Updated: Jan 21
Greetings, visitors. By now you'll have a flavour of what our concept is all about, and we won't repeat that ad nauseum in these blog pages. Yet perhaps you're curious as to where the idea for industry coworking in AU/NZ comes from, and if you're one of these nosey types then this post is for you. It starts with Luke. His business, The Visa Machine (travel visas) began life in a tiny office suite in Sydney CBD with no windows. As things grew so did a need for a bigger space, one that preferably had a view of the outside world so that you'd know whether to take your umbrella to lunch. Thankfully TVM wasn't committed to a long lease, and after a search the team moved to an office in McMahons Point, near North Sydney, and at a similar time opened in Wellington, NZ to add to the existing offices in Washington DC and London. Those locations are near the embassies, you see. The Visa Machine was subleasing space from an unrelated, non-industry company, and by late 2019 it was time to move on again after more growth. Without washing dirty linen in public too extensively, the office was noisy with a somewhat pungent resident dog that merrily went through everyone's bins after they've discarded their lunch, and did its business on a tray containing fake grass in a corner. Fine if you're a dog-lover with an impaired sense of smell, but it's not for everyone. Luke started talking about relocating, and it was at this point that several travel people and a couple of entire businesses asked to be kept in touch, for they too wanted to move on. You can see where this ends up. We got together and started to share an idea of something that was more than simply an office. A clubhouse for the industry, a place for startups and veterans and everyone else in between.
Sharing office space is far from new, and indeed many companies in travel and tourism already share premises. But the element of 'coworking' and providing more than simply offices and desks IS something new, and through our discussions and finding out more about this strange new world, the concept of The Travel Industry Hub was created. We even got ourselves a logo and began chatting to industry people across tourism, travel, aviation, tours and indeed whoever else would speak to us.
We also sent out surveys, attended conferences and spent money attending functions (more on that later), all in pursuit of discovering whether there might be demand to turn this idea into something. From the hundreds of conversations we had, it became clear that the concept of a shared workspace alongside relevant people and companies was a winner. We would, therefore, open Australia and New Zealand's first ever industry-specific coworking spaces. They'd be for anyone in travel, tourism, hospitality and those serving those industries. Jump forward many months later, months filled with searching for office space and canvassing people about what the industry actually wants, and here we are. We're working towards opening a space in Sydney, meaning that industry people will be soon be able to rent desks, meeting rooms and more, as and when needed, whilst having something in common with the person they're making coffee next to in the kitchen. The question then is....why would you cowork anywhere else?
Of course, during those barren months since inception, we've had plenty of ideas - both our own and those thrown at us. (Naturally we claim all the good ones as our own). With an office of travel/tourism people and lots of different companies represented inside, that presents a unique set of circumstances and opportunities to do more than simply offer desks and rooms. We can offer meaningful workshops for our members by inviting speakers inside, recording or even live-stream those to anyone in the industry wanting to take part. We can also act as a business address for any company in the world wishing to have an address in our cities, with office space for them when in town. We are also brilliantly positioned to help startup companies, of any description. That's another story for another day, but whilst there many programmes around claiming to benefit startups, we have found that these are usually 'accelerator' schemes that are short-term and intensive, targeted at a particular facet of our industry. Great if you're in, but what happens afterwards? Where do these people base themselves? How do they make meaningful industry contacts to move things faster? Where do they access resources tailored for people in this region?
Back to earth. First we have the small matter of getting our space working, creating a great community of both residents and members further away that want to be part of something new. We ask for your support, and if you're in a position to get involved in any of the areas mentioned, we'd love to hear from you. Richard