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Hospitality Industry Records Longer Bookings During the Pandemic Working professionals from cities are temporarily shifting base to smaller cities, making the most of work from home policies during the pandemic to work out of exotic locations

By Vidhi Bubna

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After a long, bitter summer, the hospitality industry, which was among the worst hit from Covid-19 pandemic, seems to have caught on the recovery trajectory.

As the hospitality industry resumed business from last month with proper safety measures in place, some properties are booked full and for longer durations.

But, what is driving this phenomenon?

Several hotel chains I spoke to unanimously spoke of the same factor behind this trend—working professionals from cities are temporarily shifting base to smaller cities and holiday destinations, making the most of work from home policies during the pandemic to work out of exotic locations.

They are moving to pristine hill stations away from the city for a long duration of time. And why not? Imagine working with a wide open view of the Himalayas or expanse of sea.

Working Remotely from the Hills and Beaches

Remote working has allowed many professionals to move to hill stations or other holiday destinations for longer durations and work out of there.

Vidur Kapur, general manager of Rokeby Manor, Mussoorie highlights that many people from cities are booking villas at their hotel for weeks altogether. "Currently, we are noticing a shift in booking preferences. Cottages and villas are more popular as they offer privacy along with providing stunning views of the Himalayas, so customers are picking those options for longer stays. Various people from cities are booking our villas for weeks together."

The pandemic has increased bulk bookings at properties because professionals are using the pandemic to create a shift in their lifestyle.

"Many of our customers work from the balconies of the villas and explore Mussoorie after their working hours. Taking a walk in the beautiful hills post work is something they would normally not be able to do because of physical work policies. However, work from home has given people the flexibility they need," added Kapur.

People who were restricted to living in metros due to work boundations now have the option to work out of anywhere due to work-from-home regime. Also, working professionals who never got the chance to take a long break from work are making use of remote working option to get a break from their routine.

Shifting Base to Places With Lower COVID-19 Cases

Another reason for people temporarily shifting base to smaller cities is rising cases in metro cities. For instance, Mumbai is registering thousands of Covid-19 cases by the day and continues to be a hub. However, in Alibaug, which is a few hours away from Mumbai, the spread of the virus is relatively controlled.

According to Saagar Panchal, founder and CEO at Hireavilla, "Businessmen and working professionals from Mumbai are booking villas in Alibaug and are coming here with their laptops to work. Locals in these small towns are getting more employment because of the influx of people. There are new food delivery services, which have started because working professionals prefer food to be delivered to them. There are lower Covid-19 cases here so people can lead more stress free".

Moreover, all the properties are maintaining adequate social distancing norms and guidelines by WHO to make their guests feel safe.

"We maintain social distancing norms even at the staff quarters. Our staff's health is closely monitored just like the guests. We also have a COVID emergency team at the property itself which I manage closely to ensure that we keep the guests safe," says Kapur of Rokeby Mansion. Most properties are ensuring safety norms because guests care most about that while choosing a property for their extended stay.

Tired of Doing Chores During Lockdown

Covid-19 pandemic has led many Residential Welfare Associations (RWAs) to ban entry of domestic helpers in the societies to keep the spread of the virus in check. Of course, some people have themselves chosen to not resume their helper's services yet. People have been doing most of their own household work in the last few months, leading to them yearning a change.

Saurabh Bamane, general manager at Upper Deck Resort Lonavala highlights the reason why people are booking rooms for longer duration of time. "They want to feel safe and get a retreat where they don't worry about anything. While working during the day, they get their own food at the resort. They don't need to worry about cooking on their own. They want to enjoy this feeling for a long time and get away from daily chores."

Lonavala has been a popular hill station for people from Mumbai and Pune.

Bored of Living at Home and Need a New Space

While for some moving to other cities is an escape from household chores, for others it's just a change as people are bored staying at home.

Since mental health has been a major concern in the pandemic, many professionals are moving to Goa and other destinations for longer durations of time. Highlighting this further, the general manager at the Park Hotels says "People in metropolitan cities are stressed because of rising cases and this is affecting their mental health. The booking preferences of customers have changed. They are now moving to Goa and booking rooms for around two weeks to get a break from their life in the city."

Vidhi Bubna

Freelance Writer

Vidhi Bubna is a freelance journalist from Mumbai who writes about a wide variety of topics. She starts every morning reading current affairs and likes to keep up with new trends worldwide. She is also a trekking enthusiast and hopes to move to the Himalayas someday. 
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