Factors Driving More Skilled (and Happier!) Workers on the Road


Business travel spending is accelerating faster than forecasters expected last year and is now predicted to exceed pre-pandemic spending levels reaching $1.4 trillion in 2024 – and growing to nearly $1.8 trillion by 2027, according to the 2023 GBTA Business Travel Index Outlook.

Pent-up demand and stable economic conditions are among the factors cited in the study. But the face of the business traveler is also changing. Increasingly, companies are relying on a traveling workforce to fill their needs in construction, healthcare, manufacturing, and other sectors. Skilled workers are learning that demand for their talents may deliver more lucrative pay and contribute to their overall happiness at work – a winning combination for sure.

Keep reading to learn about what is contributing to the travel surge and how to prepare your company’s travelers.


Federal Funds Spurring Projects and Jobs

Federal funds from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act passed in 2021 have been awarded to nearly 20,000 projects in all 50 states. From massive bridge and transit projects to repaving roads and water system upgrades, the federal government has already doled out more than $280 billion of the $1.2 trillion expected to be spent over the next five years. In addition, the federal CHIPS and Science Act aims to invest $280 billion to bolster U.S. semiconductor capacity, research, and development expertise, create regional high-tech hubs and a bigger, more-inclusive STEM workforce. New semiconductor factories are already under construction in Arizona, Indiana, Ohio, and Texas. Others have been announced in Kansas, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Utah.

A study published by consulting firm ZS Associates in late 2021 when Congress approved the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, estimated the bill would “generate between 50 and 100 million room nights over the next 10 years.” Both acts promise to create millions of new jobs, both short-term during planning, design, and construction phases, and long-term. For now, the worker shortage is prompting more travel for this new breed of skilled laborer.


Talent Demand Fuels Improved Compensation, Leads to Job Happiness

The need for skilled workers in this era of rapid growth remains high. Associated Builders and Contractors estimates, “the construction industry will need to attract an estimated 546,000 additional workers on top of the normal pace of hiring in 2023 to meet the demand for labor.” In a 2022 analysis of the infrastructure law, McKinsey estimated the law could create 3.2 million new jobs across the nonresidential construction value chain, “which would mean 300,000 to 600,000 new workers entering the sector—every year.”

With this increased demand for workers across all skill levels, consulting firm Korn Ferry urges governments and businesses to rethink talent strategies. The firm highlights the importance of people (including their development, recruitment, and compensation) as a top priority when discussing solutions to mitigate the talent crunch and support sustained growth. Hourly wages for construction workers soared to a 40-year high in 2022, the Associated General Contractors of America, one of the largest construction trade associations in the U.S., reports. According to Payscale, the median hourly wage for a construction worker is $17.70 — but wages can be as high as $28.83. 

Recruiting agencies like FlexTrades are taking note of the high demand for skilled workers, as well. Headquartered in Bloomington, Minnesota, FlexTrades is deploying 700-800 highly skilled technicians to manufacturing plants across the lower 48 states, according to the company’s Public Relations & Engagement Specialist Josh Erickson.  The skilled workers may be assigned to a project for 60-90 days or longer, often housed in an extended stay or other hotel that offers competitive rates to small and midsize companies scrambling to source lodging for such workers. “We pay well, and they get a variety of work. Workers expect good accommodations that are clean, comfortable and in a good, quality location.” Demand is so strong that Erickson said the 20-year-old company aims to grow to 1,000 technicians by year end.

With the expected increase in demand for infrastructure labor, it’s beneficial that construction workers are believed to be enjoying their jobs. According to a new analysis by BambooHR, construction workers have the highest levels of self-reported happiness of any major industry category thanks to plentiful job opportunities along with the ability to form interpersonal connections through work with tangible results. Jenn Lim, CEO of the organizational consultancy Delivering Happiness, tells CNBC Make It, the construction business is widely recognized for promoting strong bonds among on-site personnel. She adds, construction workers also have access to a wide swath of professional organizations that help them with skills training and apprenticeships to advance in their careers. Fair pay and opportunity for career growth bode well for today’s skilled labor force.


