As people are turning to domestic travel for a change of scenery, more and more of us are also looking to work away from home. How can accommodation providers in Britain capitalise on the growth of workations?
The pandemic lit a fire under digital transformation. Decisions and changes around processes, that prior to the crisis may have taken months or even years, were made overnight. Offices closed and lots of companies and business functions became fully remote.
Official UK ONS data shows that in April 2020, 46.6% of people in employment did at least some of their work from home, of those 86% did so as a result of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Holidays were cancelled and people were prevented from travelling. Literally confined to their own homes for long periods of time, those that were furloughed or working from home had nowhere to go, no escape from their four walls.
As the restrictions were relaxed allowing for domestic travel, a staycation boom echoed across the UK. A boom that British self-catering holidays provider Hoseasons expects to continue for some time. Their research undertaken in the autumn of 2021 showed 83% of those who took a staycation this year hope to do so again in 2022.
As the pandemic dust was still settling, people questioned one long-standing parameter of work: physical location. If we’ve done several years working remotely, do we ever need to go back to a physical place of work? Do we need an office?
For many, this question went further - if I can work remotely, why does this need to be limited to my home? If I can work remotely, can I combine a holiday with my work?
The rise of the workation
Previously the territory of the digital nomad, ‘workations’ have hit the mainstream. 24 percent of people say they are able to ‘work from anywhere’ – with that number rising to 46 percent for those aged 18-34. An increasing number of people planned to combine work with travel in the future at 47 percent, up from 18 percent in December 2020.
Workations allow remote workers to take extended holidays without using up their annual leave allowance and still get paid. The only drawback is that you actually do have to work while you’re away. But in and around work, you have the ability to explore new places and try new things.
How to attract the workation market
With so many people now able to work remotely, the workation market potential is vast and something many travel businesses have latched onto. The barriers to international travel easing and international travel businesses, so how might UK travel businesses attract this type of holidaymaker?
Workationers have a different set of needs to your standard holidaymaker. They need a level of connectivity beyond the basic wifi, a comfortable and practical place to set up their laptop, plug in and make video calls.
Workationers have a different set of needs to your standard holidaymaker.
Think about which parts of your existing solutions can cater for workations. Think about how you might pull together and reframe your offer to fit the needs of the workationer. Tweak your offer and make sure it’s targeted and prominent.
Think about your location, if your offer is rural you may want to seek to attract those who want a relaxing escape - a change of pace from the city, those who want to experience the country pub after they’ve finished work, or take a walk and drink in the views. Equally, there are others who want a more bustling experience that a city can offer them.
Here are a few examples of how established travel businesses reframed their existing propositions to attract the workationer.
How brands are reframing their propositions for the workation-er
Workspaces by Hilton - https://www.workspacesbyhilton.com/ - was launched early into the pandemic. It not only offers workationers a work/holiday balance, but their main focus was on day use workspaces, for people who may have a less-than-ideal home setup. With an emphasis on comfort and their food and beverage offer, Hilton’s proposition allowed their business to access and monetise a hyper local market at a time of huge disruption to their international traveller markets.
Workspaces by Hilton
TUI Workations - TUI was a little later to the workation party due to international restrictions on travel, but recognized the opportunity in the emerging workation market https://www.tui.co.uk/destinations/info/workation. The TUI proposition delivery is a bit more clumsy than Hilton’s, but it certainly sparks enough interest to get bookers to think about the potential.
Workation startups - At the same time a number of startups took the workation concept and have built their entire proposition around it, examples including:
How businesses can build on this travel trend
The workcation trend represents a significant financial opportunity for the domestic travel market. But with your domestic and international competitors also aware of this, how might you compete?