Selina Co-Founder on New ‘Inside-the-Box’ Thinking for Hospitality

Skift grip

Human connections are as important as Wi-Fi connections, and each will inspire the production of today’s and tomorrow’s digital nomads.

Carley Thornel

Blurry lines aren’t just what you start to see after a long night’s journey.

Nor should they be if you ask Daniel Rudasveski, Chief Growth Officer and co-founder of Selina, the hotel/hostel group that launched in 2014 to create “the first working ecosystem , residence and leisure in the world”.

Selina’s 144 properties in 25 countries are rooted in providing immersive cultural experiences in traditionally unexplored neighborhoods, while also offering coworking, leisure and wellness opportunities.

Rudasevski will discuss his vision for “How Changes in Lifestyle and Work Will Reshape Hospitality” during a Skift Future of Lodging Forum on May 11-12, on a panel that will also feature Alex Chatzieleftheriou, CEO and co-founder of global proptech startup Blueground.

Skift: Given the astronomical rise of the digital nomad in recent years, Selina’s model seems downright prescient. How has thinking outside the box benefited your brand?

Rudasevsky: We like to say we think inside the box, but in a non-traditional way. Selina isn’t the first brand to offer co-working spaces, but we’re the first to offer them in insane places. [Laughs.]

If I feel like I’m in a tourist environment, I leave. I want it to feel authentic. That’s what we try to do: bring localism everywhere we go. So if you fly to Lima Peru, you are in Peru. If you go to Cusco, you don’t sell, you don’t feel “Miami”, do you? Our pre-opening process involves working with locals to bring in local artists to help reinvent each place. It is very difficult because you have to change and customize each location. There’s no brand book that says, “If you do that, it’s a Selina.” We are in the Amazon, we are in Ecuador, we are in Chelsea, New York. It’s extreme.

But in every city we have the infrastructure, like wifi, for co-working. We have a communal kitchen, because we have people who live in Selina and it’s a subscription and they go everywhere and live in Selina for a few months, maybe a year. [Selina CoLive, or Community Living, starts at $450 a month.] We have well-being and we have this “playground”. We always say “this is where it all happens”.

Skift: Many of your locations have shared hosting spaces. Other hotel brands are taking the opposite approach and expanding shared spaces like lobbies. Have you changed your model and approach for new developments?

Rudasevsky: We focus a lot on those amenities that create Selina’s unique environment. We firmly believe, “I don’t know why you need a big lobby. Why can’t the lobby be 100 other things that can connect people? »

Only people who have a lot of confidence come to a bar and we start talking with strangers. Our main goal at Selina is to build our places in a way that interaction happens naturally.

Skift: Given the new flexibilities to work from anywhere, has your target customer expanded?

Rudasevsky: Seventy percent of millennials and Gen Z are lonely, to the right? What we’re trying to do is build physical places and stay social without all the social media. People have less self-confidence as soon as they go on social networks. You do all of this “loving”, but it’s not always the reality.

Our co-working crowd is only growing and growing. And our main goal in the business, our number one KPI is “How many people have made friends at Selina?” and we measure it. How many places do you frequent in the hotel business and have you made a friend?

Skift: What is your view on the delineation of work and play?

Rudasevsky: Today you know that everyone who travels also works. Thousands of years ago people had to move from place to place. And that’s how “hospitality” started, it was a place to put your horses, or your family. It was slow. There was a split. Hotels were a place to sleep, maybe have breakfast before leaving. Even 20, 10 years ago you were going to a place and you had already booked the restaurant and the tours. You go where the tourists go. Where you can be sold more stuff. But today’s traveler is much more sophisticated.

Skift: What excites you most about innovation in hospitality, whether it’s technology or new ways of thinking?

Rudasevsky: Innovation, there are two ways to see it. It may be operationally, how to find the right location for us. Build this one Selina opening system in 45-90 days. It’s huge.

When we say we think inside the box but differently, we have that [cultural] exchange program [Work x Stay residencies]. If you are a DJ in Europe and nobody knows you in America, or vice versa, you can go through Selena for an exchange. And because we are present in 25 countries and will continue to grow, we can bring so much content with the exchange.

The exchange is within our rules. You are never at 100% occupancy 365 days a year. So if you use this open space in a smart way, it’s a huge innovation because we believe that good content is always better than good marketing. [Laughs.]