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Most American vacationers plan to spend the Labor Day weekend working, survey finds

Witthaya Prasongsin | Moment | Getty Images

It looks like millions of Americans might take Labor Day literally and celebrate the upcoming long holiday weekend by, well, working.

That’s according to a new survey by vacation rental search engine HomeToGo, which found that 74% of U.S. adults queried said they plan to do at least some work while traveling this coming Saturday through Monday.

“This Labor Day weekend will be different for many Americans,” said HomeToGo spokesperson Mike Pearce. “The forces of the pandemic have definitely broadened the public’s perception of working-from-remote [and] more people are realizing that they can still be productive outside the office and classroom, even while on holiday.”

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An estimated 42.5 million people will hit the road over the weekend, according to a separate poll by location data company Arrivalist. Meanwhile, so-called work-cations are trending among U.S. travelers, with 66% of survey respondents telling HomeToGo they plan to work remotely during any upcoming vacation.

The HomeToGo survey of 425 adults ages 18 to 70, conducted Aug. 13 to 17, also found that nearly half of all Americans plan to travel for Labor Day, while 37% will stay home and 17% have other upcoming travel plans. Millennials are the most likely, at 62%, to have travel plans this weekend, while those aged 45 and older are more likely to celebrate at home.

The majority of survey respondents, 66%, will travel within 200 miles, or three hours’ driving distance, for Labor Day. “Many travelers had to put their long-haul travel plans on hold this year,” observed Pearce. “As a result, there is a trend of people taking shorter, more frequent vacations that are closer to home — often to natural areas near the lake or by the beach.”

Where Americans are headed

Cape Hatteras Lighthouse in North Carolina’s Outer Banks, the top searched destination in HomeToGo’s most recent traveler survey.

wbritten | E+ | Getty Images

Isolation is in, with searches at HomeToGo for rural destinations are up 91% year over year, compared to a mere 13% annual increase for urban getaways. That’s backed up by other research; a recent survey of 2,000 people by financial services firm IPX 1031 found that 66% are avoiding large cities when they travel.

The top 10 searched destinations at the site for Labor Day this year are, according to HomeToGo:

  1. Outer Banks, North Carolina
  2. Cape Cod, Massachusetts
  3. Pocono Mountains, Pennsylvania
  4. Lake Michigan (multi-state)
  5. Smoky Mountains, Tennessee-North Carolina
  6. Blue Ridge Mountains (multi-state)
  7. Lake Tahoe, California-Nevada
  8. Finger Lakes, New York
  9. Florida Keys
  10. Lake Travis, Texas

Pearce noted that while Americans are looking for remote destinations for their remote-office holidays, they still need all their mod cons and tech bells-and-whistles.

“There’s been a recent surge in demand for vacation rentals in rural areas with good WiFi and internet access,” he said. “Oftentimes, you can get in touch with your host before staying to ask about the internet speed and possibility to work from nearby coffee shops or internet cafes.”

Hotels are taking notice.

The St. Regis Aspen Resort in Colorado is looking to lure well-heeled remote workers with the new Alpine Office Annex package it debuted Aug. 27. Available through next spring, the deal starts at $899 a day and includes not only accommodations but perks like a specialty coffee in the morning and an after-work cocktail at night; in-room hair styling, make-up and wardrobe services; and technology enhancements such as a Google Nest wifi internet booster, HDMI connection to guest room TV display, enhanced lighting for videoconferencing and a Rode Wireless Lavalier microphone.

The St. Regis Aspen Resort is promoting its guest rooms as live-work spaces for travelers looking to conduct business while on vacation.

St. Regis Aspen Resort

Calling work-cations “a huge trend,” Heather Steenge-Hart, area general manager, Luxury Mountain Properties-Western Region for Marriott International Luxury Brands, said staff at the five-star property have noted more room service calls at lunchtime and requests for headphones and other office equipment.

“With extended stays and remote work on the rise, we wanted to offer our guests the formality of the office with the luxury of a vacation,” she said. “This package goes beyond the office essentials and provides travelers with a workspace environment that simultaneously lends itself to both productivity and indulgence.”

The property expects the package to popular on days leading up to and following long weekends and holidays — and key to capturing vacationer mindshare going forward, said Steenge-Hart.

“Although there is so much uncertainty around the future of the workspace, we can be certain that taking a working vacation will rise in popularity as people start to plan future trips,” she added. “Traditional vacation spots or seasonal towns may also find more demand as travel picks up, therefore providing options to work seamlessly from those destinations will be vital to remain competitive.”

For his part, Pearce at HomeToGo sees vacation home rentals as ideal for work-cations. “After working through the lockdown, I think a lot of people realized that they enjoyed the comforts of working from home,” he said. “Having a big kitchen table and some quiet places to take a call can definitely make a ‘homey’ holiday home a more feasible place to stay productive while on vacation.”

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