One of the world’s largest travel websites has launched a dual-pronged promo to get record numbers of people who are currently working remotely to think outside the box –and to also pump new life into the struggling tourism industry.
In a year where the pandemic has reshaped so many aspects of our daily lives, Expedia is urging employees to take their work-from-home gig on the road and turn it into a work from here adventure that combines business and pleasure.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has forced an unprecedented shift in how and where many workers complete their daily ‘9-5,’” said Nisreene Atassi, senior director of communications at Expedia, who added that the “Work from Here” campaign is aimed at work-from-anywhere professionals who can get their jobs done as long as they have a laptop and a good Wi-Fi connection.
The program “allows employees the freedom to balance work with travel,” Atassi said. “We want to inspire workers to think differently about their workspaces to create happier, more productive experiences, which would benefit not only employees but also employers.”
To jumpstart the idea, at 8:20 p.m. on Monday (Dec. 14), Expedia will offer two-week trips to select resorts in Key West, Arizona or South Carolina to six lucky applicants for just $20.20, noting that the April excursions are “sure to sell out quickly.”
But beyond the sweepstakes-like contest, Expedia is clearly trying to get people to think differently by appealing to the “wanderer mindset” of the working masses, encouraging house-bound employees to explore new places, sites and scenery.
The company said the idea stemmed from a survey of 1,000 people who sought to identify the dreams and benefits employees would realize from a temporary relocation. According to the study, three out of four remote workers said they would like a more exotic office view, nearly seven in 10 said they would leave the family behind to do so, and two-third of workers said their productivity would improve when they were stationed in paradise – as would their relationships with their partners and kids.
The “Work from Here” proposition comes at a time when state and local travel restrictions are again rising in the face of record daily case counts and deaths from COVID-19. It also comes in a year that has seen the global pandemic reduce flight and travel bookings by 70 percent, with no near-term rebound in sight.
“Although the progress we are seeing leaves me optimistic on the long-term outlook for our industry, I continue to recognize that it will likely be years — and not quarters — before the travel market returns to pre-COVID volumes,” Booking Holdings CEO Glenn Fogel said on the company’s third-quarter earnings call last month.
That optimistic long-term outlook for tourism was paired with short-term enthusiasm for the industry via shares of Airbnb last week, which priced its over-subscribed $47 billion IPO amid the present slump.
“We believe the COVID-19 pandemic reinforced that travel is an enduring human desire, even in the face of challenges,” Airbnb said in its S-1 filing with the Security and Exchange Commission (SEC). “People have increasingly sought travel options closer to home during COVID-19, and Airbnb’s offerings are well-suited to adapt to this changing dynamic.”
Changing Dynamic Or Lasting Trend?
While there’s no question that the pandemic has caused immense upheaval to the way we live, work, shop and eat, there is still widespread uncertainty as to how lasting or sticky these lifestyle changes will prove to be once the coronavirus risk has subsided.
While there is no way to know for sure, numerous experts and studies have shown that at least some of the digital shift and remote working trend will outlast COVID and become part of the new normal.
If that’s right, then the mindset changes fostered by Expedia’s “Work from Here” promo could prove to be a long-term boon to business.