Hotels plug into workations

DUBAI, 19 January 2021: Hotels in the Middle East will capitalise on the pent-up global demand for so-called workations, driven by Covid-19 restrictions imposed by governments over the past 10 months according to research by Reed Travel Exhibitions, the organiser of Arabian Travel Market.

The ATM show is scheduled to go ahead 16 to 19 May 2021 hosted at the Dubai World Trade Centre.

Reed Exhibition’s research points out that many travel experts are expecting a surge in workations in 2021 and beyond. The trend was already apparent in 2019 but is now being fuelled by pent-up demand due to coronavirus travel restrictions.

Arabian Travel Market exhibition director ME, Danielle Curtis said: “The hotel industry in the Middle East has gradually started to recover, especially in places such as Dubai. Staycations created the initial demand after lockdown; the next step has been the continued growth of workations, which are also referred to as bleisure stays, which tend to bring in more visitors from overseas.”

Fueling this growth are companies like Facebook, Twitter and Spotify which have announced that employees can work from home indefinitely, leading many experts to predict that these digital professionals are likely to work remotely, whilst still connecting safely and securely with their physical offices.

“Longer term, the ‘on the go’ executive will be a far more common sight in hotels, whether it’s Gen Z singletons, millennial professionals, or freelancers who can earn a living from a laptop,” added Curtis.

With over 50% of the world’s working population doing so from home and the rise of entrepreneurial digital nomads who prefer to work remotely, the popularity of workations will only increase.

“Dubai has introduced a remote visa programme that would entitle visitors to stay for up to 12 months, with access to co-working spaces and government support services,” said Curtis.

To accommodate the needs of the ‘new normal’ smart working traveller even further, an increasing number of hotels in the MENA region are offering pop-up co-working spaces with the aim of rethinking and making the most of the hotel space, which is no longer considered just as a place to stay, instead, it becomes a potential work environment.

“Covid-19 has completely disrupted the traditional office culture and the hospitality sector has been quick to offer alternative solutions for those looking to combine working from home with leisure time. The introduction of the workation concept is not just a novel idea, it’s about making adjustments to meet the new market demands, allowing those who are not currently working from their office to enjoy a luxury hospitality experience whilst continuing their work commitments,” said Emaar Hospitality COO Mark Kirby.

Further afield in the Maldives for example, hotels are offering the ultimate ‘workation packages’ where guests can work from a secluded beach house, with personal desks and high-speed WiFi. Some hotels in India have created indoor and outdoor common areas that function as work-friendly spaces, many others have opted for dedicated spaces.

ATM 2021 will also play an integral role in Arabian Travel Week, and for the first time, a new hybrid format will be in place. This means an additional virtual ATM will be organised to run the following week, which will complement the live event by accommodating visitors who may be unable to travel to Dubai. The inaugural ATM Virtual 2020, attracted 12,000 online attendees from 140 countries, over three days.

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