Hotels across the UAE are looking to capitalise on new trends that have emerged as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, especially in the business travel segment, hospitality experts said.
One such trend that has grown in popularity since the start of the pandemic is the workation segment, a concept which is loosely defined as a vacation that combines leisure with full-time working.
“Covid-19 has completely disrupted traditional office culture and the hospitality sector has been quick to offer alternative solutions for those looking to combine working from home with leisure time. The introduction of the workation concept is not just a novel idea, it’s about making adjustments to meet the new market demands, allowing those who are not currently working from their office to enjoy a luxury hospitality experience whilst continuing their work commitments,” said Mark Kirby, COO of Emaar Hospitality.
Tim Cordon, area senior vice president for the Middle East & Africa at Radisson Hotel Group, noted that even before major cities across the globe instituted lockdowns early last year, many companies started telling their employees to work from home. And while many people relished in the sudden freedom of making their own schedule and not having to commute, others lost the ability to focus on productivity amid the countless distractions of home.
“Especially young families, and those with children had to adapt, because conducting video conferences and calls while a toddler is running around singing and just generally being a normal two-year-old, can be emotionally draining,” he said.
With this in mind, he revealed that Radisson Hotel Group decided to focus on a solution – Hybrid Rooms that combine the facilities of a state-of-the-art office with the comforts of a superior hotel room to create a productive, dedicated, and quiet workspace for the business traveler, leisure guest, and local day-guest alike.
“Our Hybrid Rooms offer easy connectivity to second screen devices, video-conferencing facilities, wireless enabled keyboard, mouse and loudspeaker, printing services, stationery, unlimited coffee and tea, access to on-site wellness facilities, and many other benefits,” he said. “The Hybrid Solutions are currently available across select hotels in the Middle East, Europe and Africa, and we continue the roll-out through 2021 in order to better meet the rapid lifestyle changes of today’s needs.”
Nicolas Mayer, global industry leader for Tourism & Hospitality at PwC, agreed that one type of international visitor arrivals that may still not recover substantially in 2021 is business travel. “Currently, the hurdles to business travel are often still quite cumbersome, either in the destination, or more often, upon return to the home country, in the form of extended quarantines or testing regimes. Many companies are also looking at sources of savings, and business travel expenses is one area where many global players have decided to realise some of these savings. We may see in the long run that some types of business travel never recover to pre-covid levels.”
“We will however see a sustained increase of long term visits, from visitors that chose a certain region as a temporary home from where to work and play,” he explained. “They will choose locations in which they trust, and where they believe that they will be able to experience the most optimal mix of professional opportunities and leisure offerings. The new remote worker visa options offered in Dubai will accelerate that trend, and we will see significant growth in the workation segment.”
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