The property management industry may soon be entering a new era because of “digital nomads”, who may be the industry's saviour, who are set to come to the fore as a new breed of travellers.
We believe it's important for leaders in the vacation rental space to take the time to get to know this type of customer and learn how your business can better meet their needs.
Digital nomads are known to be remote workers or rather “bleisure” travellers. (business + leisure). They are people who are location-independent and use technology to perform their job, living a nomadic lifestyle. The term refers to people who work remotely, telecommuting rather than being physically present at a company's headquarters or office.
In a world where digital nomads are the new norm, the vacation rental industry is likely about to enter a period of transition. As the industry becomes increasingly mainstream and relates to dominant travel personas, businesses must align to cater to them. The consumer needs, travel habits, and changing working behaviours are reshaping the industry as we speak!
Globally, 1.25 billion workers use their smartphones, computers, and tablets for work. In other words, if only 1% of people become digital nomads, (travelling the world 365 days a year, not just 15 days of vacation), that's 4.2 billion extra nights per year. The potential is huge.
Living a digital nomad lifestyle can now obtain a change of scenery by staying in a vacation rental for an extended period of time, without having to stop working, so they can explore new places during their off-hours.
According to a 2020 study by MBO Partners, there are 10.9 million digital nomads in the U.S. alone, and 19 million more Americans reported they are considering a digital nomad lifestyle.
Are you searching for expansion avenues for your vacation rental? If you’ve been looking for new ways to penetrate into new markets and gain access to new audiences, the digital nomad crowd might be what you need.
This audience tends to be relatively low-maintenance, with a few office-oriented requirements. Furthermore, since they will be working during most of their stay, they're more likely to keep your property in good condition.
Digital nomads are among the fastest-growing audiences in the travel industry. A 2020 Harris poll found that 74% of Americans working remotely would consider taking a "work-cation" where they work somewhere other than their home city for an extended period of time. According to Airbnb, the number of long-term rentals of 28 days or more increased by 24% this year from 14%. In its most recent quarter, around half of all Airbnb stays lasted at least seven nights.
During Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky's earnings call, he said, “the big trend is flexibility: People are travelling anytime, anywhere, and they are staying longer.” He said, "We think these trends are here to stay."
It is time to capitalize on this trend and get on board this upward trend.
Let's take a look at what you can implement at your vacation rental today to market your vacation rental to digital nomads.
They are not travellers nor tourists. The term "digital nomad" should be interpreted as a lifestyle and a digital nomad is a business traveller. However, having the ability to work remotely means that there are fewer requirements for digital nomads because they are not bound by an office or much equipment. As a digital nomad, some essential factors that influence their decision-making include:
Cost of living
Seasonal climate and weather conditions
High speed internet access
Find out how you can invite this alternative type of traveller to stay at your vacation rental and how you can make them feel at home.
Usually, the person who rents your place uses it as a working base. That means you need not worry about their intentions, because they are there for business. But keep in mind, they want to feel at home wherever they go, no matter how long they stay. It is likely that they have higher expectations of the place and the host than most guests. While there are many lodging options, from hotels to hostels, vacation rentals are a popular choice. If necessary, try to accommodate the need for a dedicated workspace.
Approximately one billion tourists traverse the globe each year, making many properties vulnerable to frequent and sometimes bad vacation rental guests. Digital Nomads are generally among the most trouble-free travellers. Digital nomads enjoy travelling and are courteous towards their neighbours and fellow guests, as well as the vacation rental property as a temporary residence.
Vacation rentals should start targeting Digital Nomads for the low season, offering them the best deals as they are able to travel any time of the year. Most of them prefer to go to a country they have never been to before and the seasons don't matter that much to them. More people are now able to do it and for longer periods as they have a monthly income that covers their expenses.
80% of Digital Nomads feel that online reviews are very important in helping to make decisions such as what vacation rental to choose. 56% said they would write reviews of their travel experience as they understand how important this is for future guests. That being said property managers / hosts must scrupulously monitor their online reputations if they hope to attract Digital travellers.
It is necessary for digital nomads to manage their time between working and taking advantage of local attractions. Provide them with a space where managing their time is easier so they can be more productive.
Let's deep dive into what factors contribute to their decision to choose a vacation rental.
Providing the appropriate amenities is key. Think about what it takes to make the bleisure audience choose your vacation rental, what are their needs and preferences? Here is a list that you can use to upgrade your amenities.
Outlets for charging electronics such as phones, tablets, laptops, Etc. Consider having multiple plug sockets, universal adapter plugs, charging cables, extension cords etc.
Photocopier, printer, and scanner access. (Three-in-one printers are now commonly available)
Stationery supplies such as notepads, pencils, pens, etc.
Furniture that is sturdy and comfortable for long work hours
Space large enough for a workstation
Contactless check-in and checkout options
Free water bottles
*Getting unlimited free coffee and snacks will be a bonus!
Your property may struggle to attract guests at certain times of the year, but you can take advantage of this by offering irresistible discounts for long-term stays. That way, your property won’t be vacant in the low season. Discounts may be offered, such as
"Stay 10 nights and get the 11th for free". (However, digital nomads rarely consider cost when making a decision)
Provide a weekly or monthly excursion service. You can even promote them as additional services or experiences that can be added to a reservation.
