Appen met Charlie MacGregor

16-04-2021 (07:00) - Appen met

Charlie MacGregor is iemand waar je misschien nog niet veel van gehoord hebt maar indrukwekkend werk doet: als CEO en founder van The Student Hotel is de coronapandemie een interessante test voor het businessmodel dat het hotel belichaamt. De ruimtes die het gebouw beschikbaar stelt voor mensen die hybride werken kwamen ineens heel goed uit. Zijn filosofie - bouw een community en zorg dat leren centraal staat in het business model, implementeert hij ook in Movement on the Ground. Hij is medeoprichter van deze organisatie die hun vluchtelingenkampen runt aan de Europese grens.
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I’m ready haha
Nice! So you co-founded an organization called Movement on the Ground, can you tell me about it?
What a great 1st question.... :)
yes MOTG, i started it 5 years ago with some friends. we went to lesbos to volunteer and never left. we started giving food and clothes and helping out to building and running our own camps. we are now focused on our "CamptoCampUS" model which is running a refugee camp in a way which treat the community with respect and dignity and empowers the community to look after their own surroundings and helps them grow while in a camp.
this model really works well and our goal is to have the big boys, like UNHCR, take this over and adopt it globally
which is a challenge :)
That sounds great! very ambitious indeed
It is really interesting you mention that the community is treated with respect and dignity, as volunteering can sometimes really be an ego-boost for the volunteer rather than the refugees
So it is nice that is taken into account
yes this is true. we saw that a lot. more in the beginning than now. we have a policy which means people really have to dedicate some real time to this so it puts off the people who are not serious.

the reality is that there wil be more and more refugees in the world, due to more war and environmental issues. the world needs to change the model of the current refugee camp, it doesnt work at so many levels and is far too expensive.
needs to really integrate with local communities and make sure people in the camps can grow and move on, not stand still while there...

It sounds like a very rewarding occupation
I wouldn't say it is the most logical addition to the student hotel, however! Or is there a connection between the two?

haha sort of....i saw so many different nationalities within TSH, all growing together and being one community. This really inspires me and makes me realise this generation are our future. This is really inspiring, especially when you see the talent that they are. When i saw the refugee crisis in 2015 I was really affected as i saw many people the same age as the TSH community who didn't have the chances that our customers did. I also realised that government were paying much more per night to house these groups than we charge at TSH, so i figured we could help find a better and cheaper solution...also, at TSH we use trust and design and community building to influence good behaviour, which really works. This was also used within MOTG and we see it also wor…
not rocket science :)
I like it! How has the transition into the covid-19 world gone for TSH? I guess (international) students are staying home?
It has been double to be honest. e have lost a lot of hotel revenue of course. But we have been able to use, for the first time, our hybrid model. This means we have taken rooms normally rented to hotel guests and we have filled them with studnets. so we have reduced our exposure to hotel, which i great for covid. we have seen that students have been very resilient and they are keen to stay in places like TSH which has huge common areas, which is effectively their common rooms now. So for us we see that the hybrid model works, we are cash flow positive and have a high occupancy of above 80%, which is amazing for a hotel company these days. we expect the coming student season to be very busy with more and more international students coming back, so while we…
so yes its been hard, especially for the teams, but also good to show the sector the big advantages of this model.

Yes the hybrid aspect really makes the concept flexible of course
I have personally definitely studied at TSH while libraries were closed last year so I know that it is an efficient way to use space ;)

yes, indeed....its a great model. Also with our lobbies being used lie you used them it means we have a real buzz in the lobbies, we think this will help us ramp us quickly as we have a great vibe which i think travellers will be looking for when they start to travel again.

Cool, I hope so!
People also are using the spaces for personal development and coaching sessions, right?
the spaces are used by the residents, co-workers (also very resilient during covid) and hotel guests. On top of that we have meetings spaces which are being used for company breakout meetings or also for the UVA use our space instead of opening the campus up. we have to make sure everybody follows all the covid rules and our F&B is closed and no "non guests" are allowed in but there is a busy vibe at least.
excited when we can be open again :)

Me, too! Is there anything else you are working on for the future that you can disclose? ;)
we have seen that the whole market is looking at TSH and our model, also with long stay guests, co-working and community based yes we are busy with some new products and tweaks but these will be realised towards year end, or maybe start of watch this space for sure. we aim to keep a few step ahead of the market and keep our space as leader of hybrid :)

nice, that sounds exciting! good luck for now
Thank you for your time!

thank you :)