Relocating employees for work could be big business after the pandemic, if travel companies can handle the extra pressure governments and big organizations place on them.
A fledgling UK booking platform has won a contract from the U.S. government to help it book short-term accommodations for federal agency workers, signaling a resilient sector for travel companies to turn to.
Short-term rental specialist AltoVita, which specializes in corporate housing, has been selected by the U.S. Federal Employee Relocation Center as its official booking platform, replacing a relocation company specialist. The center itself is part of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and it works with several federal agencies, “dedicated to supporting the recruitment, retention, and relocation of your most important asset: your people,” it says on its website.
Corporate housing is a highly regulated area, but offers opportunities for growth for travel companies in the face of diminished traditional business travel.
The U.S. Agriculture Department, for example, is now looking at “a broader array of new remote work policies, remote duty stations and other flexible schedule options,” according to reports. The department employs a total of 100,000 people in the U.S. and abroad.
Outside the public sector, short-term rental specialists stand to benefit from new flexible work patterns as organizations sell their offices, or redesign them for hybrid use. Employees will increasingly look for short-term stays to work on projects with colleagues, or be situated nearer their company’s headquarters.
But companies, and governments, will scrutinize them because these aren’t just leisure breaks; organizations want to ensure employees are happy and feel safe in their temporary homes, which often need to include extra features like kitchens or home offices.
Companies need to do their homework. In AltoVita's case, the contract reflects a growing trend in corporate travel management: bespoke is the way forward.
The Federal Playing Field
There are some concerns government spending could be cut back in the wake of the billions of dollars spent on financial aid and support programs related to the pandemic.
However in the U.S., bipartisan legislation was introduced by Representatives Bill Posey and Charlie Crist that would require federal “per diem” rates to not drop below those set for 2021 for 2022 and 2023. Per diem rates are the daily amounts employees are entitled to spend.
In 2020, the U.S. General Services Administration set a per diem rate of $151 for