When was the Hospitality project launched and with what ambition?

Fabien Violet – We have been working on the Hospitality project for about a year and a half. It is a kind of extension of Comet Meetings’ business. Originally, we offered a network of venues located in the city center, dedicated to strategic meetings and corporate events: seminars, training sessions, codir, for half a day or several days. We are extending this activity to services to companies in the offices themselves. So this is closer to real estate, by integrating Comet services within large office real estate assets.

You recently announced three sites. When will they be operational, and are there other projects underway?

Fabien Violet – The Landscape project is almost ready to be operational, Lumière will be operational by mid-2022, as will Axa Society. We also have about 30 discussions underway concerning other office buildings.

These are

existing buildings that are being completely reconfigured and in which Comet is bringing an additional layer of service that will completely transform the experience of the users of these offices.

Hospitality by CometThe Hospitality by Comet offering will be embodied through three office buildings in 2022: Landscape in La Défense, Lumière (Paris 12th) and Axa Society (Paris 9th)

In concrete terms, how is this layer of service embodied?

Fabien Violet – We offer three things. First of all, Comet Meetings, state-of-the-art meeting rooms, equipped and designed to host pleasant and productive meetings, and to encourage collective intelligence. This is our original activity. Our second proposal, Comet Workplaces, takes the form of flexible office spaces. This allows you to move in not with a traditional three-year minimum lease but for shorter periods, and then to quickly increase or decrease the number of workstations. And the third part of the Hospitality offering, Building Services, literally aims to bring these office buildings to life by providing services. This can be as simple as a reception desk, a concierge service, community management, snacking services, coffee, catering, sports, soft mobility, to accompany people who come by bike or scooter. This can be very varied, depending on the asset and the needs of the owner. In addition to these three offers, we propose a fourth service: an application called Cosmos, developed internally, which gives access to all Comet’s services such as booking a meeting room or a click & collect, a concierge

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How many Comet employees does this represent on site?

Fabien Violet – I would say from 5 to 15 or 20 people. But it all depends on the building and the range of services offered, according to the owner’s needs. The three sites that we have unveiled are very different in nature, and will therefore not offer exactly the same range of services.

t the same services.

What is fundamentally different from a “traditional” office?

Fabien Violet – We’re changing the way people use the office. Before, employees went to the office in a “mechanical” way, five days a week, out of obligation. Now things are organized very differently, with two or three days of telecommuting. You don’t come to the office to do the same thing anymore. There are certain activities that you can do much better at home. To put it in a nutshell, from home you can do production very well, to write emails or documents. For everything that concerns collaboration, collective intelligence, meetings, it’s more complex at a distance, especially for long formats or those involving many participants. And for the third aspect of work, socialization, it is almost impossible to create a link or a collective dynamic from a distance. We therefore believe that the office must be reorganized around collaboration and socialization. This is how we are reorganizing the services offered on the sites mentioned.

Are you betting that the need for office space will definitely be reduced?

Fabien Violet – Not mechanically. We are not yet in the “next world”. But we do think that the layout and use of square meters will change completely to orientate uses much more towards collaboration and socialization. This does not necessarily mean a reduction in the overall size of the office. Some companies, like Google recently, have made very strong choices in favor of the physical office and face-to-face work. However, teleworking has become very important in some sectors, the number of days involved has almost doubled since 2019. We think that this will remain partly in the next world and that we will organize ourselves differently. This also corresponds to an expectation of employees, and this is a driving force for our offer: a large majority of people appreciate teleworking. A majority of applicants now also choose their employer based on the flexibility they are given in terms of teleworking. These are aspects that will remain, and therefore force operators and owners to adapt their office offerings.

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Does a “Hospitality” office cost more than a traditional office, given that additional services are added?

Fabien Violet – Not necessarily. It’s a case-by-case negotiation between the owner and the user. From the owner’s point of view, it’s an asset to market his asset with a shorter timeframe or vacancy. It will also depend on the balance of power in the market. In 2020, there was half the demand for office space. We don’t know what the next world will be made of.

Are some Hospitality spaces added to the Comet Meetings catalog?

Fabien Violet – Absolutely. In some cases, it is shared. On the Lumière site, there will be a Comet Meetings space with 17 meeting rooms that will be accessible to the occupants but at thessi to outside companies. So this model also has the virtue of expanding our portfolio of sites.

Are your infrastructures equipped with technologies adapted to hybrid meetings?

Fabien Violet – We are gradually increasing the proportion of our facilities equipped with videoconferencing. We had a quarter before, and we’re gradually making progress. On the Lumière site, on the coworking floor, all the meeting rooms are equipped with videoconferencing to enable employees who are physically in the office to work with their colleagues remotely.

What is the roadmap for the Hospitality project?

Fabien Violet – Today, we have signed 400,000 square meters of office space. The goal is to reach one million square meters by the end of 2022. We have great ambitions, not only in France but also in other countries where we are already present, notably in Belgium and Spain. And I think we can export this model elsewhere.

Hasn’t telecommuting pushed you to diversify further, to launch in other French business cities than Paris?

Fabien Violet – Our network is international in scope, since we are present in Brussels and soon in Madrid. Our model is to be located in the city center, and we are studying other large cities in France.

Another new feature: Teamwork? What is it about?

Fabien Violet – It’s a proposal aimed at companies that have completely switched to teleworking, or that are in hybrid mode with a large proportion of teleworking, and that potentially no longer have enough office space to bring everyone together. We are targeting start-ups, small and medium-sized companies. We offer them, on a subscription basis, to meet and recreate the conditions to work together in a very flexible way using our portfolio of meeting rooms. The idea is to be able to reserve rooms by the hour, up to 100 people, two weeks in advance, to create an open space and welcome the whole team or to organize a meeting, a seminar, a brainstorming session, etc. The offer is very flexible, the reservation is made online, by the hour. It is quite complementary to what we already offer with Comet Meetings, which allows you to organize strategic meetings for half a day or a day with a set of services. Teamwork is booked less in advance, for a shorter period of time, and does not include all the services we usually offer.

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Have these two new years changed your approach and your convictions? Could you have imagined Hospitality before the crisis?

Fabien Violet – We had already started working on this project before the crisis. We had the intuition that offices would have to evolve towards socialization and collaboration. The crisis reinforced our convictions. And in our original business, it has reinforced the need for companies to creater quality face-to-face moments. In fact, we broke our attendance records at the beginning of the school year. We have also taken advantage of the crisis to develop new offers, such as Hybrid meetings, or Studio, for filming.

What is your activity rate today?

Fabien Violet – Currently, about half of what it was before the crisis. But by the beginning of the school year we had returned to comparable levels, and with our new sites we had almost doubled our attendance. Since our creation five years ago, we have welcomed 300,000 customers on the Comet sites. And our goal is to reach the same figure in 2022 alone.