Extended Stay Hotel Solutions

This specific skilled labor force has unique needs as far as lodging amenities. Simply put, they want to feel at home when work takes them away from home. Amenities like housekeeping, access to laundry facilities, free Wi-Fi, and in-room conveniences like refrigerators, microwaves and coffee makers go a long way to help keep guests comfortable. These amenities are paramount at extended stay hotels making them a logical conclusion for workforce travel. The average length of stay in hotels, according to a report from REBusinessOnline, has increased by about 20% to 25% percent when compared to before the pandemic. REBusinessOnline also reported that the increase in blue-collar jobs is a major contributor to the greater demand for extended-stay hotels.  Demand for extended stay properties is prompting a bevy of new hotels and brands. In 2022, Lodging Econometrics said 130 extended stay properties opened and this year 180 extended stay properties with 18,713 rooms are expected to open. As of June 2023, close to 2,083 extended stay projects with 214,557 rooms were in the hotel construction pipeline. “The extended stay segment is growing at 2.5 to 3.5 times the actual and forecasted industry growth rates from 2022-2025,” the firm said.

Demand for its own extended stay properties has been so great that Wyndham Hotels & Resorts announced an entirely new construction brand, ECHO Suites Extended StaySM by Wyndham. As of July, the company announced that 265 hotels and approximately 33,000 rooms are in the development pipeline, including the first in Canada.

Here Is What You Can Do To Be Prepared:

Prioritize partnerships with hotel chains that can give your company rates at a range of brands for various lengths of stay.

Identify project locations and estimate your project crew’s time in the market. Leverage this to establish project-specific rates at hotels convenient to the job site.

Keep tabs on what’s important to your travelers when they stay at hotels and select accommodations accordingly to ensure your company satisfies the needs of its employees so it can retain the most talented workforce.

Small to mid-sized businesses can save up to 15% off our Best Available Rate*
Additional savings up to 22% off our Best Available Rate for extended stays of 5+ nights.*

*Wyndham Business Always On Stay Longer, Save More Rate Terms & Conditions

Travel Arrangers (as defined below) of a small to mid-size businesses can submit an application through the corporate account inquiry form (an “Application”) of Wyndham Hotels & Resorts, Inc. (“WHR”) to determine if such business qualifies for a volume-based discount of up to fifteen percent (15%) off of our Best Available Rate for transient stays and up to twenty two (22%) off of our Best Available Rate for long term stays beginning at 5+ nights (the “Discount”). A “Travel Arranger” means any individual who is a representative of the legal business entity for which they submit an Application. Once received by WHR, a member of the team will review the Application, contact the Travel Arranger by telephone or email with additional eligibility questions, as necessary, and, within fourteen (14) days, send the Travel Arranger an email (the “Determination Email”) indicating whether or not the Application is approved. If approved, the Determination Email will include (i) a unique 10-digit corporate booking code (the “Corporate Booking Code”), and (ii) the percentage of the Discount offered by such Corporate Booking Code.

The Discount applies only to bookings made by the Travel Arranger and/or travelers within the Travel Arranger’s organization for Qualified Stays at Participating Hotels by providing the Corporate BookingCode (i) on www.wyndhamhotels.com, www.wyndhambusiness.com, (ii) via telephone at 1-800-407-9832 and requesting the rate associated with the Corporate Booking Code or business name or (iii) on the Wyndham Hotels & Resorts app using the Corporate Booking Code.

The Discount is on a Participating Hotel’s Best Available Rate excluding taxes, resorts/service fees, incidentals, gratuities, or additional per room, per night charges that may be imposed. Best Available Rate means best, non-qualified, unrestricted, publicly available rate on www.wyndhamhotels.com or www.wyndhambusiness.com for the hotel with equivalent terms, date and accommodations requested.

© 2023 Wyndham Hotel Group, LLC. All rights reserved. All hotels independently owned and operated with the exception of a limited number of hotels managed by an affiliate of the company.