Blended travel a post-Covid trend: expert

By Phong Van    December 12, 2022 | 12:30 am PT
Benjamin Schwarz, General Manager of the newly-opened Crowne Plaza Vinh Yen City Centre, shared how millennials and Gen Z professionals have driven the trend of blended travel.

The boundaries between business and leisure travel have become blurred as a new generation of young executives, connected travelers and digital nomads seek more work-life balance. Crowne Plaza Hotels & Resorts commissioned its "Blended Travel" white paper which identifies the changing way millennials and Gen Z professionals live, work and travel.

Who drives the blended travel?

Blended travel is not one single trend; it is a combination of concepts. These include:

- Reworking work: the rise of remote working, possibly from a desirable destination such as a beach resort or countryside retreat.

- Hybrid living: the trend of corporate travelers extending their business trip or conference with a few extra leisure days, and inviting their families along.

- Upskilling and side hustles: how young people are traveling in search of creative inspiration, networking and opportunities for entrepreneurship.

- New care economy: how executives are increasingly traveling with their extended families, and seeking out destinations that cater to all ages.

What ties these elements together is the need for flexible spaces, seamless connectivity and ergonomic, design-led solutions to empower and inspire travelers throughout their stay.

To what extent are families important to the blended travel generation?

Families are a key part of the blended travel trend. While many people automatically think of young digital nomads without any responsibilities, many millennial travelers in their thirties and forties now have families, but do not wish to go back to the old, constrained ways of working and traveling.

Benjamin Schwarz, General Manager of the newly-opened Crowne Plaza Vinh Yen City Center,

Benjamin Schwarz, General Manager of the newly-opened Crowne Plaza Vinh Yen City Centre.

The New Care Economy trend sees not just younger people embracing blended travel as a form of self-care, but also older people in their 50s, 60s and even 70s demanding remote and flexible working opportunities as a tool for switching off and juggling family care when they travel.

For self-employed people and entrepreneurs, life, work and travel is inseparable. In recent years we have seen a rising trend towards guests taking out-of-town escapes that let their family members unwind while they continue to work albeit remotely. Many corporate travelers meanwhile, are now extending their scheduled business trip or conference with a few days of leisure with their loved ones.

For travel and hospitality brands, there is an important opportunity to be the facilitator of care-through-travel - why shouldn't travel for work also be a great time to connect with family or spend time with friends?

To what extent has the Covid-19 pandemic accelerated the blended travel trend?

The trend already commenced before the pandemic, as the rise of smart technology created opportunities for travelers – especially young professionals – to work from anywhere. The pandemic accelerated this, as it instigated "working-from-home." With the rise of meeting solutions such as Microsoft Teams, and Zoom, businesses found ways to collaborate, work and stay in touch without being in the office, and more and more people were empowered to work remotely.

In fact, for many Gen Z employees who have only entered the workplace in the last few years, the concept of remote working is considered the norm. Crowne Plaza’s "Blended Travel" white paper revealed that young professionals are now more inclined to work for a company that offers frequent travel or flexible work-travel.

Our guests are looking for more flexibility to rebalance their lives and we're continuing to evolve and invest in the blended travel space to provide the lives that they now want to live as they travel.

What are the key elements that hotels need to focus on, in order to cater for the blended travel trend?

A new, agile generation doesn’t want two opposing ideas awkwardly put together – business and leisure: they want flexible, fit-for-the-future spaces and services, from a brand that understands them. At Crowne Plaza Hotels & Resorts, we know the future is about flexibility.

Hotels need to break down the traditional barriers between business and leisure, both in terms of physical boundaries and social trends. For example, previously guests might have to pay for high-speed reliable wifi, or be tucked away in business Centres and meeting rooms to be able to work or conduct meetings. Now, hotels need to embrace the work-from-anywhere mindset. With the digital advancement in recent years, it is possible for anyone to work from restaurants, bars, lobbies or even by the pool. More and more guests are working wherever they feel most comfortable – whether it's in a busy social space or a quiet working zone.

Equally clear is a growing desire to use this new-found flexibility to adopt a more creative and adventurous approach to where work happens, demonstrated most obviously by the rise of blended travel.

Travel to a hotel or resort in a warm and exotic overseas location, or an exciting city Centre, as a base for remote, flexible working has boomed over the past two years with those who did it seeing it as way to claw back valuable work and leisure time by not having to do the household chores.

How is Crowne Plaza catering for the blended travel trend in Vietnam?

In Vietnam, the launch of the Crowne Plaza Phu Quoc Starbay in December 2021 and now Crowne Plaza Vinh Yen City Centre in November 2022 introduced a new era of intuitive accommodation and amenities that are tailored to the blended travel generation in the country, Two more hotels under the brand are in the pipeline - Crowne Plaza Hoi An Ancient Town, opening in 2024, and Crowne Plaza Danang Ba Na Hills, opening in 2025.

King Suite Grand Oceanfront View Room at Crowne Plaza Phu Quoc Starbay, Photo by Crowne Plaza Phu Quoc Starbay

King Suite Grand oceanfront view room at Crowne Plaza Phu Quoc Starbay. Photo by Crowne Plaza Phu Quoc Starbay

Our hotel lobbies or as we call them, Plaza Workspace, are hybrid spaces that combine small and large gathering possibilities, with nooks, pods and workstations for focused productivity, shared tables for collaboration. Our patented WorkLife guestroom is also designed with three distinct zones to support work, relaxation, sleep. It gives guests an improved sense of space with a new layout that includes an angled bed, along with a moveable table and a more formal desk area, that optimizes the space for both work and downtime.

Main lobby of Crowne Plaza Vinh Yen City Centre. Photo by Crowne Plaza Vinh Yen City Centre

Main lobby of Crowne Plaza Vinh Yen City Centre. Photo by Crowne Plaza Vinh Yen City Centre

Crowne Plaza Vinh Yen City Centre is a 45-minute drive from Noi Bai International Airport, and centrally located to 19 industrial parks such as Khai Quang, Binh Xuyen and Ba Thien. We are also a 30-minute drive to the Tam Dao National Park and Ta Thien Scenic Relics, and close to four highly-rated golf courses, perfect as a base for both business and leisure.

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