Master the new hidden travel networks

The Silk Road and the Spice Road developed over the centuries as major trade routes. Now a hotel expert believes that digital nomads are emerging similar new travel patterns based on their nationalities. Hospitality companies have everything to gain if you can reveal it.

Central and South America in particular is a hotspot for remote workers, according to a senior Selina executive, speaking at Skift’s Future of Lodging Forum on Wednesday.

They are converging and moving,” said Sam Khazari, senior vice president of global corporate development. “We almost figured out these travel routes.”

He cited Panama as an example.

Many people in Israel spend a lot of time on the west coast of Panama. I have no idea why, it’s been this way for the past 35 years. This is what it is, isn’t it? “How shifts in lifestyle and work will bring hospitality back” he said during the panel discussion “will bring back interesting travel dynamics.”

Fortunately, two-thirds of Selena’s portfolio is in Central and South America, and Khazari was just one of many hospitality leaders looking to tap into the rich appeal of digital nomads.

Subtitled “The Great Inclusion” of the two-day forum in New York, other experts discussed how the travel industry has been increasingly interacting with consumers by blending the way they work, socialize and travel.

Corporate spending will return

Search volumes on the Metasearch website Kayak, for example, have resulted in longer stays, the company’s CEO and co-founder revealed.

“Traditional corporate travel will not bounce back, but spending will bounce back,” Steve Hefner told the audience on Wednesday. “We want to help change consumer behaviours.”

Longer stays reflect a revival of corporate travel that blends business and leisure, and Tyler Morse, Chairman and CEO of MCR Hotels, who joined Hefner in discussing “what’s next for hotels while they stay ahead of consumer demand” at the forum, noted that 40% of stays have become On Airbnb it’s now longer than 30 days.

This compared to 20 percent in September last year.

This week Airbnb also introduced a new split-stay feature that allows guests to book flights for a week or more to split flights. However, Morse emphasized that not everyone wants to stay at Airbnb. “I don’t want to get a key from under the cat litter, I find my bed is an air mattress on the floor,” he joked.

However, while he agreed that corporate spending will recover, he believes the patterns will return to pre-pandemic ways.

Another forum speaker revealed that average stays are now 4.5 months across his company’s apartments. And 60 percent of guests end up extending their stay.

It’s a sticky product,” said Alex Chatzieleftheriou, CEO and co-founder of Blueground. It operates 7,000 apartments, but aims to increase that to 40,000 by 2025.

Meanwhile, Highgate CEO Arash Azarbarzin also highlighted the so-called entertainment trend across his company portfolio.

“We think this summer will be the best summer we have ever seen,” he said, adding that there is no “recession coming in the travel sector.”


There was even talk of a boycott of online travel agencies at Skift’s Future of Lodging Forum, where MCR’s Morse sparred with Hefner on stage over distribution tactics.

But this may be unwise advice with the emergence of new types of travel agencies that specialize in connecting remote workers to suitable hotels.

A Dutch startup, Remote Dream, has managed to get some streaming on Dragons’ Den. It’s a sign of how quickly the phenomenon of remote work is moving into the mainstream.

The online travel agency, which only launched in January this year, is geared towards digital nomads, and it hit screens in the Netherlands on Monday. Founder Joeri Nanov presented his case to investors, and managed to secure just over $100,000 from two dragons.

“It was the biggest day for site visitors and reservations,” he said.

Nanoff is now thinking about the next step. “We are starting to build a community, so you can meet other workers remotely at those locations, to prove more information about visas and insurance,” he said, which isn’t much different from Hostelworld’s new community app.

“We are trying to be the one stop shop for remote workers,” he added. It’s counting on travel tech company Impala to help with some of the heavy lifting, as it needs to be bookable without having to integrate into countless property management systems.

“In the past, it has been difficult for startups to break into the travel market, and to pay for mergers,” said Carolyn Hudak, Impala’s chief marketing officer. “With consumer travel patterns changing so much, there is a real rise in online specialist travel agencies.”

She cited other travel websites that specialize in hotels that attract architecture enthusiasts, and other wedding planners.

“If you look at Airbnb filters, that’s how the overall market is going,” added Hudack, who was previously the EMEA marketing director for the home-sharing platform. “Gives hotels the opportunity to connect with new travel vendors.”

Meanwhile, Nanoff said he was in the process of finalizing another $100,000 investment from a Dutch bank. “We can really say we’re one step closer to supporting people (to get out of the office) and work remotely from inspiring places around the world,” he wrote in a LinkedIn post.

Airbnb said this week that more than 800,000 people visited its career page after it announced that employees can live and work anywhere.

It is a clear sign that there is a huge market waiting for Remote Dream and others.

Catch up on corporate travel for 10 seconds

Who and what Skift has covered last week: Airbnb, Amadeus, Choice Hotels, Cvent, Expedia, Flight Center, Getaround, Hyatt, IHG, Saber and Standard International.


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