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2021 Travel Trend - Short Weeks and Slow Travel

Short Weeks (vs. Long Weekends)

Trips that might have been two or three nights last year now feel too brief — not worth all the hoops, not quite enough time away.

Think about how (much more) stressful travel can sound these days - health declarations, COVID tests, potential quarantine rules in both directions, rising infection rates, hotel/airline policies etc. Layer in the fact that remote work and school is more common and people are in need of a change of scenery. All of this lends to the conclusion that weekend getaways (even long weekends) are not worth the trouble and feel way too short - enter the transition from “long weekends” to “short weeks."

Travelers flex

While the current enviornment makes traditional trips difficult, long weekends can turn into longer weekends, shorter weeks, month-long escapes - essentially any length of time on any day of the week. While people are taking fewer trips, vacation length is increasing (especially summer vacation rentals) - especially as travelers look to make the most of a longer trip in case future ones get cancelled. It is certainly enticing when "vacations" can start at the end of each work day and extend into a weekend with no added travel required. When it comes to family visits, the risks and considerations become more tangible - it can be a major effort to visit at-risk family so a longer trip may feel like the only option, especially when a future visit feels so uncertain. 

Accomodations geting onboard

Longer bookings can certainly help offset the financial challenges that come with less travelers. Hotels can streamline pricing across days as weekends and weekdays may no longer have a dramatic difference - the traditional model of regular weekends, long weekends and longer stays for holidays is less relevant because people want to get away whenever and wherever feasible. Even if that means adapting existing models and assumptions - e.g. housekeeping, check-in/out dates, gaps between bookings, typical wear and tear, dining preferences - the growth in bookings should be worth it.  Key to remember though is that each reservation has more importance now that a cancellation for more reasons (illness, travel restrictions, cold feet etc.) is very feasible. It tends to be easier for a hotel to backfill a shorter stay cancellation vs. a longer-stay. 

The key takeaway from this is the value of spending that extra time with close ones during these unique times. With the option to do short weeks or longer stays being more feasible, travelers can even extend trips mid-trip and flex based on the actual current experience they are having. Instead of going on a traditional vacation and potentially taking the experience for granted, trips nowadays come with perspective and gratitude to be able to get away - especially with all of the challenges to travel and life all around us.

Slow Travel
A pervasive travel trend over the last several years has been the unrelenting race to visit as many places as possible during our lifetimes. It has become certainly easier to do this over time with the proliferation of competitive airfares, extensive hotel and accomodation growth, the expansion of the global middle class, the shift from physical items to shared experiences and - of course - Instagram and social media envy.

Over the recent few years, pushback has emerged to this trend - flight-shaming due to environmental concerns, over-tourism restrictions imposed by destinations like Venice, Iceland and Angkor Wat and of course the recent travel reset caused by COVID-19. Experiences have been shared virtually through Zoom and countries have seen beautifully restored versions of themselves. As travel begins to resume around the world in various stages and with differing velocity, travelers, planners and destinations are seeking to strike this idealistic balance of economics and preservation by embracing "slow travel." Let's see if travelers embrace this idyllic yet powerful possibility. 

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