2021: Year of the workation?


For many of us, 2020 has been the year of lockdown holiday daydreams. In research commissioned by Booking.com, a huge 95% of their respondents reported having spent time looking for vacation inspiration during the weeks of restriction. 

Unsurprisingly, the poll into our changing travel habits also revealed a continued shift towards staying local. So-called “doorstep delights” offer both cost and time savings and are perceived as safer and more sustainable. Furthermore, our rediscovery of “the simpler things in life” is reflected in Booking.com’s reported spike in searches related to “hiking”, “clean air”, and “nature”. 

So, is the lively city break off of our radar for the next couple of years? Over half (56%) of those surveyed will seek out more rural and off-the-beaten-track experiences. Alongside a renewed interest in the natural world, hygiene and safety concerns also undoubtedly play a role here as we continue to look to socially distance. Travellers are less keen on taking public transport and popular attractions will need to find ways to make their visitors feel secure. 

One interesting concept that came up in the research is that of the “workation”. With remote working having entered the mainstream, there’s a large cohort who are no longer tethered to their desks and have a pent-up thirst for travel. What could be intriguing is the blurring of the lines between work and leisure. 

Booking.com predicts that people will look to take longer trips in the future, extending their holiday for an extra week or two to work remotely. Or conversely, factoring in a period of remote working around a planned break. For some, the flexibility in work from home roles means there’s nothing to stop them from popping down to the beach with the family for a few hours at lunch, making up what they need to in the evenings.

This trend could apparently be driven by our desperate desire for a change of scene. Over a third (37%) of travellers have already considered booking somewhere to stay in order to work from a different location. I know of people, frustrated by a year of lost plans and flexible in their commitments, that are considering booking a stay of many months in a location such as the Canary Islands or even South Africa. They would be able to work remotely, the only condition being not to stray too far from GMT!

So, will home office facilities and super-fast WiFi soon be up there in a hotel’s most lucrative offerings? For me, this seems like a safe bet. Smart technologies already meant that we were straying from the traditional 9 to 5, the sweeping behaviour changes heralded by the pandemic have only accelerated this change. At the very least, maybe I can gate-crash friends in the Canaries!

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