We are more than 24 months along from the emergence of the COVID pandemic. It's clear to see that it’s been a bumpy time for all those in hospitality and travel. Lockdowns, border restrictions, testing regimes, quarantine, isolation, supply disruption, and labor shortages have grabbed the headlines. This doesn’t tell the whole story. With high hopes for a recovery in 2022, what will tomorrow look like, and how much will have changed?
[This blog is an extract from our latest Special Report, Re-booting Revenue: Refreshing Strategies for 2022 and beyond. Discover what industry experts from around the world think are the trends and opportunities to look out for in 2022. Download today: https://www.duettocloud.com/special-reports/rebooting-revenue-2022]
While much of the core hotel market closed through lockdowns and have seen very mixed demand, driven heavily by leisure guests since summer 2020, the serviced apartment sector has pushed through the pandemic with very healthy occupancies based on a wide mix of customer needs and the most flexible product in accommodation and travel. There are some emerging travel trends that may be here for a while.
Business Travel Reimagined
Initially serviced apartments offered the comfort of a hotel room, combined with the catering facilities to stay away while restaurants and bars were restricted. For short and medium stays, business trips could continue with lower risk and greater security while so much still seemed unknown.
Office routines have certainly changed rapidly over the last two years. Flexible working will change the commute and businesses are trying to find the balance which enables growth and productivity without losing touch as a team. This evolution will change business travel, the old midweek patterns may shift to greater compression on peak nights for hotels. However, the impact of greater environmental awareness will suppress the routine repeated trip travel and may call for extended trips to get more done in one longer visit, rather than multiple, less sustainable, and more expensive return trips. Longer stays get more done and would be better for the environment. This means the expectation on accommodation facilities, value, size, and flexibility will become a greater factor in choice. Will this make up for fewer trips in the hotel market and support the off-peak nights a bit better than before?
The Weekend Is Back!
Another knock-on effect of the shift to flexible working has already emerged. The weekend had for a long time been squeezed into a single Saturday night away. Big pressure on hotel occupancy with much lower demand on shoulder nights. Who wanted to travel on a Friday just to sit on the motorway for hours staring at taillights? The ability to work from anywhere has already started the trend to bring the weekend back! Now you can get to your weekend destination early on a Thursday and work in your spacious apartment or hotel lounge before 5 o’clock ticks round on Friday and you’re good to go! The weekend just got longer by working from anywhere and finding a better balance between work and leisure.
Digital Nomad Revolution
Digital nomads used to be an exclusive little club of entrepreneurs, consultants, and ‘influencers’. Often in glamorous sunny locations, we didn’t really see them in regional UK cities, but that is clearly changing too.
Flexible working and expensive housing are driving people from many walks of life to live-light and bounce around where the work and the mood takes them. So many more people are looking for a life without a mortgage or a lease, where apartments and hotels provide the flexible choice to work, live, study, and move around at will. Flexible long-stay accommodation providers will find an increasing demand for these guests in the years to come.
One thing is clear, the old routines and patterns are not going to be quite the same for some time to come. The time apart will certainly be overtaken with the desire to travel and be back together over time. For the accommodation sector, there is a lot to learn as recovery gets some momentum and our guests evolve.
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