Vered Schwarz is the President and COO of Guesty, an end-to-end property management software for short-term rentals.
In just a year and a half, the entire travel landscape has forever changed and is adapting to new consumer demands, travel habits and shifting behaviors toward work-life balance and flexible, hybrid working arrangements. In nearly every region across the globe, you can no longer hop on a plane on a whim and head to an international destination. For 2021 and the foreseeable future, traveling requires additional planning, advanced testing, safety nets, policies and, quite frankly, additional headaches for consumers and hospitality businesses alike.
With cautious optimism amid the spread of the Delta variant, it’s crucial that businesses cater to dominant travel personas that emerged and became mainstream during the pandemic. And while “digital nomad” was once a buzzy catchphrase, the emerged digital nomad 2.0 is now likely the future of your hospitality business.
Work From Home Has Morphed Into Work From Any Home
The global shift of the last year has presented a new arena in which remote “work-cations” or “bleisure” (business-leisure) travel have become far more in reach to the average corporate employee than ever before. The digital nomad 2.0 can now obtain a change of scenery by booking an extended stay without the need to take time off from work, exploring new surroundings in their free time. They also don’t have to commit to a year of nomadism, but can rather maintain a permanent residence and book sporadic stays throughout the entire calendar year.
Another subset of this persona is forgoing permanent residences altogether and actually spending less on rent through vacation rentals than on signing a traditional year-long lease. Even families have received greater flexibility with the ability to work remotely from rentals during their children’s summer vacation.
The Digital Nomad 2.0 Will Fuel Travel’s Recovery
The craving for travel and adventure is so noticeable that the Miami-based Regent Seven Seas Cruise liner sold out its 2024 five-month world cruise within three hours, a new record. When planning for the future, travelers are hoping that the threat of the virus will be eliminated within a couple years. Consumers are eager to see new places, and the digital nomad will continue to be no exception. In fact, our recent survey of over 500 hospitality professionals predicted that the digital nomad would be the second most prominent travel persona this year.
Countries and governments are beginning to recognize the power that digital nomads have in fueling local economics, especially those impacted by a decrease in traditional tourism. Across major cities and popular destinations around the globe, digital nomad communities and local governments are working to change their immigration laws, allowing new remote working visas that grant extended stays. In Indonesia’s province of Bali, the Minister of Tourism and Creative Economy recently announced plans for a long-term visa that will support and attract new digital nomads from the U.S. and Europe, who have formed a “Silicon Bali” community in recent years. And across European countries such as Croatia, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Germany, Greece, Portugal and Norway, specific digital nomad visas have been introduced in 2021, granting permission to reside in the country legally for up to a year while holding employment abroad.
So, how do you target this growing group that holds significant spending power?
What This Persona Means For Your Business
Look to the professional hosts and property management companies who have successfully adapted to the new-age digital nomad by meeting (and marketing to) their expectations. To start, highlighting a comfortable WFH environment and a stellar Wi-Fi connection is a must, while also touting longer-stay amenities that make this form of “life shopping” more obtainable (think full kitchens and bigger closets).
And considering travelers are preferring to remain domestic and explore nearby regions, you must also advertise in regional media, from local print and digital outlets, Patch news and targeted social media content. Tout your listings as staycations outside of major cities and unique experiences a short drive away from home. In fact, thus far in 2021, our data shows us that more than 90% of vacation rental reservations are by domestic travelers, and domestic travel in general is up 12% from where it stood pre-Covid-19.
From Lodging To Lifestyle
Today’s digital nomad is not looking for a place to stay, but for unique experiences. Americans are exploring new regions of the country and discovering that they can find similar experiences locally that they were searching for abroad, from beaches to hiking trails to culinary experiences and cities they’ve never visited before.
My point is, don’t market lodging solutions — market lifestyle and inspiration. When people can’t travel further than a couple of hours from their home, they will be looking for a unique experience that would make them feel special, pampered, daring — or in other words, make their friends green with envy.
Longer-term stays will continue to be a popular accommodation search and interest as the world continues to adapt to constantly fluctuating guidelines. Don’t sit still and wait for travel to fully normalize. The year 2021 means adapting to the domestic new-age digital nomad and learning what that can do for your business.