Expect to spend more time bonding with Susie from accounts over a fire pit this year as corporate retreats head deeper into the woods.
Future of Work
As organizations start to embrace distributed work and virtual meetings, the corporate travel and meetings sectors are preparing for change. Read Skift’s ongoing coverage of this shift in business travel behavior through the lens of both brands and consumers.
The great outdoors called during Covid, and corporations answered.
Activities like forest bathing, outdoor tubs and fire pits won’t be going away anytime soon as operators report continued interest from businesses looking for corporate retreats.
Plenty of travel companies focusing on nature and wellbeing profited from global Covid travel restrictions, and managed to capture new corporate business, hosting retreats for employees or catering to remote workers.
While the pandemic tourism boost to less-crowded locations is slowing down, corporate momentum remains.
Cabin rental startup Getaway said the high demand it experienced throughout 2020 and 2021 continued into 2022, as travelers look to spend more time in nature.
The company opened 10 new outposts in the U.S. last year, including Orlando, Detroit and Milwaukee, with locations offering amenities like outdoor tubs and robes for forest bathing.
Guests also booked longer stays than in previous years, and it plans on launching its corporate retreats and “wellness nights” for companies to tap into this year.
Businesses can “buy out” sites, while it allow a company to buy 50 “wellness nights” upfront and award them to employees throughout the year.
“Both programs are in the early stages, but Getaway has seen positive momentum for both,” a spokesperson said.
Raus, meanwhile, launched during the pandemic with a focus on remote and flexible work, alongside ecotourism and the prioritization of mental health. Expensive hotels are driving business too.
“We are seeing a continuously growing demand from corporates seeking breaks from the daily grind,” said co-founder Julian Trautwein. “Inflation and the rising costs of travel have recently pushed more companies to consider nearby destinations for retreats.”
And even though Raus is primarily a leisure hospitality concept, he said the company is almost fully booked across its locations during weekdays.
This week, Starwood Capital revealed a new hotel brand focused on the outdoor sector, with properties offering parking lots with electric generators for recreational vehicles.
Into the Woods
“Quirky” pursuits like Forest bathing are growing in popularity, according to Expedia.
“This is what travelers are looking for, something that is very different,” said Hari Nair, global senior vice president and general manager of lodging marketplace, speaking at Skift Megatrends in January.
Digital open-air marketplace Campsited, which has 270,000 accommodation sites, is also now looking to attract more remote workers, incentivizing companies and freelance workers to book. Its bookings increased by 80 percent in 2022.
“While the final balance between fully remote, full-time, and hybrid working models is still being played out, we see the growth in flexible working policies as an important new segment for our industry,” said Finan O’Donoghue, founder and CEO.
“Time in the open-air and closer to nature benefits everyone and is more important for people than ever before. That’s why we’re actively working with our property partners to enable people to stay, work, and play anywhere in the open air.”
Campsited operates in 35 countries, and is backed by Motley Fool Ventures and Enterprise Ireland.
Research from the Global Wellness Institute predicts the wellness market will grow 10 percent annually through 2025 as consumer values change.
But the travel industry in particular is racing ahead with Frankenstein-like experiments, embedding generative artificial intelligence into things like personalized itinerary recommendations and travel guides. Fake reviews are probably coming soon.
But there’s one company that was in the right place at the right time in 2021, and that’s Amadeus.
It signed a global strategic partnership with Microsoft two years ago to “deliver new products and solutions to create new travel experiences.”
And Microsoft has just announced a multi-year, multi-billion dollar investment into OpenAI, which makes ChatGPT. On Wednesday Microsoft revealed it was now super-charging its Teams product with the ChatGPT technology. This opens up a world of opportunities for Amadeus, as it’s plugged into Teams — after a recent integration into Microsoft’s wider 365 platform.
Amadeus tech execs were already pretty excited by the possibilities last year, including upcoming travel features coming to LinkedIn.
But this new Teams Premium product focuses on meetings, alongside everyday tasks, automating meeting notes, recommended tasks and meeting templates.
Is there scope for ChatGPT to begin booking trips, or sourcing the best locations for group meetings? Can the new live language translations be applied to travel consultants? An ecosystem of startups have emerged over the past few years, which have been embraced by the larger travel companies. For some, ChatGPT may be more a threat than opportunity.
10-Second Corporate Travel Catch-Up
Who and what Skift has covered over the past week: Alaska Airlines, Aviasales for business, Connexus Travel, Flybe, Global Business Travel Association, Google, Heathrow Airport, Hong Kong, Iberia, Mastercard, Mondee, Ryanair, Schiphol Airport, Seattle Convention Center, TripActions.
Mondee Launches Affiliate Program
Travel tech firm Mondee, which has just bought Orinter, is launching an affiliate program. The Mondee Affiliate Network will be targeted at travel experts, gig workers and agencies, giving them “enhanced revenue opportunities and tools designed to increase profitability, expand their product line-up, and stay competitive in the ever-evolving market.” Suppliers benefit from efficient management of their closed user group content and targeted distribution, it added. The launch follows the announcement of a tie-up with affinity program manager outfit Arthur J. Gallagher & Co in February last year.
Embruse Links Carbon to Expenses
Expense platform Emburse has a new alliance with GreeMko, to help companies meet their environmental, social, and corporate governance commitments and achieve more sustainable travel. The data will help companies guide travel policies and identify the most sustainable options. Once an expense is entered into Emburse Captio, the information will be converted into tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent, leveraging data supplied by GreeMko — a method Skift highlighted in its Megatrend earlier this year. “We’ve entered a new era of business travel, and the need for sustainability is even more critically important than before. Yet just like other areas of accounting in a business, if carbon emissions are not tracked, they’re not being managed,” said Emburse CEO Eric Friedrichsen.
Reed & Mackay Offers Detailed Emission Tracking
Corporate travel agency Reed & Mackay is partnering with Squake to make sustainable travel more accessible for its clients through enhanced sustainability data. Travel bookers and travelers will be able to compare flights based on enhanced carbon performance data, including aircraft type, load factors and routing, select hotels by sustainability performance ratings, and select green ground transportation based on fuel, engine and car type.
CWT Boosts Support for Event Planners
CWT is launching a collaboration tool for event planners and chat support for attendees. A new online collaboration tool will let clients look at a web page on their screen, mark up changes and share them with the agency’s meeting division. During a pilot last year, the tool helped a global technology cut down the time to build event websites by 20-30 percent. Meanwhile it’s added a live chat support to its portfolio of attendee engagement and management services. “A great attendee experience starts well before the event itself,” said Rachel Lunderborg, senior director, global process and technology, CWT Meetings & Events. Both features are available to customers worldwide at no extra cost.
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