Technology has been the great remote-work enabler, fast-tracking a way of working that used to be a luxury, into a trend.

Technology has been the great remote-work enabler, fast-tracking a way of working that used to be a luxury, now a trend. The rise in videoconferencing and team communication apps has allowed grand-scale collaboration across countries, continents and time zones; made many face-to-face activities unnecessary and possibly soon obsolete. With 4G cellular networks making way for 5G, bringing with it speeds of up to 100 times faster, ultra-high-definition video, and ultimately connecting humans, devices and machines, the digital landscape will be revolutionised once more and remote work made even easier.

The trend has been embraced by many industries and corporates, including travel, with an increase in independent travel agents set up in home offices and servicing clients with as much, if not more, efficiency.

The knock-on effect

Travel and hospitality have been reaping the benefits in several ways. Airline carriers have reported an upswing in travellers, who are combining business with leisure, and extending their work stays to incorporate some personal leisure activities. American Airlines, for example, has estimated that at one stage, 45% of its revenue is derived from such travellers, who are enjoying this new flexibility and the chance to travel more often, due to not being office-bound.

The trend is both domestic and international with “workcations” creating opportunities for tourism and the growth of this new guest segment. Travel agents are reporting an increase in bookings for longer stays, with time split into half work and half play, where entire families travel together. This has allowed special packages to be developed to service this segment.

Hotels are already geared towards conferencing, and as such, many have easily adjusted to the trend by creating co-working spaces, thereby diversifying their income streams. High-speed Wi-Fi in rooms, adjustable desks and interleading family rooms are no longer “special requests” but expectations, and accommodation businesses able to provide this are seeing an increase in occupancy.

Several global hotel groups situated in business precincts have even converted guest rooms into offices and are promoting “work-at-a-hotel” packages to remote workers, some of whom are simply seeking a change from the home office or needing a more private place in which to work. The daily, weekly or monthly rates on offer are covering all the bases to entice more clientele. notes that some countries are capitalising on the remote working trend by offering visas for longer durations to encourage digital nomads to their shores and help boost tourism, among them Dubai, Mauritius and some destinations in the Caribbean.

Alternative accommodation

“Aparthotels” or “residential hotels” came into favour during the pandemic with travellers seeking more privacy and larger self-contained accommodation. This model combines traditional hotel services like concierge and laundry, as well as on-site amenities, such as restaurants, bars and gyms with apartment living and self-catering facilities. It has great appeal to remote workers by offering
a home-away-from-home that’s in-destination.

Rentals are flexible and guests can check in and out whenever they want and stay however long they want. Amenities are factored in, instead of billed as “extras” as would be the case in many hotels. By 2030, the global residential hotel market size is expected to hit US$120.90 million, according to a report by Spherical Insights & Consulting, reflecting the appetite for such stays.

In fact, there are many things that your customers would prefer to do with no human interaction at all. Have you asked yourself, your customers, which channels they would prefer to use? And for what tasks?

Renting residences such as villas or private houses is another popular option for longer stays and “workcations”, when travellers are joined by family or friends. No longer the ambit of Airbnbs alone, hotel groups are increasingly extending their offering by incorporating residences in their portfolios. The experience is one of ultimate privacy and immersion in the destination of choice, with optional “five-star services” such as a chef or butler.

So how can your travel business speak to this trend?

Often, the first exposure a potential customer will have to your company is in a digital space as they learn more about you and services, and this may change as they proceed on the path to purchasing your services.

As a travel agent, tour operator or DMC, it starts with identifying your customer and their unique needs and preferences. This is where a good CRM is essential to building your customer profiles so that you are able to deliver personalised sales campaigns and targeted content.

Grow your supplier network and build relationships to enable you to include inventory tailored for longer stays and workcations and ensure that your platform for showcasing these listings is attractive and user-friendly.

Curate your content carefully to reflect your understanding of the remote work market and keep it current and relevant. Nothing scuppers a lead conversion more than outdated information. Whether you’re an operator or accommodation supplier, your collateral should comprise detailed product and destination information, reviews and virtual tours, allowing customers to visually assess whether an establishment and its location support their work-play needs.

Consider a repository that keeps all your content in once place and from where you can easily build your digital sales and marketing assets, itineraries, or brochures to showcase your longer stay and “workaction” options alongside your other offers. The Wetu platform has been designed with this in mind – not only to host travel content where it is easily accessible, easy to update and easy to incorporate but also to assist with creating digital assets and giving access to distribution tools. In this way, connection and collaboration are enabled throughout the value chain to ensure that travel businesses thrive.

Our industry has not been immune to the 2022 workforce trends of “great resignation” and “quiet quitting” and many travel brands are grappling labour shortages across the travel and tourism eco-system, from a shortage of baggage handlers at airports to senior consultants.

Ultimately, the traveller’s experience is paramount, and by building a network, as we at Wetu have done, to bring together and enable the players who can contribute and add value, individual businesses can progress and grow, as well as the collective.

Experts say the remote working is set to increase this year with technology allowing more sectors to embrace the trend. Travel businesses harnessing the opportunities to market and sell in this space are set to prosper – but much more can be achieved through collaboration…

Let’s share a practical example of how this works in the travel and tourism space, using Wetu – a platform that, by its very nature, facilitates connection, communication and knowledge exchange.

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