Airbnb’s Lehane says the ability to take work where your family wants to go means that “now you can organise your work life with your family at the centre, as opposed to working your family around your job.”
And that also benefits hotels and destinations, as they become less reliant on excessively busy peak periods that have traditionally been deemed convenient times to travel – say, school holiday weeks.
Stays are getting longer, too. In a trends report for the year ahead, Airbnb shared that in the third quarter of last year (for which the most recent data were available), almost half of the nights booked on its platform were for stays of at least seven days, up from 44 per cent in 2019. One out of every five gross nights booked in the quarter were for stays of 28 days or longer.
And data from vacation property management platform Guesty suggest the trend of extended stays has continued to grow during the pandemic. Last year, 14-plus-day bookings grew 33 per cent from a year earlier, with a cumulative rise of 121 per cent since 2019.
Business travel will have to be more fun
Don’t count out pure business travel – it’s still a thing. But it’s also evolving. “Work culture is really being stymied by distributed teams,” says Evan Konwiser, executive vice president for product and strategy at American Express Global Business Travel. “We didn’t realise how much we relied on offices for that. But now travel is emerging as a great way to de-commoditise your work experience.”
Gathering the team in a fun way, he says, has become a popular approach for this year, even if most companies are still opting to hold team-building events at their headquarters or in hybrid ways. But outliers – companies that are planning these retreats at, say, dude ranches – are increasing in popularity, spurring hope that vacation vibes can spill into business travel in the same way business has spilled into leisure trips.
Some are calling this a push for the “great reconnection”. Retreat-planning companies such as Troop and NextRetreat are among the travel industry start-ups that closed seed-funding rounds last year. And according to Skift, Salesforce.com’s Marc Benioff has even floated the possibility of building a “ranch-style resort for employees, where they can spend time team-building, take training sessions or even holiday with their families”.
Much of that is still sorting itself out. But expect more work trips this year, even if it’s just to head back to the office quarterly to check in with the team.
“Wild and crazy off-sites in cool venues will become part of the mix, 100 per cent,” Konwiser says. “But right now people are coming away saying it was so nice to be with my colleagues for a day.” And companies are going to go a greater distance to make sure the travel experience is a positive one, he adds. “I may have this one week to make you, team member, feel the power of our culture. Am I going to put you up at a highway motel or a cool boutique hotel in the heart of the city?”
Your hotel may look a little different
Because remote workers represent a whole new market for the travel industry to capture, accommodation providers will be racing to meet their needs – if they haven’t done so already. For laptop luggers, home rentals have the upper hand, says Deloitte’s Crowley, because they offer space to …….