Long-term hotel stays are becoming more popular – and not just for business travellers.
Extended hotel stays were a no-brainer for corporates seeking to squeeze the most out of their travel budgets, as well as digital nomads who could work from anywhere in the world pre-Covid.
During the pandemic, many hospitality establishments found that many people were suddenly comparing extended stay offers.
One group that’s recorded a marked increase in these numbers is the Radisson Hotel Group, with Sandra Kneubuhler, Country Director of Sales, South Africa, stressing that catering to long-stay guests has come with increased safety and administrative responsibilities.
“We have many guests who escaped lockdown in Europe and have been with us for four or five months now. Since they can work from anywhere, South Africa allows them to have a somewhat normal life with most businesses still open," said Kneubuhler.
Rather than send one staffer back and forth every week or multiple people on multiple teams, they’ve opted to send one person for an extended period.
This limits that staff member’s time and exposure in high-risk environments, such as airports, and avoids the need for multiple testing.
"In the hospitality reality, where demand has dropped significantly, extended stays provide hotels with a much higher return for a much lower input. And it’s an exciting new niche market, whether the clientele who stay longer are corporates or families seeking some respite from the daily grind.
"Initiatives like larger rooms with a living area and kitchenette, aimed at making a suite feel more like a home than a hotel have now become standard features, even at those hotels, traditionally not aimed towards longer stays.
“While approximately 80% of extended stays are still business-related, hotels are reporting that more leisure travellers are opting to extend their stays," she said.
Kneubuhler said guests were more than willing to pay for a month-long stay when the offer includes security, a swimming pool and gym, and complimentary wi-fi and parking.
“I’m a student at the University of Cape Town. I chose to stay at Park Inn by Radisson Cape Town, Newlands on a month- to-month basis rather than sign a year-long lease for a flat,” says Mpho Nobuhle*.
“The hotel is close to my varsity, the mall and loads of other places. And if the varsities decide to shut down at any point because of rising Covid-19 infections, I’m not obligated to stay at the hotel if I want to return home instead," she said.
Enver Duminy, CEO of Cape Town Tourism, said extended hotel stays have certainly helped boost tourism in the Mother City, even if room occupation rates have a long way to go to return to pre-pandemic levels.
“People miss travel and all the experiences that go along with it. So the fact that they can now work from anywhere allows them the freedom to explore a destination while still meeting all their work and home obligations," he said.
*Name has been changed.