The opinions expressed by the collaborators of Emprenderos are their own.
Historically, the travel industry has been clearly segmented. People traveled for business or pleasure without significant overlap between the two, and work-from-anywhere policies were rare or non-existent. Therefore, customer behavior was predictable, and as companies learned more about their customers, and over time they learned a lot, they created products tailored to a specific group.
Leisure travelers wanted a place to disconnect from work, so companies developed concepts such as resorts with amenities for different profiles, from luxury travelers to budget-conscious adventurers. This also accelerated marketing efforts around popular tourist destinations, which were reinforced with special offers and promotions.
On the other hand, business travelers needed a different set of features, such as a central location to optimize their mobility within a city, elegant spaces to host business partners, such as conference rooms, cafes and spa centers , and to expedite payments and invoicing in accordance with the company’s accounting requirements.
Related: Travel trends every business should know
With the wider adoption of remote work, a new trend has risen that combines business and leisure. Now there are more “bleisure” trips, without a clear differentiation by destination or purpose of the trip, but rather a fusion and interpenetration of services and products based on the behavior of certain customer groups.
Both travel “hardware” (destinations, accommodations, flights) and travel “software” (services, payments, marketing and promotion) have been mixed and “blended”. This has created a new market segment that traditional travel companies want to capture.
Here are three ways the business travel industry is being redefined and some potential trends and synergies we could see in the coming years.
Related: 6 Secret Tools for Flying First Class (Without Paying Full Fare)
1. Everyone will have to be more flexible
Work from anywhere policies have increased flexibility for everyone.
A group of remote workers from San Francisco who flew to San Diego for a week-long pleasure trip may have enjoyed the city so much they decided to stay for a month. A London team visiting clients in Australia chose to extend their trip and report back to headquarters. In their free time, of course, they will enjoy all the natural wonders that the country has to offer.
The above scenarios are just two of the endless potential ways that employees who can work from anywhere are now joining the ranks of digital nomads, if only temporarily. But with about 50% of American workers able to work remotely and the number in other countries increasing, it’s a situation that can happen very often.
One thing companies need to understand is that leisure travelers demand flexibility. A Google survey revealed that 85% of travel marketers considered flexibility with bookings and cancellations to be a very important factor.
There are ways in which hospitality companies are adapting to this. CitizenM designed a pioneering hotel membership program, offering a fixed rate at its properties. Airbnb’s flexible search model has increased the number of trips to Europe while having a positive and sustainable impact.
Businesses that will thrive catering to pleasure travelers offer flexibility, along with other must-haves such as affordability and an emphasis on the traveler experience.
Related: 5 Travel Hacks to Increase Productivity on Every Trip
2. Contact, connection and community will be the main business drivers
Businesses that prioritize these three Cs will likely see an increase in their revenue.
contact: People who work from anywhere need good Wi-Fi, a comfortable space to work, and easy access to amenities like power outlets. Having them easily accessible will attract more people to your space.
And if you want to go the extra mile, here’s an idea from WeWork: private cubicles for those who need to take a Zoom call or engage in deep work. Another example is Delta’s project, in partnership with T-Mobile, which aims to introduce free and fast Wi-Fi on most planes by the end of 2024.
Comes paired with contact connection. And here, I don’t mean WiFi.
One of the challenges many digital nomads face is a lack of community which can lead to loneliness and disconnection. The need for human connection is paramount, especially when working long hours staring at a screen.
Therefore, travel service providers must emphasize the relevance of spaces that foster community, collaboration and social interaction.
Putting a good value on the connection results in the third C, which is community. When people feel inspired by a hospitality brand, they will want to stay longer or return more often. If the company has sister properties in other parts of the world, they will likely prioritize your brand.
3. Expect greater collaboration between sectors
Before its pre-IPO test, WeWork’s founders developed an idea called WeLive. At the time it was seen as unpleasant. Still, today, a concept like this is attractive to remote workers traveling for the first time, giving them immediate access to a community.
Other brands, like Selina, have taken advantage of this, building hostels and co-working spaces to diversify their revenue between people booking accommodation, people booking workspace and people booking both.
Although Selina was born with digital nomadism in mind, we can expect big hotel names like Hilton, Marriott and IHG to chart a project that tries to capture this attractive market niche. Concepts such as Yotel or the Moxy, developed by Marriott, which has dynamic lobbies that encourage human interaction, are already targeting this demographic group, and we should not be surprised if we see synergies between established companies in the market hospitality with those they have emerged in the field of coworking or shared office to offer the best bleisure experience.
Related: Ready for Takeoff: 7 Travel Tips for Remote Workers
As the world continues to adapt to the reality of remote work, more trends will likely emerge. However, the concept of bleisure is something that is here to stay, and it is something that travel providers will need to consider in their growth and development. Since this type of traveler tends to be very community-oriented and has strong brand loyalty, companies that can effectively capture the bleisure segment can gain an advantage in today’s increasingly crowded and competitive market.