There I was, done with all the classes at Hotelschool The Hague and ready for my final internship. But… I realised I didn’t want to do my final internship in a hotel. I wanted to know what else was out there and how hospitality can be applied in different sectors. Anywhere that I have an interaction with a company/business, I think I would like to see some elements of hospitality, whether that be at the supermarket, the hairdresser, on the phone with a customer service agent or at the gym. Because let’s be honest, hospitality is very broad and is definitely not just meant for hotels and F&B facilities, right? Yes the customer is king, but hotels and restaurants aren’t the only places with guests, right? And surely these other industries also want to keep their guests happy?
Doors Open Female Hub
Well… Let me tell you a bit about where I did my final internship and our vision on hospitality. I did my internship at Doors Open Female Hub, a coworking co-learning workspace for female entrepreneurs and professionals in and around The Hague. And what makes it so incredibly fun is that there are people with all types of professions who are at different stages in setting up their own business. We have lawyers, coaches, event planners, online marketeers, LinkedIn trainers, jewellery designers, health advisors, virtual assistants, writers and illustrators!
Suzanne Mau-Asam (Hotelschool The Hague alumni), owner and founder of Doors Open Female Hub, comes from a learning and development background and created this concept to provide women with an inspiring and motivating location in which they could learn from and with each other.
Suzanne worked for several large companies such as Shell, Staats Lotterij and Nationale Nederlanden but realised she wanted to take that step and become fully independent. From 2008 onwards, she already had her coaching and training business that she did on the side but last year was the moment to take it up a step and become a full blown independent entrepreneur!
She initially worked on her coaching and training business from home but soon realised she missed her colleagues. She started visiting the already existing coworking spaces but it just didn’t feel right. It was too distant, not social, you didn’t interact and learn from one another and it was not focussed on helping each other elevate to the next level! So she took matters into her own hands and came up with Doors Open Female Hub… whilst lying on the beach in Mauritius, mind you! She then posted a very simple message on LinkedIn that she was looking for female entrepreneurs in The Hague to have a coffee with to brainstorm about her idea. She met up with at least 50 ladies and consolidated her concept!
If that’s all still not impressive enough, Suzanne got the keys to the location on Javastraat 281 on December 1st. As ambitious as she is, she had already planned trial days starting on the 14th of December. Now that usually wouldn’t be a problem if the place had already been done… But it was completely stripped, there was nothing there. Walls had to be pained, furniture had to be bought, assembled and placed, meeting rooms had to be built (yes… built), accessories had to be found and bought, new light fixtures had to be placed for 30 lights, the restroom had to be painted… and repainted again because a pink restroom was not quite what we were going for! All of this in cold, rainy and snowy December! But… She managed! And did so well because the trial days were such a success and many of those lovely ladies are still our renters today!
Yes, FEMALE Hub
And for those of you who straightaway went “Shock, horror, female only, how discriminatory, how would they feel if men did that!” let me explain it very briefly. Suzanne did a lot of research on how men and women learn. Male and female entrepreneurs actually run into very similar problems, however, they deal with it in very different ways. And that is why having a female focussed workspace allows women to help each other in a way that best suits them. They are able to chat over a coffee if they like, they can brainstorm on the comfortable sofa corner, they can discuss ideas in the garden, they can hang up inspirational quotes, event flyers or questions on our inspirational wall, they have an online community in which they can ask questions or post about interesting topics, they can join the monthly masterclasses for free and finally they can take part in breakfast brainstorm sessions (with delicious food from HAP Meals – delicious, beautiful, healthy food!).
And one more reason why Suzanne chose to focus on women… we all learnt we need to have a specific target market for our business plan. Well there you go, what better target market than a market that you know very well yourself?
Now that that’s out of the way, let me get back to the hospitality element. Initially people could not see the direct link from a coworking space to the hospitality industry. But in fact, we are constantly providing our “guests” (we call them Hubbers) with a hospitality service and hoping to provide them with an experience that keeps them coming back! But how? Well, for starters our coffee is amazing! Ok, just kidding. Our coffee really is amazing but of course that’s not the only part of providing hospitality to our Hubbers.
Suzanne has done a fantastic job at giving the Female Hub a comfortable, cozy, and inspiring look and feel to it. Pastel colours, long wooden tables and accessories, lots of natural daylight, inspiring quotes, a relaxing sofa and plants! When you step into a dark, cold, plain hotel room/restaurant/cafe that already takes away part of your hospitality experience. Same goes for the Female Hub. We get a lot of compliments about how nice and homey the space feels and how comfortable people feel working here and how productive they are.
We often organise events. Ok, this is cheating a bit because under the common category “hospitality” we often think of hotels, F&B facilities and events. Nevertheless, we’re quite proud of the events we’ve hosted, if we may say so ourselves. Networking drinks, opening events, breakfast breakout sessions and this summer we have our Summer School coming up which is bound to be a success as well. In the 6 months that we’ve been open we’ve done them all and they’ve all been a huge success! Our first ever networking event was completely sold out, we’ve been in several newspapers, people walk in to ask about the Female Hub on a daily basis, the feedback we got for our first breakfast breakout session was absolutely incredible (They even suggested that we should actually charge them for it! That’s how much value they got out of it.), the list goes on.
Lastly, when people pass by and walk in to see what the Female Hub is, that is our moment to shine and to convince them they want to come and work here! That screams hospitality. Welcoming, comfortable, trusting, warm, happy, inspiring… THAT is what we portray in those few moments they walk in because that is what you get if you come and work at Doors Open Female Hub. And to do that well… having a fantastic location and great products/services to offer is of course key, but you also need to have that hospitality flair. Something I’ve learnt we really have and take with us from Hotelschool. No matter what industry we go into, people notice it!
What other non-traditional hospitality industry sector/companies do you feel definitely have crucial hospitality elements and why are they important for that particular sector/company?
Photo credits: Daisy von Dutch.