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Three Important Keys to Attracting and Keeping Digital Nomads

Digital nomads need the connectivity of their hospitality destinations to be as exceptional as their own frequently sought-after skills are.

Digital nomads—people who travel freely to work where and when they want—have been around as long as the first laptop computers. Digital nomads can spend more time at hotels than they do at home, and indeed many don’t even maintain a permanent home at all. Now that remote work has gone from being a rare curiosity to an accepted post-COVID business model, digital nomads are more numerous than ever.

Hospitality providers have a big stake in this trend. Not only are these workers experienced travelers, but they are also, as a necessity, highly tech-savvy. When they check in to your hotel, they’re actually coming home, heading to work, or both—and like any home or office, they count on certain amenities and conveniences to keep them happy at work and play. Their needs are not the same as the typical vacationing family or overnight sales trip guest; digital nomads need the connectivity of their hospitality destinations to be as exceptional as their own frequently sought-after skills are.

After many years in sales for network infrastructure suited to the hospitality industry, I’ve seen next-generation technologies come and go. We’ve come a long way from the 20-pound laptop connected to a three-foot Cat4 Ethernet cable; today’s digital nomads are looking for the best of the best and hospitality destinations should make it a priority to deliver them. 

Here are three of the most significant connectivity capabilities that I’ve found matter most to digital nomads:

1. Turnkey network access. 

For all the advantages of short-term homestays, the one headache we’re all familiar with is the unreliable, unpredictable and sometimes downright bizarre network connectivity schemes you may find there. This uncertainty can be a dealbreaker for many digital nomads, who expect their connectivity to just work. As a hotel, you can ensure a more consistent, higher-quality experience if you provide the right network design. This goes beyond the basic table stakes of coverage and capacity to include a more holistic suite of features like low latency, network reliability, security and scalability. 

To deliver on all of these priorities, hoteliers must design their networks around a combined hardware/software wired and wireless LAN network that simplifies on-premises infrastructure. The ideal solution leverages cloud architectures and AI-driven network monitoring and optimization to confirm that all those KPIs are being consistently met, from the parking lot to poolside to the penthouse and everywhere in between. 

It's also worth mentioning that such powerful, ubiquitous connectivity is critical for hospitality destinations to accurately build and use guest profiles, improving guest experiences and encouraging repeated stays.

2. Simpler BYOD onboarding. 

A related feature to network design, but important enough to deserve its own mention, the device onboarding experience is the first impression you never get a second chance to make. Nothing’s more frustrating than seeing a strong Wi-Fi® signal that your device refuses to connect to, just because the onboarding process is obscure or lacks sufficient security for digital nomads’ work needs.

The sheer number of different devices travelers carry these days can make it difficult for hoteliers to provide simple onboarding for them all, spoiling their experiences and generating a lot of extra work for IT help desks tasked with resolving these problems.

To give digital nomads the simplicity and security they expect from the moment they cross the threshold, hoteliers can deploy a dedicated enrollment system that can provide powerful encryption for the user, confirm that the device is safe for the network with up-front security posture checks and automatically denies unapproved access where necessary with digital certificate-based authentication. Such enrollment systems can also connect guests with specific users’ other devices or other devices in the room, again helping to better build and use guest profiles and support hospitality brand loyalty.

3. Wi-Fi 7—it’s here, and you need to be ready. 

Perhaps the biggest game-changer on deck for hospitality networks right now is the long-anticipated arrival of Wi-Fi 7. While Wi-Fi 6 or 6E is still serviceable for most hospitality settings—including for digital nomads—there can be little doubt that, as always, its increased speed and bandwidth will soon lead to higher-demand devices and applications—and these will first appear in the hands of those same digital nomads.

Wi-Fi 7 offers up to 4.8 times greater network speed and supports twice the data density of Wi-Fi 6. It also offers improved latency, which affects performance for videoconferencing and online gaming alike. As the pinnacle of performance, it’s hardly surprising that the first hospitality deployment of a complete Wi-Fi 7 network was recently completed in the #1 hotel in the world in 2023 as ranked on The Passalacqua in Lake Como, Italy, is among the most enchanting destinations in the world, boasting luxurious baroque elegance, top-tier service and one of the most advanced Wi-Fi networks in Europe.

Digital nomads have heard about Wi-Fi 7 and, early adopters that they are, will soon develop a taste for its performance and will notice when it’s lacking. Providing that level of connectivity will be a key point of differentiation in the years ahead for hospitality providers.

When work and play travel together, they both need the best connectivity available. By applying these three technologies, hospitality destinations can attract and build brand loyalty with the ever-growing digital nomad category. 

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