By Sarah Johnston
The last two years has signaled monumental shifts within the hospitality industry – both good and bad. Along with the challenges surrounding fluctuating demand and staffing shortages, the pandemic has also ushered in a new era of hybrid travel that are giving hotels a new revenue lifeline. More and more people around the globe are now working from home, and they are also realizing that when your office can be anywhere with a good internet connection – you can work from just about anywhere.
According to a recent Skift report, remote work is still widely prevalent across all international markets, with 55% of surveyed workers in India, 31% of respondents in the US, and 32% of the participants in the UK still work remotely two years into the pandemic. Even in China, where stricter policies have helped most of the country return to ‘normal’ daily life, 11% of respondents are still performing their work remotely. The same Skift report also found that workers with higher incomes in the US, UK, and Australia were more likely to work remotely – which means these potential guests have the desire to travel and the resources to experience the best of what your destination has to offer.
For hotels and resorts, this means looking beyond what leisure travel and business trips meant historically and embracing new forms of hybrid travel that include a bit of both. Of course, in order to drive bookings, we need to know what the jargon actually refers to.
What Does ‘Bleisure’ and ‘Workation’ Mean?
Bleisure – This travel trend is all about combining work or a business trip with adventures, entertainment and the other perks of spending time in a new area. Consider an employee who wants to add a few days of fun onto a conference or a remote worker who doesn’t want to wait for an all-out vacation to start enjoying themselves. These travelers may spend a week or two at your property – with mornings by the pool, the afternoon at their laptop or in a conference, and the evening checking out your area’s local bar and nightlife scene.
Workation – This type of travel takes remote work to a whole new level. Previously referred to as ‘digital nomads’ – these workers decided they truly can work from anywhere, including hotels and resorts around the world. These type of guests like spending several weeks or even a month in a single location, then moving along to the next adventure – all while keeping their day job 100% remote.
How Hotels & Resorts Can Capitalize on Hybrid Travel Trends
Now that you understand the mindset that drives these hybrid travel experiences, the key is determining how to entice these guests to your property.
Tip # 1 – Become a local resource.
While Bleisure and Workations are different beasts, they do share some similarities, specifically in the planning stage. Anyone anticipating a good amount of free-time during their trip to a new location wants to know everything there is to do in your area, how far the hotel is from each attraction, and specific information about weather trends, what to pack, and so on. You can answer all these questions by providing the information on your hotel’s website. You can also gain valuable organic SEO traction by significantly beefing up your local area and attraction pages, along with blog posts that deep dive into the best activities, attractions and experiences near your hotel. That said, it’s equally important to promote your own hotel amenities to drive the booking – especially if you can book tours and experiences through the hotel or partner with local vendors to provide guests with access to special tours, boat charters, attraction tickets and other perks.
Tip #2 – Create special packages/offers for remote workers.
Since these guests are not 100% leisure or 100% business, it’s time to think about the unique needs of this demographic, and create compelling offers that address those requirements. This can be everything from discounts on extra nights to all-inclusive packages that feature meals at your restaurant(s), tickets to nearby tours and attractions, and access to business-centric resources like ergonomic desks or private work pods, along with high-speed Wi-Fi. You can also considering partnering with nearby co-working spaces to help fill in any service gaps your hotel can’t provide.
Tip #3 – Don’t forget about families and spouses
When courting hybrid travel guests, it’s important to think beyond the single, remote-working traveler. For Bleisure travel in particular, many of these guests bring a spouse or the whole family along to upgrade the business trip to a full-on family getaway, so including options like “Kids Stay Free”, access to day-time children’s services, or even spa/local tour discounts for spouses while their partner is busy can significantly increase your chances of getting that booking.
Tip #4 – Promote your loyalty scheme, if you have one
Both these types of travel have ample opportunity for repeat business, for example, if a remote worker visits a destination for a month one summer and can work well while exploring the area, they are very likely to return – perhaps every summer! There is a great opportunity for you to capitalize on this flexibility of the traveler and offer great perks if they do return. The same goes for the Bleisure travelers, while traveling for business often results in individuals joining loyalty schemes, be sure to include perks and rewards in your loyalty scheme that cater to the needs to of these travelers.
While the last two years have drastically changed the hospitality landscape, the emergence of hybrid travel as a major trend is an exciting opportunity for properties to regain momentum and expand the idea of what their best guest looks like. By embracing these travelers and making tweaks to already existing processes, you can increase direct bookings, drive revenue through extended stays and ancillary spend, and create the one-of-a-kind experiences that bring those guests back for future visits and transform them into loyal advocates for your brand.