Travelers are booking stays for a month or more — here’s why

Aug 13, 2020

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“Six months ago, we were seeing the weekend getaway — what we call the microvacation,” said Misty Belles during a travel industry press conference on Monday.

But Belles, the managing director of global public relations at Virtuoso, a luxury travel agency network, says traveler behavior has flipped.

“That [trend] has now become the weeks-long getaway,” she said, explaining that “people are working remotely, kids are not necessarily going back to school and there’s no rush to get back home.”

Related: School’s out: How the pandemic could change the way your family travels

Afterward, Belles told TPG in an email that this new landscape — where the places “we work and live are now one and the same” — has “opened the door for people to base themselves from anywhere.”

“If microvacations were born from a lack of time, extended stays are the answer to a strained work-life balance brought on by incessant Zooming,” Belles explained. “The convenience of working from the kitchen table has transformed into annoyance, and people are tired of searching for an uninterrupted nook or cranny to either work or stake out an inch of personal space. Most long-term vacation requests are from clients looking to escape crowds and reclaim some normalcy in their lives.”

Philippe Zuber, COO and incoming CEO of Kerzner International (the developer and operator of luxury brands such as One&Only and Atlantis), also commented on the shift to “really extended stays” during the press conference.

“It’s not unusual,” Zuber observed, “to have a guest asking for 28 days [of vacation].” Instead of staying five nights here and there, or even changing resorts multiple times within a single destination, he said guests are seeking more stability.

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Rethinking vacations

(Photo courtesy of the White Elephant Resort)

For years, travelers were taking short (but frequent) weekend trips to Nantucket.

Now, White Elephant Resorts (which operates properties on the island such as the namesake White Elephant, The Wauwinet and the Jared Coffin House) is seeing guests book stays for over 30 days at a time.

Extended stays are gaining steam all over the country — and abroad. Luxury travel company Inspirato — which has seen reservations lasting 14 days or more increase 65% over 2019 — is seeing longer stays in Vail, Colorado, Los Cabos, Mexico (its two largest markets) and Kiawah Island, South Carolina.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, travelers are showing a greater interest in villas and suites, which often have the amenities necessary (separate living rooms, kitchens) for long-term stays.

Hotels around the globe are even designing packages specifically for travelers who want to work from a beautiful resort instead of their makeshift home office.

So, while some people may be retreating to their summer homes, others are using lengthy stays at resorts and vacation rental properties to the same effect, even hiring private “camp counselors” or nannies so they can get a break from childcare.

The Hyatt Ziva and Zilara properties in the Caribbean, for example, have a generous extended-stay remote working program that includes upgrades to suites or connecting rooms; dedicated, shared office space; high-speed Wi-Fi; on-site IT support; complimentary laundry services; a personal fitness trainer three times per week; educational activities and experiences for kids; complimentary conversational Spanish classes with bilingual instructors and more with a 14-night minimum stay.

In addition to remote work and schooling, travelers are also clearly responding to travel restrictions. Many states are requiring visitors from high-risk areas to quarantine for 14 days. So, in many cases, a quick weekend getaway may simply be off the table until the virus is under control.

Entire countries are even marketing new visas that will help travelers relocate while they work remotely. If you like the idea of an extended stay in, say, Estonia or the Bahamas, you’re in luck.

Related: TPG’s safe travel guide: How to minimize risk on your summer vacation

Pent up demand

The trend may be growing in popularity, but indications of it were appearing as far back as March.

In June, Airbnb co-founder Joe Gebbia told TPG the vacation rental platform had seen an “uptick in long-term stays.” He said people are eager to get out of dense urban areas and escape to more rural places — “not just for a weekend, [but] for a month or more.”

(Photo courtesy of Airbnb)
(Photo courtesy of Airbnb)

The trend was emerging as early as March when many people were just beginning to enter lockdowns.

Within a two-week period of time, people booking long-term rentals (defined as reservations lasting 28 days or longer) within their communities nearly doubled, and there was a 20% increase in long-term stays year-over-year.

Airbnb has responded to the spike in demand by helping hosts market properties for long-term rentals, and by featuring monthly stays for travelers. These rentals typically have more robust amenities (a kitchen and laundry, for example) and discounted pricing.

Related: Everything you need to know about staying at an Airbnb right now

Bottom line

“The work-from-home scenario, combined with distanced learning for children likely continuing into the fall, has opened the door for people to base themselves from anywhere,” Belles said, “whether it’s their city apartment, suburban colonial or a beach in Nantucket.”

Influenced by travel restrictions — and the very real threat of being stranded or quarantined while traveling — remote work, canceled summer camps and distance learning for school-age kids, it makes sense that travelers are eschewing brief weekend getaways.

Instead, they’re turning to vacation rentals, hotels and resorts for a change of scenery that could easily last a month or more, especially with the right amenities and, in some cases, financial incentives for long-term stays.

With so much uncertainty clouding the remainder of 2020 and even 2021, it’s really no surprise that people are packing up their kids and pets, filling up the station wagon and relocating for extended vacations.

Featured photo by OlegAlbinsky/Getty Images.

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