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Hotels and short-term rentals reinvent themselves as escape pods

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Working from home used to be considered a perk. Only the lucky few had jobs they could do “from anywhere,” whether that was in a home office, from the couch, or from a poolside lounge chair. They were the envy of the modern office worker.

Of course, that all changed in 2020. Now, 72% of workers report having worked from home at some point during the past six months, and 25% don’t foresee going back to work at the office for at least another six months. And while some have found that beneficial, 25% report a drop-off in productivity due to the challenges of working remotely.

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At the same time, as the line between work-life and home-life has blurred, the one escape that most people count on for a reprieve—leisure travel—has been cut off. That’s not only left workers and their families in tight quarters, it’s also put hotels and short-term rental companies in a tight spot.

The situation has forced many brands to reinvent their marketing strategies. It’s forced workers to consider new alternatives for remote workspaces. And it’s led to a renewed focus on travel as a way for families to escape with each other, rather than escape from each other.

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Many hotels have responded by repurposing their rooms as remote workspaces, offering package deals to attract remote workers who have grown tired of working from home. And it’s not surprising that many find the idea of a “work escape” appealing. Our research found that only 46% of remote workers have a dedicated home office space, with the rest left to improvise a workspace in a bedroom, basement, or garage.

Workers cite many reasons for using hotels as remote workspaces, including having a private, clean and quiet workspace (52%), access to hotel amenities, business center, food and beverages (58%), and escaping from the work-from-home routine (60%). It appears that road warriors who are already accustomed to working from hotels are most likely to use them as remote offices, with 38% of frequent business travelers doing so, compared to just 17% of those who don’t travel for work. But that may be changing, as just under half of those surveyed said they are likely to use a hotel as a workspace in 2021.

In the leisure travel market, there’s been a new focus on helping families escape together safely. With major attractions and busy destinations offline, many travelers have begun seeking vacation spots where they can remain socially distant while still getting out of the house—an especially appealing prospect if someone in the household has been working from home.

Those trends, along with the emerging phenomenon of “travel pods,” where families or small groups of friends travel together in isolation, are potential bright spots on the horizon for the travel and tourism industry.

As for what 2021 will hold, we expect to see an increase in workers seeking respite at hotels and other alternative workspaces, as more properties begin to offer business-friendly packages and amenities. And other new innovations are likely to follow, both in business and leisure hospitality.

To get a clearer look at what your business can expect during the year ahead, schedule a consultation with our Travel Market Research Expert today.

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