Hospitality Looks to Cash in on ‘Working Vacations’ as Corporate Travel Still Lags

The hospitality industry is still recovering from the blunt impact of the pandemic, but many industry experts are optimistic for 2022. Hotel occupancy rates are projected to reach 63.4 percent this year, much higher than the 44 percent and 57.6 percent reached in 2020 and 2021, respectively, according to a report from the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA). Recovery is in full swing, but AHLA cautions that 2022 will continue to be uneven and volatile for hospitality.

One reason is that a key driver of growth is still missing: corporate travel. With many workers still not back in the office, business travel is not quite at pre-pandemic levels. Business travel is only expected to account for 43.6 percent of hospitality room revenue in 2022, far from the 2019 level of 52.5 percent, according to Phocuswright, a travel market research firm. But with the increase in remote work, some hotels are cashing in on the growing trend of ‘working vacations’ and increased ‘bleisure’ travel.

For example, Mandarin Oriental in Washington, DC is offering their ‘MOBase,’ designed for “the busy executive in need of a temporary DC residence and office space combined with the conveniences and amenities of a luxury hotel,” according to the Mandarin website. The hotel bills it as a stay for workers in a distraction-free environment with a comfortable space to work and relax.

With many workers untethered from the office, laptop-lugging employees have been taking more so-called working vacations. It’s good news for hospitality facilities able to cater to the white-collar class that has above-average buying power and more travel flexibility.

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Another example of this trend is a company called Remote Year, a remote work community of like-minded travelers who live and work together on retreats, trips, and ‘journeys,’ which entail working remotely and exploring a new country every month. For example, one upcoming trip is a four-month journey through Latin America, exploring Mexico, Guatemala, Colombia, and Peru. Hopefully, they manage to get their work done, too.

With return to office plans continuously pushed back, hybrid and remote workers still have an opportunity to take these extended trips. A Deloitte report on the 2022 Travel Outlook says hotels and resorts can cash in by providing fast and reliable Wi-Fi and convenient access to wellness-related amenities like quick healthy meals and fitness equipment. Keep an eye on this travel and workplace trend in 2022 because it’s expected to grow.

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