The hotel business is notoriously capital-intensive: Long before a property opens, a hotelier often invests millions in obtaining a property and constructing a building. But companies such as Sleepbox seek to provide an alternative to brick-and-mortar hotels by offering modular sleeping capsules that can fit into existing buildings.
The idea behind such capsules is to lower the barriers to entry in the hospitality market, while providing the flexibility of providing lodging in environments that might not be suited to traditional hotels. Sleepbox’s units, for example, can be placed in all sorts of places where people want to rest, from airports to buildings in city centers.
Overall, the concept “unlocks a whole new world for hospitality,” Sleepbox Co-founder and CEO Mikhail Krymov told PYMNTS.com in an interview. And, in terms of efficiency, Krymov claims that Sleepbox is both 10 times cheaper and faster to launch compared to a traditional hotel building.
In order to stay in a Sleepbox, consumers can download an app that allows them to book a room and then check in to their capsules one hour before arrival. When consumers arrive at a place where there is a Sleepbox, they go straight to their rooms and open the capsule with their phones or a code. Alternatively, guests who want human interaction can book a capsule with a staff member at the front desk as they would at a traditional property.
Once inside the capsule, guests can control its ambience and environment – variables such as temperature, lighting or music – from the app. They can also pay for their stay with a credit card in the app, and can build a profile that saves their preferences for a future stay. The idea is to build the user experience in such a way that guests can complete essential functions of their stay through their phones.
Krymov said that Sleepbox sees a blend of business and leisure travelers. In today’s hotel market, there is not a huge difference between those two segments of guests: With bizlesuire travel, some guests decide to tack on one or two extra days to their business trips for personal travel. In airports, capsule hotels like Sleepbox have a wide appeal, as people traveling for both business and leisure can face the same travel challenges, such as delays, layovers and 11-hour-long flights. In terms of tired travelers, “they want to rest a little bit before their next flight,” Krymov said.
When it comes to Sleepbox’s competitors, Krymov noted that several firms do offer pods in airports, but those pods are not soundproof or private. “The whole user experience is very different,” Krymov said. Sleepbox, by comparison, seeks to offer a new level of comfort. In addition, Krymov noted that there are competitors such as YOTEL, but their traditional model of building rooms in physical brick-and-mortar structures can cost millions of dollars and can take years to complete. Sleepbox, on the other hand, seeks to provide more flexibility while unlocking new niche, he said.
The Road Ahead
Beyond serving as a hotel room for travelers, modular sleeping capsules like Sleepbox can also be used to recharge tired employees in offices. The idea is that employees sometimes fall behind on their sleep, and as a result, their work performance can suffer. In those cases, Krymov sees capsule units as a way to help employees get rest in a pinch when they most need it. And Sleepbox provides a way for employers to send a message to employees that they support their decisions to nap at work occasionally if they need to do so to perform well.
But, for hotels, Sleepbox’s value proposition is to provide a more affordable option for travelers looking for a place to sleep. The idea, Krymov said, is that the modular capsule units become a vehicle for a traveler’s journey, rather than a destination in itself with all the amenities of a traditional hotel room. To introduce the concept to larger groups of travelers, modular capsule units like Sleepbox are starting to launch in airports as the alternative takes hold.