The consulting giant hones in on corporate travel and remote work trends in its latest annual tourism outlook, while labor shortages also dominate the year ahead.
Deloitte has placed corporate travel front and center in a new global report, reinforcing the impact remote workers will have on hospitality brands over the coming years.
In particular, there’s potential for suppliers to leverage subscriptions to tap into the growing number of “laptop luggers,” according to one of the report’s authors.
“Typically with a subscription model, the primary barrier has been the ability of frequency of trips,” said Eileen Crowley, Deloitte’s vice chair and U.S. transportation, hospitality and services attest leader. “And with that whole play of remote workers, we see those folks taking more trips during the year, and there could be an opportunity for companies to look at the subscription model, as a way to attract those particular types of travelers.”
The report highlights efforts made by The Mandarin Oriental in Washington, D.C., with its “MOBase” work-living concept — covered by Skift in June last year — as well as Amsterdam-based brand CitizenM, which debuted two subscription plans in October 2020.
These brands, the report argues, target travelers “for whom the lines between work, travel, and everyday life continue to blur. And as suppliers try to recast loyalty in the face of less corporate travel, higher-spending laptop luggers and their particular demands will likely garner more attention in the year ahead.”
A Leisurely Return for the Business Traveler
The new 2022 Deloitte travel outlook: The winding path to recovery report, published Thursday, outlines a handful of other trends to look out for this year and beyond.
As well as the travel industry’s remote work opportunity, it has honed in on corporate travel’s “leisurely return.” Deloitte predicts business travel demand will improve significantly when workers return to offices in greater numbers, enabling more client visits.
The UK last week removed restrictions that enforced work-from-home policies, leading to several banks asking staff to return to offices. However, the report warns that omicron or another variant could lead companies to slow their returns to the office, as happened with the delta variant in the fall of 2021.
Meanwhile, staffing struggles look set to blight the wider recovery, the report suggests.
“The number of openings in the industry are still quite high,” said Crowley. “Some may perceive the long-term career opportunities in hospitality aren’t perhaps as great as other sectors, or maybe there’s better wages, or quality of life. Companies are focused on it now and through 2022, especially as CEOs try and meet travelers’ expectations.”
Deloitte published the report as the American Hotel & Lodging Foundation prepares to launch a campaign to showcase the hospitality sector’s career opportunities, competitive wages, benefits and perks.
As the nationwide labor shortage continues, the foundation hopes its new “A Place to Stay” campaign will help fill the tens of thousands of open jobs across the country. As of October 2021, there were 300,000 fewer workers in the hotel industry than two years prior, Deloitte said in its report.
“Over the past two years, the pandemic has devastated the hospitality industry, wiping out approximately 10 years of job growth,” the American Hotel & Lodging Foundation said. “According to an analysis for AHLA by Oxford Economics, hotels are projected to end 2022 down 166,000 workers — a 7 percent decrease compared to pre-pandemic 2019 levels.”
Skift has also identified The Great Upskilling of Labor as one of its 2022 Megatrends. “Everything from automation of certain features at a hotel like check-in to upskilling existing workers to do more with less are now a routine part of earnings calls for publicly traded travel companies,” said Skift hospitality reporter Cameron Sperance.
Meanwhile, Crowley said the surge in private rentals was one area of the report that jumped out. “What our data was showing was that four in 10 people were introduced to private rentals during the pandemic. And we actually see that most of those first-time travelers are intending to return,” she said. Remote workers were likely to influence this surge, with Covid-related health concerns driving the need for more personal space.
Although subscriptions have long been touted as the next frontier of loyalty, there’s now a new sense of urgency to trial new models to accelerate recovery. This crossover with the corporate travel sector could lead to a breakthrough moment for subscription models.
“Subscriptions are something we’re watching because our perception is that hospitality companies are going to be looking at this differently, and exploring it,” Crowley said. “I honestly don’t think remote work is going away.”
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Photo credit: Deloitte said the lines between work, travel and everyday life continue to blur. Linkedin Sales Solutions / Unsplash