Throughout the two years of the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve been introduced to catchy buzzwords and phrases ranging from medical terms to new pop culture references.
Words like coronavirus, the original name of the disease; social distancing, to mark off the six feet of space we once had to keep from each other; quarantini, the drink libations people invented at home when they couldn’t or wouldn’t go out to bars and clubs; pent-up demand, the phenomenon of travel wanderlust that has helped bring tourism back.
Add one more to the ever-expanding list.
Ladies and gentlemen, meet the ‘super-commuters.’
As workers slowly return from remote at-home work and transition back into an office environment, New York City hotels are trying a new and different marketing ploy to help recoup all the business it lost in the last two years.
Hotels in the city have introduced packages that entice workers coming into NYC only one or two days a week from city suburbs to spend an evening in a hotel, according to the New York Times.
Workers whose companies are starting to bring employees back to the office, or those who must come in for meetings that simply can’t be done at home and over Zoom, are being plied with low mid-week hotel rates, access to conference rooms and hotel business centers, and parking deals.
And if you know anything about the dearth of NYC parking and the high cost of using a garage, you know that the parking alone might be the key driving factor – no pun intended – for these co-called ‘super-commuters’ to come into the city for work.
The Times quoted one man, who moved more than 100 miles away from the city to Lakeville, Conn. at the height of the pandemic, who now commutes into Manhattan to work twice a week – using an overnight hotel stay every Tuesday at the Ace Hotel in Brooklyn to buffer the two days.
It’s another twist in a new world, somewhat similar to the – caution, another pandemic-era buzzword coming – ‘bleisure’ phenomenon of combining business and leisure trips.
The Times noted that, according to data from STR, a global hospitality data and analytics company, occupancy rates at U.S. hotels were above 50 percent in February of this year – not too far below the 66.1 percent occupancy rate for February of 2019. What was noteworthy was that the rates were not only up on the weekends, but from Monday through Wednesday as well.
And it’s not just New York City. The idea of marketing packages to the ‘super-commuter’ has also been launched in San Francisco, Boston and even in Great Britain, where the citizenM hotel chain is offering a subscription service for a once-a-month stay for $119.
“We’re definitely seeing a new rhythm of one to two stays a month,” Ernest Lee, the brand’s chief growth officer, told the Times. “We saw it a little bit before the pandemic, but not to this level.”
Expect to see more of it.
“This reverse diaspora had to start sometime,” James Bailey, a leadership professor at George Washington University, told the newspaper “People can come back to the office for those two days and stay at a hotel. Because you’ve got all those folks who moved deep into the suburbs, or even beyond to the exurbs. So this is how it’s going to have to happen to get them back to work.”