Catering to a new class of traveler: The remote worker

Technology constantly changes the hotel landscape and that is apparent when we notice recent trends such as the persistent remote work trend that has completely altered the environment in which many of us do our jobs. According to a Gallup article written near the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, which launched the work-from-home phenomenon into common practice, 54 percent of millennials working remotely thrive in their new environment compared to 47 percent of those who work on-site, and 74 percent said they do not ever want to return to the office five days a week.

So, it is not surprising that the next generation of hospitality leaders is carefully examining this trend to see how hotels can adjust their business models to take advantage of this new type of traveler, who can bring their work laptops with them wherever they go. Success in hotel management means anticipating the needs of your guests and transforming their experience accordingly. In this winning blog post from the Spring 2022 HFTP/MS Global Hospitality Business Student Blog Competition, global hospitality business Master of Science graduate student Florencia Laber explored how major hotel brands around the world have strategically approached the emerging digital nomad trend. What she found is that global hotel chains initiated programs designed with remote work in mind, often offering additional benefits for their loyalty members. 

Taking a work call by the Caribbean beach hearing the sound of the ocean and getting your tan on? How about at a French café listening to jazz and enjoying a croissant? Or maybe in the Swiss alps sipping on a hot chocolate by the fireplace? The options of where to work are now endless. With the COVID-19 pandemic, behaviors have shifted immensely to remote/hybrid working. This allows people to travel wherever they desire and fulfill their role in any destination around the world (as long as there is high-speed Wi-Fi, of course).

The digital nomad trend has been present for a while but increased tremendously in the past two years since people can take their laptops anywhere. Luckily, now in the 21st century, we live in a technology-centered world which allows for more flexibility and adaptability in the workplace.

Meeting Remote Workers' Needs

Hotels in particular have been monetizing remote/hybrid work. In early 2020, hotel occupancy took a deep downward turn with millions of empty rooms around the world. Hotels noticed this challenge as an area for opportunity and came up with creative solutions for remote workers such as office for a day and extended stays. The pandemic has caused a shift in how people view and use hotels. Working from home can become redundant or distracting. From spending a few hours a day in a hotel room as an office or staying an extended period of time living in a hotel room, there are possibilities for all workers.

Instead of focusing on the traditional business client, hotels are moving to adapt to the new remote worker’s needs and interests.

WorkSpaces by Hilton offers rooms for daily use that provide the right environment for productivity, while Hilton Honors members get special perks during their stay. Work Anywhere with Marriott offers a day pass in featured destinations and additional benefits for Marriott Bonvoy members. Work from Hyatt has various packages available from office for the day, one-night stay, extended stays of 5+ nights, or long-term stays of 29+ nights at various locations around the world. The citizenM Corporate Subscription allowed guests to pay a flat monthly fee and stay three nights per month in any of the brand’s hotels around the world. Packages include breakfast, a welcome drink, three hours of meeting room usage and unlimited “living room” use. Accor Commute and Stay give guests a city to be based and work out of with flexible cancellation and greater discounts. Accor loyalty program members receive further discounts enhancing value.

As we can see, hotels are bumping up their creativity to attract the new type of traveler: remote workers. They are being strategic in their approach to generate more revenue and increase occupancy during a time that the typical leisure or business guest may be skeptical or unable to travel as they did before.

Working remotely is now quite commonplace and this shift has been advantageous for the hospitality industry. The digital nomad trend is here to stay in the long term and hotels can continue to benefit from innovative offers and packages.

Frank Wolfe is the CEO of Hospitality Financial and Technology Professionals.