Regus Business Lounges Around the World
Those following my blog for a while have seen me mention Regus business lounges multiple times before. Essentially, this basic level of Regus membership gives me access to space at various office buildings throughout the world with free WiFi and coffee to boot. It may not sound like much, but for someone working on the road, literally around the world, it is actually quite valuable.
The premise behind Regus is simple - traveling professionals need access to office space and business facilities (video conferencing, presentation equipment, etc) to run their business while on the road and that is exactly what Regus provides. On top of that, many small firms are based at Regus offices full time, renting the space and getting personalized answering service, IT infrastructure and prestigious location address as part of the deal. Their website claims that there are 1500 locations in 600 cities around 100 countries. That's quite a reach!
Personally, I have visited Regus business lounges during my round-the-world trip in Munich (2), Geneva, Frankfurt (3), Cape Town, Dubai, Singapore (2), Sydney (3), Melbourne (3), Auckland, Sao Paulo and Buenos Aires (3). Since that trip, I have also visited Tulsa, Brussels, Kiev (3), Portland, San Francisco and probably a few others I do not remember now. And here is why.
Update: during my recent two months trip around Europe, I have also visited lounges in Oslo, Stockholm (2), Gothenburg, and Barcelona. For some reason, Stockholm business lounges were always full - I have never seen 10-12 people at a business lounge before.
Regus Businessworld Benefits (or Why I Use It)
There are various levels of Regus memberships with Regus Businessworld being the lowest tier. I have used it for almost two years now so I am quite familiar with its benefits. With it I get...
Access to 'business lounges'
These vary greatly by location and in some places may include some comfy armchairs, while others may have a high table with high chairs set up (for a very modern techie look), and yet others may not actually have a dedicated lounge but rather a table set up in the kitchenette area. There are also a few locations that have businesspods (or thinkpods) in the lounge - essentially a small personal cubicle providing a little more privacy.
All lounges have one or two computers set up and available for use. 99% of the time these are the iMacs (very old and crappy iMacs in case of Buenos Aires). These are available on first-come-first-served basis so if someone is using it, you are out of luck. However, I found it very rare that anyone was using these.
WiFi, and in many places wired connection, is available and usually works very well. Different offices use different authentication methods for internet access so while most of the time it is painless, some require relogin every so minutes and, in rare cases, it can become a pain to keep my laptop and the iPhone connected. Also, sometimes this caused issues with the login pages not being properly loading on either the phone or the laptop.
Most places have a nice kitchenette stocked with all I needed to heat up something I bought outside and have a decent lunch. Oh and of course, how could one work without endless supply of coffee, right? Most Regus locations have top-of-the-line espresso machines and coffee makers, however a few did not (Buenos Aires, once again!).
My drink of choice? Hot chocolate (with milk) and two shots of espresso!
Unadvertised Benefits (or Why I Love It)
Sure all of those benefits are great. But I found other unadvertised benefits of using the lounges being just as important to me as I hopped around the world.
Access to a printer
This may not seem as such a big deal, but I travel a lot with low cost airlines that usually charge extra for airport check-in (not to mention huge lines). So to save time and money, I prefer to check-in online. Unfortunately, most hostels do not have printers, nor do many people I couchsurf with so Regus once again was a great help in this regard. For 5-10 cents per page (and in many cases free for a couple of pages), I was able to avoid the check-in hassle at many unfamiliar airports.
[message type="custom"]Edit: also, many of the discount train tickets I purchased in Europe required me to print them before-hand, with no option for 'check-in' at the train station without significant fees (5 Francs in Geneva!).[/message]
Seems silly, especially to those in the US, but bathrooms can be hard to come by in some countries. I don't think there was a single case where I visited a lounge just for the bathroom, but a clean, modern bathroom is nothing to discount!
And there are also the amazing views.
Located in the prime office buildings, and in many cases on top floors, the views from the lounges could be pretty amazing as well. No need to pay for an observation deck and stand in line with a bunch of tourists!
I also enjoyed visiting offices located in historic buildings, especially in Europe.
A familiar face
As I travel to unfamiliar cities and countries, knowing that there is a place I am familiar with is a huge psychological advantage. If all else fails, I can go there, get a warm cup of coffee, get on the internet, ask English-speaking staff for assistance with whatever I am trying to accomplish and
take a dump catch my breath.
Case in point - when I got to Brussels last summer, I was going to meet my couchsurfing host at a train station. I was tired getting no sleep from the trans-atlantic flight and all the hassle associated with it and I could not figure out how to connect to the internet at the train station. So I fired up a Regus app on my phone and it showed that there is an office right near me. I walked outside the train station and immediately saw the familiar Regus sign:
Right away I felt a great relief - almost as if I have just gotten home - my home away from home. I walked over there, brewed myself an espresso, checked the email to make sure there was no last minute change of plans and 15 minutes later met my host for an awesome day in Brussels.
How To Get It
So if you are traveling quite a bit, or even work from "home" a lot, this is something you might want to take out for a test drive. Luckily, you can get a full year of Regus Businessworld membership for free either through TripIt Pro (an awesome travel itinerary aggregator) or, apparently, through your Avis membership as reported by Dan yesterday.