SAN ANTONIO — We’re nearly a year into the COVID-19 pandemic and while we are one step closer to mass vaccination, little has changed
Face masks and social distancing continue to be the norm, large gatherings remain restricted, and remote work seems destined to be the way of the future.
But there is some good news! As many have adjusted to the remote-work life, analysts have seen an increase in remote work travel.
Remote work travel
According to a recent report from RVShare, a company that connects individuals and groups with RV owners similar to an Airbnb), travelers are making lemonade out of lemons by taking advantage of the freedom that comes with remote work with nearly two thirds (61%) agreeing that RVs would make a good workspace.
RVshare’s CEO Jon Gray said that he and the rest of the travel industry “have seen this switch to remote work and school. We see that as a very long-term tailwind for the travel business as a whole. As people have more flexible time, we expect them to take more trips, probably focus more on value because we expect them to take more trips.”
RV rentals have increased
According to RVShares’ 2021 Travel Trend report, there was a massive increase in RV bookings in 2020 compared to 2019. In San Antonio, specifically, there was a 129% spike. While air-travel during the pandemic can carry additional risks, road-trips and RVs offer a safer way to explore new places and remain socially-distant.
But Gray said that the biggest thing that’s underlying the trend to RVing is that people simply want a change of scenery.
“[People] are sitting at home. They’ve been sitting at home for a long time doing work. I mean, even if they’re comfortable going out to places like grocery stores or to pick up food, that’s pretty different than going out and spending time out under the stars. So what we’ve seen happen is the trips have gotten longer, [because] people have more flexible time. So, the trips are extending, but they’re also happening closer to home. ”
Staying close to home
Some of these exploration destinations in 2020 included Big Bend National Park, Garner State Park, and Port Aransas.
Gray explained that the resurgence of state parks is a result of people becoming more aware “that things that are very nearby are actually really wonderful and can give you a nice change of scenery from your day to say sitting and looking at the same desk and four walls.”
Another popular destination that offers Texans a change of scenery is the Hill Country.
Casey Morton, General Manager of Collective Hill Country (one of Collective Retreats locations), a luxury glamping company in Wimberley, Texas said that they’ve seen an increase in remote work travelers during the past 10 months.
“We saw an increase overall in couples and families and solo travelers because people are looking for a respite from the chaos and they feel safe here.”
Located on the Montesino Ranch in the heart of the Hill Country, Collective Hill Country provides guests with elevated accommodations. Within the retreat there are 12 summit tents, complete with plush king-sized beds, chandeliers, a variety of beverage options, comfy robes, and en-suite bathrooms that feature rain showerheads, warm and cold running water, and full-flush toilets. In addition to the luxury digs, guests are provided with many culinary and wellness experiential activities.
“It’s open, it’s socially distanced by nature itself, and it’s ideal for anyone who just wants a change of scenery and wants to feel safe and really reconnect with nature.”
Morton said that after inquiring about the COVID-19 safety measures and sanitation efforts in place at Collective Hill Country (for the record, Morton said that staff members are gloved up and masked at all times, tents are thoroughly disinfected, and everything is washed daily), the next question is “Do you have WiFi?”
“We have been doing Work-From-Tent programs since May of last year. It was just such a natural extension of what was happening. And people wanted to know, you know, ‘Do you have WiFi?’ ‘Is it reliable?’ ‘Can we do Zoom meetings?’”
Collective Hill Country retreat
As a result, Morton explained that Collective Hill Country re-outfitted their entire Internet system to ensure that guests have very reliable, fast, high-speed Internet service throughout the retreat.
“People are coming and they’re going, ‘Listen, you know, I’m doing a Zoom meeting in the morning. Can you deliver breakfast early?’ ‘Of course, we can! Absolutely!’ Then they might break for lunch and they’ll take lunch grab-and-go and do some of our hiking trails here and then come back and resume work. Work from your outside desk on the porch and just really revel in the beauty of this area.”
Aside from offering guests a break from their home office setups, Morton said Collective Hill Country is more than just a glamping company.
“We have an amazing culinary scene here. We have chef tasting dinners, barbecue boxes, we do lots of activities. You get to brand your own cutting board, do charcuterie journeys with our chefs, so there’s a lot to offer in terms of activities. We also just launched our ‘Health and Wellness Collective Program,’ which starts right now and people are booking. They want to be able to do something also when they’re here.”
The new age of 'live, work, play'
It’s the freedom and flexibility of remote work that RVShare’s Jon Gray said has ushered in a new age of live-work-play.
“During the pandemic, most people’s lives have kind of merged living, working, and playing kind of altogether because your office has become your home and all those types of things. What travel-- when you kind of mix it into this live-work-play equation--- does is, it takes something that feels kind of onerous and makes it fun. Like, you can really start to own your place as opposed to being a prisoner within your house.”
As a result, Gray said travel trend analysts are seeing “more people showing up in the form of longer trips and closer to home trips where there’s technology requirements, where they want WiFi, but they’re really taking advantage to get outside and spend time with their families.”
So if you’re looking for a trip to take in 2021 that you won’t have to cancel, consider getting outside, renting an RV and taking a trip to one of Texas’ many state parks or give glamping a try in the Texas Hill Country.