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Trend Report: Renting Rooms by the Hour

By Selena Fragassi


You don’t need a full day for your meetings—so why should you have to pay for one? That’s the premise of an on-demand rental app called Breather, which provides a 24/7 platform for booking meetings and events whenever they’re needed, even for less than an hour at a time.

“We find that a lot of companies love using our spaces for such a variety of reasons. It might be they don’t have adequate space in their own office for a big meeting so they want to take it offsite, or sometimes they just want to get out of the routine and meet somewhere different. Or, someone might be traveling or be in a different part of the city or state from where their office is,” says Tom Sleigh, director of real estate for Breather. “Anyone can hop on the app and book something quickly for as long or as short as they wish.”

The platform has been around for five years and though it started in Montreal, it has expanded rapidly to London as well as 10 cities in North America, among them New York City, San Francisco, Boston, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Washington D.C. To date, there are 500 spaces to choose from and Breather’s niche is smaller, more intimate options that cater to 4-10 people. “Our max capacity seated is about 50 guests,” says Sleigh, noting that each is designed with the end user in mind with lots of natural lighting, LCD TVs with every possible connector, and free Wi-Fi. There’s also a 24/7 help desk and a network of Breather ambassadors in every city that can meet a group at the venue for a welcome introduction and/or for troubleshooting. Tours can also be arranged.

The Breather app, and a coordinating online portal, are incredibly easy to use and specific, with filters that can be added for hours of the day, city and neighborhood, and price, which can be incredibly economical, some venues renting for under $50/hour. The app uses live pricing and locks in rates once booked, and also allows the planner to send the agenda to everyone attending. But the real differentiator, says Sleigh, “is that we focus on flexibility.” Not only does Breather let you rent by the hour, but they also let you cancel up to two hours in advance with no penalty fee. “It’s really unusual in the meeting and event world, but as groups change and planners change, we wanted to meet them head on,” he adds. “And they book with us repeatedly.”

It’s a common scenario at Metro Meeting Centers-Boston as well. This high-end conference center in the middle of the city’s financial district also offers hourly rates and is one of the only places in this top tier market to do so.

“No one really offers hourly options in Boston,” says Maureen Ridings, VP of sales and marketing. “A lot of venues have a la carte packages, which is great since you can pick and choose what you need, but food alone can be $100 or more per person. I really do think we have the best deal in town.”

Metro Meeting Centers employs both all-inclusive rates for full day meetings and hourly rates of just $29 per person per hour that includes the room, full A/V including a projector, screen, and built-in audio, Wi-Fi, and a continental breakfast or afternoon break, depending on the time block. Hourly meetings carry a two-hour minimum and are usually held from 8-10 a.m. and 9-11 a.m. or 3-5 p.m. and 4-6 p.m. and are quite popular with the venue’s clients in the financial, law, pharmaceutical, and biotech industries that rely on regular meetings to get the job done.

“When we opened 12 years ago, the day meeting package was all the rage, but now with companies being so cost conscious and scaling back from being away from the office all day, the hourly package is really enticing,” adds Ridings. “Boston is super competitive–we have so many hotels and conference centers in the area, so we have to be ahead of the curve.”

And the venue has an inherent benefit in offering this model too, says Ridings. “After the morning meeting, we can turn the room around and use it for another group in the afternoon, so it makes sense for us too. We can book more clients in the same day.”

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(800) 471.8704

Metro Meeting Centers
Boston, MA
(617) 737.1200