Shift in Strategy: Four Bleisure Must-Haves That Hotel Brands Should Consider

As we continue to notice a rise in blended travel models such as remote work, “bleisure” travel, and full-time nomads, hotel brands will need to rethink everything to cater to these travelers. With nearly 81 percent of business travelers extending their time to include leisure travel actvities and many remote workers taking the chance to work from other destinations for “workcations,” hotels will need to follow the trends set by these categories of travelers and evaluate how they can best serve guests staying at their properties.

With travelers investing in one location for a longer, extended stay, hotels have the opportunity to tailor amenities to provide relaxing experiences, create loyal guests, and entice business travelers with community-wide activations.

Extended Stay Offerings for the Bleisure Traveler Profile

Employees now have more freedom to work from anywhere, and whether they’re traveling for work or traveling somewhere new to work, important aspects to consider are location and price. Affordable and well-placed accomodations are key to attracting and retaining hotel guests. Offering extended-stay options allows for all of the conveniences and comforts of a traditional hotel, while saving consumers additional costs and fees associated with short-term rentals through popular marketplaces.

With extended-stay offerings come interior upgrades for guest units as well. For example, adding an in-room ice maker, stovetop, dishes and silverware, and even a washer and dryer, can not only increase the value of your offerings, but also provide guests with more convenience and comfort when deciding to book a longer stay. This can be a differentiator among competition that increases the functionality of the space.

Amenities that Support Livability

For today’s long-term guests and bleisure travelers, the livability of the local area and the space they’re staying in is a key component. The workplace environment continues to evolve, and for many, their work environment may look like a coffee shop, co-working space or their dining room table. This evolving workplace environment gives lodging providers the opportunity to appeal to the needs of traveling professionals by offering both in-unit and community amenities that are conducive to a productive work environment and allow for ease of extended-stay livability, if needed.

Adding amenities that support a work-from-anywhere lifestyle, such as personal, high-speed WiFi access, subtle interior décor for virtual meetings, quiet workspaces, a printer and more, allows guests to complete tasks in a comfortable environment. On the other hand, amenities that support the leisure side of travel, such as a swimming pool, children’s playground, pickleball courts, an open lawn with public grills, and a recreation center stocked with free weights and exercise equipment, will give guests the convenience of leisure and work activities all in one place.

Additionally, providing guests with access to an efficient marketplace where they can grab a snack on the go, beer or wine to unwind or even a quick meal enhances the livability of your space for the bleisure traveler. Consider developing partnerships with national or local grocery and food delivery services to further provide guests with convenience in one location. These amenities to support livability, combined with the attractions of the surrounding areas, will provide guests with an enhanced experience whether they’re traveling for work, leisure, or both.

Community-Inspired Spaces and Experiences

No matter the reason, traveling means leaving the comforts of home for somewhere and something unexpected—making travel both exciting and nerve-wracking. Bleisure travel provides the opportunity for extended-stay accommodations to present a perfect balance of home and hotel by incorporating elements of convenience, familiarity, and an experience that feels like home away from home. The current environment of extended-stay and bleisure travel is strong, and as more hospitality brands seek to develop perks for these types of travelers, it’s important that hotels provide guests with one essential feeling—community.

Focus your efforts on the local level to provide guests with a community where the staff knows their name and even their pet’s name if they bring them. Activities such as Food Truck Fridays and rotating local vendor events at your property will also give guests an experience that goes further than just convenience, encouraging community in your location. Additionally, visitors should find that the hotel has spaces for both private and public socialization, which is an important part of bleisure travel. Balancing the individual traits of travelers with the overall desires of the audience is a challenge, but it can be done by strategically implementing opportunities for all types of visitors. From productive indoor work centers to relaxing outdoor social spaces, it’s important to provide multiple opportunities for socialization among guests.

Demand for Studio Suites

As the economic outlook of the country changes and consumers seek more cost-effective ways to live and work, the trend of studio suites has come back into the spotlight of extended-stay accommodations. Known for their conservative size and open concept, studio suites provide a comfortable stay for solo or couple travelers. This revitalized interest also affords great benefits for hotel owners and investors, as studio suites can reduce the building’s square footage, thereby also reducing overall construction costs.

Studio suites don’t have to mean sacrificing comfort and a good experience. With the right amenities, décor, and interior layout, a studio can accomplish cost-efficiency for both operators and guests while remaining consistent with a quality stay offering.

Embracing the flexibility of travel through convenient services, enhanced amenities, and increased livability is key to providing a comfortable and memorable bleisure travel experience that this group of travelers is looking for and will continue to be looking for as they bleisurely travel more and more. As we continue to explore a post-pandemic world, the travel industry is on the heels of a great evolution where visionary adaptation to the amenities and services within a brand can greatly benefit and delight its guests.

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Mimi Oliver is chief executive officer of WaterWalk, a flexible lodging brand. Oliver is a ground-up WaterWalk expert, having learned from her grandfather and founder of WaterWalk, the late Jack DeBoer. Over the years, she has worked in most business units of WaterWalk, led the introduction of their Generation 2.0 concept and has raised over $110 million in equity and over $125 million in debt for the company. Oliver was recently recognized as a “Female Force in Hospitality and Real Estate” by International Hospitality Media and participated in the Wall Street Journal’s roundtable of Most Influential Women in Hospitality.