Offer one meal free for stays over 2 weeks or 50% off on all meals for stays longer than 1 month.
Pro tip: Keep the offerings fresh and show them there will always be something new and interesting to do no matter how long they stay with you.
While digital nomads choose your vacation rental for their work-cation, part of the appeal is also to explore the locality. Working from anywhere gives them flexibility in how they divide up the day. For this audience, a place's appeal is not only based on the accommodation but also on the locality amidst activities they could engage in. Take time to advertise your top attractions in the area. Among the interests of a digital nomad lifestyle are coffee houses, boutiques, and yoga studios. Many places of interest can also include local museums, excursions, local pubs etc. You should also include on your homepage any unique features such as a great view, private pool, or local attractions that will draw a guest's attention.
Are pets allowed on your property? If so, consider being less pet-restrictive. Offering pet-friendly vacation rentals to digital nomads who travel for longer periods can be a huge benefit to your business, as pet parents they can work from anywhere with their furry companions.
Offering co-working spaces may be a good idea if your property is a relatively large accommodation you are hoping to attract digital nomads to.
Co-working spaces are typically large, open office spaces with workstations, printers, office supplies, whiteboards, and a couple of computers. (Though most usually bring their own laptops) These co-working spaces offer a more unique working environment and provide focus. Another advantage of having a dedicated workspace can be beneficial to guests to have a professional-looking background during video calls/conferences. It may also appeal to short-term business travellers that may only be with you for a few days.
Many digital nomads like to have a dedicated workspace and a separate living space to return to when it's time to unwind and sleep.
Pro Tip: Partnering with a co-working space in your area is a good idea if your space is small. You can place a small advert on their notice board or website. You'll gain an advantage by targeting this specific demographic of digital nomads since they're either already in your area or looking to move there.
You can fill awkward-length calendar gaps left by guests who arrive and depart on weekends by accepting last-minute bookings. Ensure that potential guests have a way to contact you directly (for example, the Direct Booking page) so that you can initiate the conversation quickly.
The lives and careers of digital nomads are oriented around maintaining a strong online presence. Therefore, they are always looking for websites with locations that cater to their niche. There are some listing sites that specialize in digital nomad accommodations. Offering features like high-speed internet and multiple on-site work locations, they cater to digital nomads key criteria.
Some of the major OTAs have caught on to the trend to cater to this niche audience of digital nomads. These include Plum Guide, Airbnb, VRBO to name a few. Their pages feature remote-work amenities that cater to digital nomads, specialities and interests that have become a key highlight.
Offering community activities and programs is a great way for digital nomads to connect with fellow guests. These initiatives would benefit in the long term. Plan things like weekly movie nights or yoga classes when attendees have time for socializing and getting to know each other. An array of activities of this nature would certainly boost the appeal factor on a digital nomad's radar!
Nowadays, one of the most common methods for asking questions and finding out information is through social media. Facebook plays an integral role in this context because it allows multiple online groups, bursting with like-minded people sharing information with one another all at the same time. If you are looking to attract digital nomads to your vacation rental, then social media is a great way to advertise it.
Pro Tip: Direct them to your vacation rental website for secure bookings.
Here are a few tips that you need to know about ranking high on the listing site and turning clicks into bookings targeting Digital Nomads.
First impressions count. A booking is typically initiated after guests browse the photos. Make sure the main thumbnail picture is eye-catching and the photos in the listing cover all the main amenities, workspaces, location views, and a few locality pictures are also included.
Assess your competition and understand your customer profile. What will be the best competitive price to convert a click into a confirmed booking? Assess your amenities, location and services. Prices can be tailored according to the season, local events, or special requests such as long term rental options. You don't want to lose customers over a few dollars.
The last thing anyone wants is to wait when booking their vacation rental home. Staying on top of guest communication and responding swiftly will raise your booking rates and demonstrate your accessibility once the guest is on-premises.
Potential guests inspect the review section. There’s no better way to assume what their experience would be like than hearing what previous guests had to say. Five-star ratings mean that your property is more appealing to guests.
The goal is to sell the listing, but honesty and guarantees are an integral part of the vacation rental industry, so only promise what you can deliver. Don’t forget to showcase your property as a home office and include a few amenities in the description that advertise your space to digital nomads.
You could offer regular cleaning services, a bottle of wine to greet guests, or dining vouchers to a local restaurant. These little details will make your “nomadic guests” keep coming back to your rental or rather opt for extended stays!
Catering your vacation rental to digital nomads - is not only lucrative, but reliable and opportunities are ever-growing. Scale your vacation rental and upgrade a few amenities if you must. It is important to be flexible and dynamic in order to attract as many reservations as possible.
We at Hostaway can help you streamline and amp up bookings all year round. We offer an array of services along with our state-of-the-art Property Management System which comes integrated with its very own channel manager. We invite you to schedule a demo with one of our product experts to learn how Hostaway can fit your vacation rental business and help you achieve growth.
Take your vacation rental to the next phase with a consistent income source by implementing these vacation rental tips to cater to the next boom in the travel trade. You might just become the next perfect place for digital nomads!