Long-term hotel stays are becoming more popular – and not just for business travellers.
Even prior to the onset of COVID-19, 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.
Today, while a totally different market may well be the target for hoteliers working hard to attract guests in the face of lockdowns and travel bans, its purpose remains unchanged – and doesn’t apply to only extended-stay hotels or aparthotels either.
Many hospitality establishments have, for example, found new markets in travellers forced to quarantine for 14 days or more, who are 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 and our strict and thorough Radisson Hotels Safety Protocols alleviating their COVID-19 concerns.”
Corporates, meanwhile, will avoid the onerous conditions associated with travel at all costs: polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing, social distancing, regular sanitisation and the wearing of face masks.
Now, 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 instead. This limits that staff member’s time and exposure in high-risk environments, such as airports, and avoids the need for multiple testing.
Making The Most of The Trend
So how are hotels making the most of this trend? And what are the benefits to travellers?
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. “At Radisson”, says Kneubuhler, “our promotions have been centred on affordability, safety and convenience, such as discounts on laundry, which can add up after a long period of time; customised minibars and menus; and flexible rates depending on the length of the stay.”
These and other initiatives – think 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.
Guests are also more than willing to pay for a month-long stay when the offer includes security, a swimming pool and gym, and complimentary Wifi and parking. “I’m a student at the University of Cape Town and 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.”
Extended Hotel Stays
Extended hotel stays such as those offered by Radisson and other big-name hospitality chains 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, says Enver Duminy, CEO of Cape Town Tourism.
“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 such as Cape Town, while still meeting all their work and home obligations.”
And in a world that’s already very complicated, the option of an extended stay when you travel is a simple convenience for which many are very grateful.
*Name has been changed.