The new opportunity in travel

May 29, 2022

Airbnb announced their new office policy last month. In a move that surprised no one for a global travel company, they are fully embracing the pitch of remote work. It's a long and well considered piece so I recommend reading it in its entirety. But these few sentences didn't get enough attention.

If you move [within one country], your compensation won’t change... Permanent international moves are much more complex, so we won’t be able to support those this year.

Starting in September, you can live and work in over 170 countries for up to 90 days a year in each location.

International moves are still discouraged by policy, both by compensation adjustments and by logistic overhead. But living in another country for up to three months is allowed - meaning employees can temporarily work around the world. If strung together, these shorter stints can sum to constant international travel with the same pay.

At Globality, we're rolling out a similar policy for around a month at a time. We have 300 employees to Airbnb's 5000 - yet we believe it's still logistically feasible for a smaller company to adopt such a policy and hope colleagues will take advantage of the opportunity. Regardless of your company's stance on full remote work versus office participation, this is a benefit that could easily be adopted across the board and might help temper objections to more office participation.

This very well may be one of the biggest changes in the next decade of travel. There is going to be a new class of work-cations, working by day and socializing by night, at least for young professionals with more flexibility. This model upends traditional tourist activities since it encourages a participation in local cultural life, like the working professionals that live in that city full time. You can work in Berlin and enjoy coffee shops in the morning with beer gardens at night. You can travel to Argentina and rent a wework for the day then take off for a hike in Patagonia on the weekends.

You might engage with the existing tourism infrastructure on these work-cations, but I doubt it. When vacation is concentrated, it's easier to justify the expenditure on tourist activities - and you might even be in a mindset to enjoy some of the more inauthentic qualities of such experiences. But when you're living somewhere full-time, you're likely to gravitate more towards the regular experiences of living in an urban or suburban environment. Coffee shops, movies, parks, hikes.

Apps like Duolingo and Google Translate also change the equation when you're traveling. You can teach yourself to speak basic Dutch or take out your phone to read a menu. You don't have to isolate yourself to restaurants that cater to tourists and are fluent in English. Regional and international review sites have also changed the equation by combining local expertise with star ratings that prioritize food quality over lingual ability.

I much prefer working in a place to visiting it on a pure vacation. If the trend continues, I expect to see more diversity in short-term rentals. A high-quality Airbnb is great for a few days but likely overkill and unaffordable for young professionals over months at a time. These new options will likely be at a lower price-point that's between a yearly lease and a prorated airbnb. I also expect companies to start coordinating some of this process on behalf of clients. You tell them where you want to go alongside your budget and they setup the accommodations. Traditional travel agents might make a play in this space, but I expect newer companies to be advantaged through digital-first platforms and higher quality concierge service.

I'm excited to see what the next decade of travel brings, and even more excited to get back out there and start traveling again.