New hospitality trends : "Workation" & Greek hospitality industry, in the post-covid era.
The term "workation" (working vacation) is not new, nor did it come from Covid-19. What emerged from the pandemic is a sharp increase in teleworking. According to all recent surveys by government or private entities worldwide, a significant percentage of this distance, remote work, will remain in the post-covid era. I will not cite research data, as it is more or less, well known to the professionals that keep themselves updated. Consequently, the demand for "Workation" tourism will increase rapidly, in the near future.
There is a confusion here that needs to be cleared up from the beginning. The term "workation" (also called workoliday or woliday in the UK, the United States and in Australia, as well) means leisure tourism, during which the traveler will also be able to work (as he is able to work remotely). This trend has existed for several years, as well as telework, where in some countries its percentage was already over 30% several years before Covid. Percentage that Greece, reached only during the Lockdown period, from 3.5% that was before the pandemic. This is mentioned on purpose. In Greece the cases of accommodation that offer "workation" experience are very few as the term was not known until now due to the fact that it was not a real need of the Greeks themselves, and so we did not provide it as a service, as it alienated us. There is a confusion with the term ‘digital nomads’ which is something completely different that we will deal with, in another article. Also, the term has nothing to do with business travel.
The term "workation" (also called workoliday or woliday in the UK, the United States and in Australia, as well) means leisure tourism, during which the traveler will also be able to work (as he is able to work remotely).
The Greek reality:
The real situation in Greece is that for most people, with the hoteliers included, the familiarity with the term remote-work came with the advent of the pandemic. At the end of the restrictions, there will come the familiarity with "workation" tourism. What is happening so far is the obvious, that has only got to do with business travel. Most hotels (part of them - to be precise) provide to their customers, who travel for business (business trip and not leisure travel), the absolutely necessary to facilitate them during their stay. Work desks in the room (see chest of drawers, in most cases), chair (usually uncomfortable, wooden, more suitable for a clothes hanger), internet connection (often not as fast as it should be), direct dial phone line (not often), printing-photocopying services in the lobby etc. Possibly a business corner or providing a laptop and some office amenities (notebook, pen, etc.). Of course, there are some bright exceptions just to confirm the rule. In short, the first thing that comes to mind are city hotels (and not only) which have customers who travel because the nature of their business requires it. To destinations they usually did not choose but were forced to go. Guests who stay in hotels that they may not have even chosen themselves and may not even have paid themselved for their stay. This is NOT "workation". At least this is definitely, not a new trend.
However, as Greek tourism has shown in recent years that follows, more than ever, all modern trends (I am talking about the professionals of Greek hospitality and not for the goverment), I hope that it will not be long before it starts the necessary processes to absorb some of the created demand.
What is necessary for a hotel to provide a descent “workation” customer experience:
The task of a hotel providing services, to fully meet the requirements of a "workation" customer is not as simple as one might imagine. After all, we are not talking about low-budget customers. This type of vacation, so far at least, is in demand worldwide, mainly by customers with high standards and a similar financial surface and is provided correspondingly, at high prices.
Let's have a look at just a few - indicative - examples, of what we need to consider and provide if we really want a happy "workation" customer:
Starting from the obvious, it is understood that the layout, lightning and architecture of the rooms must provide the necessary comfort to work, while ensuring the privacy of his/her fellow travelers, in the room during working hours. Of course, it includes a decent desktop, with ergonomic chair, good quality P.C, printer, high speed network connection, access to several sockets and charging station, access to VPN environment for the security of transferred data, etc. But what happens when you visit the lobby or the pool lounge? Are there any sockets, charging stations and fast Wi-fi over there? Clearly there should be.
For a client who’s holidaying while working, relaxation and well-being holds an important role. Adjustments to the available Spa services will definitely, be needed to keep up with the requirements of our "working clients". The first and main adjustment will probably be the operating hours of the Spa.
If the customer needs to participate in an online presentation, the business room he will use must be fully equipped with all the relevant equipment for the correct connection and complete solutions for his presentations and business calls.
Let's now think of an imaginary guest, working in his room and just outside his balcony there are 10-20 children, diving in a pool. We automatically wonder if a hotel that is NOT adults-only, can successfully accommodate customers of these requirements. Possibly it is. If it is clearly divided into room blocks with separate facilities per block.
Do we have guest of different nationalities, or we work with specific markets? Matching the working hours of the country of origin with our local time might surprise us. If our clients work at a timetable much different from the local hours, they may need to provide them food and drink with room service during the night. This might be tough are for small hotels that do not have 24-hour service. In Greece there are many small luxury hotels that do not provide 24h room service.
Let's say that the computer on the desktop of a room is satisfactory and we provide our guest a decent laptop if needed. Is this enough or we can make a difference in the details? Amenities have a very important role. But is a notebook and a pen enough? It will probably be more useful to offer a kit that, in addition to the obvious, will even include a power bank, screen cleansing wipes, a usb stick, etc. The list can be as long as we wish, for the extra mile.
Pleasant surprises? No. If all the above are pleasant surprises, we have probably forgotten the basics. That all this is intended to rid the guest of the need to carry them with him on his journey. It is therefore important that we inform him in advance of every detail of all our benefits. This way we will gain his preference for the first reservation. Our reliability and the quality of our services but also the overall experience, will judge, if we will turn the newcomer to a repeated guest.
Overall Experience. The case of "Workation" guests:
Overall experience in the case of "workation" is all the above and much more that cannot be mentioned in a single article. But above all, the most important thing is not to focus only on the part of the client's work but also on the part of leisure. This customer type is not visiting out hotel just to work. He comes for vacation during his work. This means that he will appreciate everything provided to make his working hours easier, but the real purpose of the trip will have been fulfilled if we have not made any “discount” on anything that will help him relax and entertain himself while on work. All the things that we were worried about and taken care of, until the moment we decided to absorb a part of this new target group. Everything that pleases every hotel customer.
* Manos Lιgerakis is a financial advisor & strategic planning consultant with a long professional experience in hotel management.