20 September 2019
The Blueprint co-working space offers a host of facilities including a bar and café. Photo: Swire Properties
The Blueprint co-working space offers a host of facilities including a bar and café. Photo: Swire Properties

How Swire doubled the membership fee at a co-working space

Name a business that can charge customers double the previous price even though new competitors are entering the fray almost every day.

Property? Sure. Small units? Bingo.

Let’s talk about Swire Properties, which has relaunched its co-working space “Blueprint” in its famous office empire Taikoo Place.

The high-end office landlord is pricing the monthly membership fee at HK$4,500, up from the HK$2,000 tag two years ago when it first launched the enterprise accelerator program that offered six-months’ free work space to 11 startups.

Swire initiated the co-working space concept at a time when there were only eight operators. But since then we have seen the entry of several players, WeWork and Naked Hub, to name just a few.

According to some reports, as many as 200 more entities could join the fray in the near future to grab a slice in the booming market.

Apart from the city’s aspiration to turn into a startup hub, what has helped the co-working space idea become a hot concept is the emerging trend of the “gig economy” where more youngsters opt to work on short-term contracts or freelance assignments instead of full-time jobs.

Despite the high fees, Swire’s co-working space is still seen as a good option for entities and individuals seeking temporary facilities.

Relocated from the Cornwall industrial building to the Grade A Dorset House in Taikoo Place, Blueprint offers 24-hour access and includes facilities such as shower room and a Swire-run TONG Bar & Cafe, apart from an unmatched exhibition and conference room service.

Swire Properties director Don Taylor said the firm has not only provide venue and facilities, it also ensures a business network which he believes will lead to more interactions and collaborations.

Blueprint offered 70 top executives and entrepreneurs, from a spectrum of companies that includes names such as Uber, Tesla, Rackspace and Lenovo other than Swire’s own executives, for a mentor network program.

The co-working space area also expanded to a 30,000 square-foot office with 90 desks and 13 private offices.

That is perhaps why 85 percent of former tenants have moved into the new office, which already has 75 percent occupancy rate.

The co-working hub is part of Swire’s HK$15 billion redevelopment project that targets startups and multinational companies looking for temporary work space.

Private offices are available for HK$30,000 per month per head, and users can drop out anytime as there is no binding lease.

Swire’s flagship office building One Island East has an ongoing rental rate of between HK$55 and HK$65 per square foot per month, while the rest of the Taikoo Place is being leased at around HK$40 per square foot.

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EJ Insight writer