Guillermo García de Benito 

Where will the tourist stay model evolve to in the 21st century?

As a result of the pandemic and the new economic and technological context of the 21st century, new options for hotel stays in tourist destinations have flourished in recent years. Thus, we have begun to hear about corporate digital nomads, coworking spaces, 'hyper-specialised' stays, 'kilometre 0' hotels or disconnection tourism, within the framework of a new global scenario in which the client is increasingly demanding in terms of what he or she is looking for. 

Fabián González, founder of Forward_; Toni Mascaró, from eMascaró, Xavi López, from Eisi Soft; Carlos Dominguez from Ilunion; Teresa de Pablo, from HotelKit; and José Almansa, president of Agrupación Nómadas Digitales Corporativos, discussed all these new segments in the framework of the 1st Ibero-American Meeting of Hospitality and Tourism Managers, held last Friday in Madrid. 

The speakers discussed at this congress about all these incipient offers in terms of tourist stays, and that is why we review all the names that came to the fore, to assess their benefits and drawbacks, as well as their possible relevance in the coming years. 

Disconnection tourism

This is far from revolutionary or innovative. There is a certain profile of the tourist who has long sought to escape from the hustle and bustle of the city, and simply demands a destination where they can completely forget about the slavery of mobile phones and technology. With the overwhelming growth of cities and the threat of depopulation in countless villages on the peninsula, this form of tourism can gain in importance and become a long-term solution for those destinations that do not have a specific tourist attraction beyond their natural heritage and their promise of tranquillity. 

Corporate digital nomads

On the other side of the road are the digital natives. Technology has created hundreds of new opportunities in the labour market, and one of them is the birth of corporate digital natives. These are workers who, no longer needing to be permanently in an office or fixed workspace, are acquiring this lifestyle, driven by their companies, who want their employees to come into contact with new ideas, lifestyles and ways of working around the world. 

The Corporate Digital Nomad goes further than the Digital Nomad, according to José Almansa, as in addition to being culturally enriched by these stays in different places, organised by the company, they discover other work cultures or different knowledge that can be incorporated into the company. A textbook win-win. 

But for this to happen, it is essential that the corporate digital nomad has a workspace that allows him/her to interact with new voices and that provides a suitable working environment, taking into account aspects as varied as the climate, internet connection or the cultural richness of a destination. 

One of these destinations that is already beginning to stand out as ideal for this tourist profile is the Canary Islands, which, for example, is beginning to welcome workers from German companies in its hotels during the winter season, due to the energy crisis in the country. 

Hotels with coworking spaces

In relation to the profile we have just discussed, hotels have a lot to say about this. It is essential that they have coworking spaces, i.e. shared spaces in which independent professionals carry out their work activities, or that can host team building days, in order to attract these workers. 

But not only must a hotel have these spaces, but the rooms themselves must also be prepared so that the client can work with all the comforts. What can be controlled to make this happen? Simple details such as providing spacious desks, good lighting and a fast internet connection are enough to improve the workspace in the rooms. In short, that the worker finds in these hotels the perfect balance to develop his or her work practice and to enrich himself or herself personally. 

Accessible hotels 

Aimed at creating inclusive tourism, accessible hotels were born, of which the Ilunion business group is one of the leading exponents. All the speakers agreed that one of the priorities is to make the tourism sector an inclusive sector, in which any person with a disability (temporary or otherwise) can enjoy the wonderful pleasure of discovering new destinations. To this end, these accessible hotels have infrastructures and spaces adapted to make it easier for everyone to stay. 

This is not only a question of human rights, but it is also a business opportunity and a good option to provide the tourism sector with greater quality and inclusiveness. 

Medicalised residential hotels

During the pandemic, they were one of the solutions implemented to deal with the lack of hospital beds and the outbreaks of sick people in nursing homes, but this format, which combines the comfort of hotels with the care of nursing homes, may go further in the coming years. 

Nursing homes have always been associated with an image of sadness and gloom, when this need not necessarily be the case. There are many rural or coastal areas where medicalised hotel-residences could fit in perfectly, and would definitely change this idea of grey spaces, as well as providing residents with more leisure options. 

Hotels kilometre 0

Who hasn't happened to be strolling through their city and noticed the fantastic hotels that are distributed along its streets? More and more people, aware of the wide range of hotels in their locality, are becoming 'tourists in their own city'. This is not just about going to enjoy the hotel room, but is often done when the hotel has a fantastic spa, a Michelin star restaurant, or a first class cocktail bar, for example. In short, a new way of rediscovering the tourist offer of your city. 

Experiential tourism

Hotel chains are increasingly aware that tourists, especially after the pandemic, are looking more and more for a trip that allows them to make contact with the local population and culture, and to live experiences with a greater immersive component. This is why many hotels are committed to connecting the client with the spaces offered by the destination, ranging from adventure experiences in nature to gastronomic experiences in traditional venues. 

Undoubtedly, this proactive tourist profile, interested in fully discovering the destinations they visit, is increasingly present in the sector, a traveller who goes far beyond the traditional holiday in a resort, and who can generate a greater impact on the local economy.

Hyper-specialised accommodation

There was less unanimity on this type of stay, those that focus 100% on a specific profile, such as family or party tourism. This is the case of hotels such as the Ushuaïa Beach Hotel Ibiza, an exponent of the Ibiza party scene, or the Hotel del Juguete, in the Alicante town of Ibi, known for its children's décor. 

Although these spaces make it possible to offer much more personalised accommodation and leisure options for a specific tourist profile, this specialisation also means that they cannot become a large chain or transfer this model to any destination. In short, it is a hotel format that is much more closely linked to the environment in which it is located. 

Author:  Guillermo García de Benito

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The authors are responsible for the choice and presentation of the facts contained in this document and for the opinions expressed therein, which are not necessarily those of Tourism and Society Think Tank and do not commit the Organization, and should not be attributed to TSTT or its members.

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