The Silk Road and the Spice Road have developed over the centuries as key trade routes. Today, a hospitality expert believes digital nomads are exhibiting similar new travel patterns that depend on their nationality. Hotel companies have everything to gain if they can discover them.
Central and South America in particular are hotspots for remote workers, according to a senior Selina executive, speaking Wednesday at Skift’s Future of Lodging forum.
“They intersect and move,” said Sam Khazary, the company’s senior vice president of global development. “We have almost figured out these travel routes.”
He cited Panama as an example.
“A lot of people in Israel spend a lot of time on the west coast of Panama. I don’t know why, it’s been like that for 35 years. It is what it is, right? There are some interesting travel dynamics,” he said during the “How Changes in Lifestyle and Work Will Reshape Hospitality” panel discussion.
Fortunately, two-thirds of Selina’s portfolio is in Central and South America, and Khazary was just one of many hospitality leaders looking to tap into the rich network of digital nomads.
Under the subtext “Great Merging” of the two-day forum in New York, other experts discussed how the travel industry is reacting to consumers increasingly mixing the way they work, socialize and to travel.
Business expenses will come back
Search volumes on metasearch website Kayak, for example, revealed longer dwell times, its CEO and co-founder revealed.
“Traditional business travel won’t rebound, but spending will,” Steve Hafner told the audience on Wednesday. “We want to help the transition of consumer behavior.”
Longer stays reflect a revival of business travel that mixes business and leisure travel and Tyler Morse, President and CEO of MCR Hotels, who joined Hafner for the discussion “What’s Next for Hotels as They Stay Ahead of Consumer Demands” at the forum, pointed out that 40% of stays with Airbnb now last longer than 30 days.
This compares to 20% in September last year.
Airbnb also introduced a new split-stay feature this week that allows guests booking trips of a week or more to split trips. However, Morse pointed out that not everyone wants to stay at an Airbnb. “I don’t want to take a key under the kitty litter and find out my bed is an air mattress on the floor,” he joked.
However, while he agreed that business spending would pick up, he thinks patterns will revert to pre-pandemic patterns.
Another forum poster revealed that stays now average 4.5 months at his company’s apartments. And 60% of customers end up extending their stay.
“It’s a sticky product,” said Alex Chatzieleftheriou, CEO and co-founder of Blueground. It operates 7,000 apartments, but aims to increase that number to 40,000 by 2025.
Meanwhile, Highgate CEO Arash Azarbarzin also pointed to the so-called bleisure trend in his company’s portfolio.
“We believe this summer is going to be the best summer we’ve ever had,” he said, adding that there was no “recession ahead for the travel industry.”
There was even talk of boycotting online travel agencies at Skift’s Future of Lodging forum, as MCR’s Morse argued with Hafner onstage over distribution tactics.
But that may turn out to be unwise advice as new types of travel agencies emerge that specialize in connecting remote workers with suitable hotels.
A Dutch startup, Remote Dream, even managed to get airtime on Dragons’ Den. This is a sign of how quickly the phenomenon of remote working is becoming widespread.
The online travel agency, which only launched in January this year, is aimed at digital nomads and went live in the Netherlands on Monday. Founder Joeri Nanov made his case in front of investors and managed to secure just over $100,000 from two of the dragons.
“It was the biggest day for website visitors and bookings,” he said.
Nanov is now thinking about the next step. “We’re starting to build a community, so you can meet other remote workers in those places, proving more information about visas and insurance,” he said, which isn’t too much. different from Hostelworld’s new community app.
“We try to be the one-stop-shop for remote workers,” he added. He relies on travel tech company Impala to help with some of the heavy lifting, as he needed to be bookable without having to integrate with countless property management systems.
“In the past, it was difficult for startups to break into the travel market, to pay for integrations,” said Caroline Hudack, chief marketing officer of Impala. “With consumer travel habits changing so much, there is a real rise in niche online travel agencies.”
She cited other travel websites specializing in hotels that appeal to architecture enthusiasts, and another for wedding planners.
“If you look at Airbnb’s filters, that’s generally how the market is going,” added Hudack, who was previously the home-sharing platform’s Europe, Middle East and Africa marketing director. “It gives hotels the ability to connect with new travel sellers.”
Meanwhile, Nanov said he was finalizing another $100,000 investment from a Dutch bank. “We can truly say we’re one step closer to helping people get out of the office and work remotely from inspiring places around the world,” he wrote in a LinkedIn post.
Airbnb said this week that more than 800,000 people had visited its careers page after announcing that employees could live and work anywhere.
This is a clear sign that a huge market is waiting for Remote Dream and others.
10 second catch up on business trips
Who and what Skift covered last week: Airbnb, Amadeus, Choice Hotels, Cvent, Expedia, Flight Centre, Getaround, Hyatt, IHG, Saber, Standard International.
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