The COVID-19 pandemic forced every industry to reevaluate their assumptions, pivot their strategies, and deeply study their consumers' newly adopted mindsets, lifestyles, and habits. While the hospitality industry was (and still is) greatly affected, domestic travel across the globe continues to increase as international protocols make traveling abroad a headache for most, while looming lockdowns due to new variants hover in the background. Although booking patterns will continue to fluctuate due to these reasons, there is one persona that will keep traveling: the Digital Nomad 2.0.
The mass adoption of remote and hybrid work arrangements has made this lifestyle easily obtainable to the average corporate employee—many of which are able to benefit from flexible work arrangements and staying in geographic locations around the country. This will only continue as corporations pedal back their decisions to ask employees back to the office in a more permanent nature due to the Delta variant.
Digital Nomad 2.0 no longer means travelers need to commit to a year of nomadism, but rather maintain a permanent residence and book sporadic stays throughout the entire calendar year. Weekly and monthly reservations provide flexibility for couples, solo travelers, and parents during their children’s summer vacation and holiday breaks. In fact, vacation rental hopping can be more cost effective (and exciting) than signing a traditional yearlong lease.
So how do you target this growing group that holds such significant spending power? Below are three tips to get your short-term and vacation rentals in order and cater to the expanding travel personas of the Digital Nomad 2.0:
1. Update Your Listings to Highlight WFH Amenities
The professional hosts and property management companies that are succeeding—and many times outperforming their pre-COVID numbers—are those who have upgraded their properties to accommodate comfortable working conditions. It’s becoming essential to have a dedicated, aesthetic workspace in short-term rentals, including a comfortable office chair, good lighting, and fast-speed internet. Listings should tout a stellar Wi-Fi connection, among other essential amenities, that digital nomads now expect in their rental spaces. Highlighting those offerings along with other longer-stay amenities (from full kitchens, to larger closets, to outdoor spaces) will open your property up to the Digital Nomad 2.0 and boost occupancy rates. These livable environments allow nomads to “life shop” and test out living in a new city for short periods of time before committing to a permanent move.
2. Market Domestically Instead of Internationally
For the foreseeable future, domestic tourism will dominate the short-term and vacation rental market in both the United States and abroad. In the U.S. this year, the share of domestic travel (which has always remained relatively high) is up 12%, compared to where it stood pre-COVID, with more than 90% of reservations booked by domestic travelers. Creative marketing is key to tapping into the local consumer—from highlighting staycations and escapes a short drive away from major cities, to offering unique experiences and remote urban detoxes in farther-flung, off-the-beaten-track destinations. Consider investing your marketing and advertising budget into targeted social media content and ads in regional media—from Patch news to local digital newspapers. Doing so will go a long way in helping you obtain bookings from guests who are looking to “go near.”
3. Connectivity & Lifestyle
Connectivity isn’t just about the strength of one’s Wi-Fi (although very important). It also means connecting communities and tapping into the camaraderie and social elements one typically gets from an office environment and their local neighborhood. The world experienced the isolation of the pandemic and can better understand the importance of connection. You’re no longer just marketing accommodation, but rather lifestyle and inspiration. The Digital Nomad 2.0 is searching for unique experiences—whether that be in a building’s co-working space, a local yoga class, happy hours, or a short-term rental that partners with local restaurants, cafes, and shops. As consumers continue to opt for private rentals and aparthotels over traditional hotel stays, property management companies need to take this into account. Take the tech-forward hospitality brand Mint House that now offers Mint Pass, for example. An annual membership specifically catered to the Digital Nomad 2.0 allows members to hop, sleep, and jump between any Mint House property and immediately tap into a community in Austin, Columbus, Detroit, Denver, Minneapolis, Greenville, Louisville, Miami, Nashville or New York.
The Time is Now
The new era of digital nomadism has arrived and presents a unique opportunity for property managers and owners across the country to experiment with fresh marketing strategies, gain new guests, increase occupancy, and possibly recoup 2020 losses. Don’t sit still and wait for travel to fully normalize. Find out what this new segment can do for your business. Whether managing charming vacation rentals surrounded by nature or condos in the heart of a downtown location, know that Americans are exploring new regions of the country and discovering that they can find unique experiences locally rather than abroad. From beaches and hiking trails to new culinary adventures and cities they’ve never visited before—you should want to be a part of it.