Have you heard of a capsule hotel? Well, it’s a kind of hotel that is characterized by many very small rooms that exists to provide cheap, overnight accommodation. It’s nothing new really as the first of such hotels was opened in 1979 in Osaka, Japan which was called the Capsule Inn Osaka designed by Kisho Kurokawa.
Nonetheless, this type of hotel never really took off outside Japan. Why? The guest space only measures 2m by 1m by 1.25m, providing room to sleep and facilities which basically includes a TV and a wireless internet connection.
Just a year ago, however, plans to bring in the capsule hotel to Hong Kong was mulled. And through Eric Wong, Managing Director of Galaxy Stars Ltd., they hope to partner with hoteliers and ultimately take the concept to mainland China and Southeast Asia.
Yes, this is specially good for congested areas where accommodation is expensive, a relief particularly for students and overnight travellers. This is why it flourished in Japan and possibly in places like Hong Kong as well.
But as we can see, price is its selling point while privacy and comfort more than style are its “turn off” factors. A curtain or a fiberglass door is not enough for privacy – not unless your capsule is “sound proof”. More so, comfort is not only about being able to stretch your legs unless you are on a plane. Comfort, for one, is about being able to stand and walk around a bit in your private space. It’s about having your private bath as well as having room for another if you are with a companion.
That is where the “pod hotels” of the West has an advantage.
Tourists, students, or anyone for that matter have their own preferences; and capsules are certainly revolutionary but not unless you travel alone or with male friends just seeking adventure then the capsule is not for you.
In this case, location is specially pivotal for capsules. Since it would appeal to last minute accommodations or overnight travellers – position these hotels near “commuting areas” like terminals not just tourist destinations. However, it’d be good to remember that capsules may not be flexible enough to stand on highways in between states unless it is a heavily travelled route.
As for amenities, think about this – is the pod stay for business or pleasure? By all accounts, most tourists are in your area for the experience. Hence, for a greater market share, don’t just have pools and Wi-Fi but make it different – like, offer your guests free “street food” or some delicacy (instead of free breakfast which is common in conventional hotels) from your restaurant every 9 p.m..
In the end, curiosity is what would drive the main waves of occupancy, thus it’d be better for your pod or capsule if you could make the experience a pleasant and memorable one.
What’s your take?