by: Tim Blackwell
Changing travel demands continue to redefining a property’s vacation rental marketing strategy. Gearing messaging on online channels and websites toward travelers who mix business with rest and relaxation is one way properties are trying to keep pace.
“Flexcations” or “bleasure” trips – week-long or longer junkets incentivized by a good WIFI signal and a change of scenery – are the latest targets for the vacation rental industry. Travelers with flexible work arrangements dictated by the pandemic are taking their laptops to vacation spots seeking the perfect cocktail of pleasure and business. And property managers have a new opportunity to add new bookings, especially as the industry enters off-peak season.
Because of COVID-19 and technology, the line between home life and work is eroding. Working remotely is no longer taboo for many employers.
Travelers are seizing opportunities to find new opportunities to park at a desk looking over the beach or at the mountains for their next Zoom call. Mainstream and boutique hotels are transforming bedrooms into workspaces with a place to rest your head. Booking platforms are following suit by highlighting spaces otherwise tabbed for vacations as work-friendly rentals.
Booking.com recently launched its Work-Friendly Program, and eligible properties that meet office-like criteria receive a special badge and get special billing in guest searches. WIFI, telephone, printers and cable connections are co-existing on amenity lists with cycling, water parks, tennis courts, winery tours and shopping.
Spain’s Canary Islands aren’t just promoting tourism but have a campaign going to attract 30,000 teleworkers to settle on the island for the short-term. Sitting on a balcony overlooking the seas while working away on a laptop has a unique appeal.
Vacation rental and short-term housing property managers can appeal to this new breed of traveler by promoting work-friendly properties to fill gaps in bookings. In many cases, it’s as simple as promoting services and amenities that are already inside advertised properties.
The shift in demand likely isn’t short-term. Given the indelible marks left on the world economy by the pandemic, the demand for work-friendly leisure spaces is likely to continue.
Following are five work-friendly best practices that property managers can deploy when marketing online to “bleisure” and “flexcation” travelers:
Property and Amenity Presentation
The property needs to have the look and feel of a place to get work done. Home-type accommodations (apartments, guest houses, bed-and-breakfasts, etc.) are ideal to provide guests with a comfortable work/play environment. A dedicated desk or table, ideally next to a wall outlet, is a must. The desk should have adequate space and a comfortable chair, and might even be stocked with a notepad and a few pencils or pens. A complimentary mouse pad promoting the property is useful and leaves a lasting impression.
Provide Reliable WIFI and Communications
Dependable connectivity is high on the list of searches for work-friendly rentals. Travelers today demand a reliable internet connection, and it’s particularly critical if the guest will be doing business. The wireless system must be able to handle the simultaneous use of multiple devices, and the home should have outlets inside and out. The ability for a guest to work comfortably outdoors is a plus. Added bonuses include a printer stocked with paper and a flat screen TV with news- and business-related channel packages.
Seamless Booking and Stay Practices
Because many employees are already working from home and don’t have to go to an office, longer stays are becoming more appealing. Reservation and vacation rental booking software that provides flexibility in length of stay pays dividends. Also, end-to-end booking should be available to guests online, allowing them to reserve, pay and get a receipt quickly and easily on their mobile devices.
Promote Beds, Baths and Other Necessities
It’s not uncommon for co-workers to seek a work-away stay together. Properties with multiple bedrooms and baths, as well as large living spaces, have an advantage here. Consider a large table in the living or dining room where workers can collaborate. Also, stock the home with hospitality essentials (soap, towels, shampoo, etc.) and emphasize safety by installing fire extinguishers, smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms.
Don’t Forget Nearby Attractions and Dining
All work and no play makes the “flexcation” or “bleisure” trip too much like being home. Remember, travelers are looking to combine work with a little fun and excitement, so give them the same social highlights you would if you were advertising the property to tourists. Promote local attractions, dining and entertainment venues – even a scenic drive or walking trails – that will help round out the day for your guests.
Property managers have a great opportunity to increase bookings as workers seek vacation or leisure destinations to combine work with pleasure. In many cases, most of the essentials for this new style of vacation rental marketing are already in place. Promoting work-friendly homes, apartments and other accommodations can fill gaps in the calendar and boost revenue.
Kigo provides the automation, sophistication and hospitality-centric solutions for property managers to enhance the guest experience. Learn more about Kigo.