thoughts”, Zoku’s 500m2 of open-plan space is set up to encourage sociability and interaction between guests. With views of the city that stand as a conversation starter on their own. The floor plan offers a kitchen, a bar, a rooftop garden, and communal work spaces, just to name a few of the plentiful environments Zoku has accounted for. “People pay specifically because of the opportunities brought about by the other people who stay here,” says Community Manager Veerle Donders. “We want to make use of the talent in our guests and broaden the horizons and connections between them.”
As Community Manager, Veerle’s primary role is to organize programs and events within Zoku that easily connect people such as board game nights and pub quizzes. Ideally though, her role takes much more of a background seat, acting rather as a community curator, letting interaction between visitors happen more naturally.
Walking around their newly-opened Amsterdam location, it becomes clear that Veerle is not the only pseudo-staff member around. In fact, it took us a moment to try to figure out who the employees were in the first place. Zoku has chosen to eliminate formal hotel features such as a reception desk, wanting to remove any barriers between staff (better known as “sidekicks”) and guests. There’s no space off limits for people staying there, and rather than instilling certain flows and procedures, Zoku is designed to feel fully natural and at home. Guests are even encouraged to get behind the bar and make their own drink, or hang out behind the kitchen with their chef- specifically hired for his sociability.
While the platform is breaking all of the rules standard for the hotel industry, Zoku is paving the way for a whole new category within. The home-office hybrid maximizes all of the benefits of a bustling neighborhood, and seeks to connect people to each other, and to the city with ease. Aligning international residents not only to each other, but to internationally-minded locals, Zoku may just be the coziest living room in the city!