While many companies are yearning for the days of intra-office camaraderie to return once COVID-19 is behind us, it’s becoming increasingly clear that remote work will become a permanent fixture for many people’s work lives. Much has already been discussed about how this trend will affect hotels going forward, but there’s one other implication here that can help salespersons set up lucrative programs for business travelers – that is, corporate contracts geared for the ‘supercommuter’.
We’ve all witnessed the real estate market undergo a profound shift away from urban centers to the booming, and often cheaper, suburban and exurban abodes where the prospects of more space per square foot (and less perceived contact with other people) abound. Since March 2020, professionals from numerous sectors have been enabled to upgrade to a larger footpad far away or simply hunker down at the cottage due to changes in a company’s work-from-home policies and deeper rural penetration of speedier internet services.
For some time in late 2021 or 2022, though, many company policies will revert back to pre-pandemic conditions, compelling people to return to the nine-to-five grind at a central locale. After all, most of us are suffering from videoconferencing fatigue while larger corporations are recognizing some of productivity losses associated with a remote workforce – namely, a lack of effective collaboration. Still, various employers will keep their work-from-home policies in place, both to limit viral spread as well as lower operating costs like rent.
Enter the supercommuter, a term denoting a professional who journeys well over an hour (possibly over two hours) to reach a given destination, often in an urban center, for work, but only at an infrequent rate of once per week or twice a month. With such a long drive or train ride, the return trip may be too much to undertake following a long, grueling day at a physical office location. Instead, wouldn’t it be better if the parent company hoisted said employee up at a nearby hotel for the night, thus allowing the fatigued worker to hit the road with fresh eyes the following morning?
While this may seem to be just another use case within the purview of a general corporate rate agreement, it’s important to highlight what differentiates the supercommuter from other guests within the business segment. As a start, many of these long-haul travelers will be arriving at their respective offices via their own personal vehicles in lieu of a car service to and from airports or train stations. Hence, such amenities as free parking (or vouchers), valet and snacks for the road should be packaged into a rate to make it more attractive.
Secondly, in all but a few cases supercommuters will be visiting their own places of business for collaborative sessions rather than dropping in on clients’ offices for training seminars or prospective clients to give a sales pitch. This slight change in modality may necessitate higher demand for office spaces within hotels that can facilitate small group projects.
As an example, a late afternoon brainstorm in a downsized company headquarters may spill over into the evening hours. For a change of scenery, several members then decide to regroup back at the supercommuter’s hotel suite, assembling for a roundtable discussion in a connected room or a meeting venue downstairs that can be conveniently booked by the hour via an app.
As hotels search for ways to reinvigorate this stagnant segment, appealing to the needs of the supercommuter may be one possibility that works in tandem with or mutually exclusive to the currently in vogue programs focusing on working from a hotel (WFH). From that previous scenario, you can thus see how a WFH rethink of your suites or connected rooms can have legs beyond the immediate behaviors associated with our current pandemic state of mind.
While this niche traveler disposition is obviously not a gamechanger in any means, the near future of successful hotels will be marked by finding those pockets of revenue during the industry’s gradual return to healthy occupancy numbers. A small win is still a win. If you happen to own or operate an urban hotel looking to negotiate some new corporate contracts, then factoring in the specific desires of the supercommuter may help you get the business.