Honey, I Shrunk the Vacation

Friends, I have a new travel word for you: shrinkcation.

HNN’s Senior Reporter Dana Miller was going through her notes from a panel at last week’s Hunter Hotel Investment Conference and she asked the newsroom, “Guys, have you ever heard this word ‘shrinkcation?’”

(Cue the Seinfeld and Rick Moranis jokes for those of us from a certain generation.)

George Limbert, president of Red Roof Inn, mentioned it on a general session panel, and turns out a shrinkcation is exactly what it sounds like: a shrunken vacation. Instead of spending a week on vacation, it’s two or three days.

Mind you, it’s not a staycation, the term for a vacation of any length of time that is closer to home. A staycation is about location; a shrinkcation is about duration. After some exhaustive online research (read: one Google search), turns out you also could call a shrinkcation a shortcation.

Of course, you could have a short vacation close to home, or a shrinkstaycation, but in that case, let’s agree to just call that one a long weekend.

At any rate, these shrinkcations are on the rise, Limbert said, representing yet another evolution or mutation of this never-ending wave of leisure travel demand we have seen for the past two years.

Whatever you call it, it makes a lot of sense. Think about it: More and more people are back to work in full capacity. Even if they’re not in an office or on site every day, they may not have quite as much free time to travel as they did in the throes of the pandemic. But we know this desire to travel burns strong with no signs of going out, so people are finding a way to do something, just for a shorter stretch. Add in the price pressures from fuel costs and those pesky high hotel rates (sorry!), and it just may make perfect sense. A family may not be able to afford a whole week at your hotel, but they’ll take three days, thank you very much.

And this summer, because of those higher fuel prices and rising airline ticket costs, my guess is that shrinkcations may very well be staycations too.

Really, this is in many ways the leisure travel equivalent of the smaller, higher-quality business meeting the industry has noticed in recent months. You may not have a group as large, staying as long, but when they are on property, they’re choosing top-shelf amenities and activities.

While we’re on the topic of new slang, I have another one for you — and I invented this one. For a long time, I called myself a bleisure traveler. Now I think that word has just gotten out of hand, and nobody really knows what it means or how to market to it or price for it. Is it a person who extends a business trip? Is it a person who doesn’t go into an office so they can stay in a hotel for a week working in the morning and having fun in the evening? Who knows!

Now I call myself a “leisure-adjacent traveler.”

But don’t get too excited. I define it as someone who travels almost exclusively for business (me), is quite skilled at finding some leisure pursuits along the way (also me), and who is generally very crabby when confronted by the throngs of pure-leisure travelers clogging up the PreCheck line and airport shuttles (definitely me).

It translates thusly: I go on business trips where the major elements are paid for by my company because I’m there to do a lot of work, but I always manage to find a free hour or evening to pay for my own fun shopping trip , meal or spa visit. And I’m cranky in the airport.

How you market to a leisure-adjacent traveler is anyone’s guess, but keep an eye on me and my fellow leisure-adjacents. There are more of us out there than you think.

Let me know what new trends you’re noticing in traveler types. Email meor find me on Twitter or LinkedIn

The opinions expressed in this column do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Hotel News Now or CoStar Group and its affiliated companies. Bloggers published on this site are given the freedom to express views that may be controversial, but our goal is to provoke thought and constructive discussion within our reader community. Please feel free to contact an editor with any questions or concern.

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