The era of the digital nomad is here, and it isn’t going away. The pandemic accelerated the remote working trend, helping employers realize that high quality work can be produced in any location, permanently shifting how we all work. Just as the way we work has changed irreversibly, so too has the way we like to travel.
Given more opportunities than before, employees are not limited by where they work -- as long as there is a good Wi-Fi connection. Research by Leavetown.com shows that 81 percent of those surveyed plan to continue to work remotely post pandemic. Some of us have tasted this way of life, and we don’t want to go back.
Being able to set up a desk anywhere in the world has led to an increase in hybrid travel as people begin to mix leisure with work. Twenty-three percent of U.S. remote workers have taken extended trips as a result of working remotely. That’s an interesting trend development for the hospitality industry, particularly for short-term rentals and hotels, as these workers will inevitably need to book accommodation. We are also beginning to see this happening in the UK and Europe.
This rise in extended stays points towards a new way of living and working, and therefore travelling, hailed by Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky as the “new golden era of travel.” With this new market trend is also an opportunity for hotels to profit.
How tech has changed the way we travel
All-in-one tech software has revolutionized the way we travel. For example, a recent study from August Home Inc, found that 60 percent of guests would pay more for smart home features in a short-term rental.
Tailored search platforms, such as Airbnb’s filter ‘For Work’ which makes it easy to find work-suitable environments, have made it much faster for travelers to search for properties that suit their needs. This had led to 15 percent of their reservations becoming business travelers.
Those traveling with the hope of splitting their time efficiently between leisure and work don’t want to waste any of it on processes such as check-ins or coming down to the front desk for requests. They expect a contactless and seamless service, which smart home tech solutions such as keyless locks and communication through apps or SMS messaging, can offer. In fact, 70 percent have said they prefer having smart locks on properties.
Where travelers are choosing to stay
Guests staying in short-term rental properties for longer than 28 days is still up by 20 percent. With rentals such as Airbnb introducing alternative ways to stay, travelers are looking for places with more space, including larger kitchens and living areas.
People are more empowered to work remotely and use this to their advantage to travel for longer with family. And as we leave the pandemic behind us, more and more families are getting back together, requiring spacious, self-contained accommodation.
Marriott Hotels understands the opportunity presented by remote workers and extended stays, and is getting into short-term rentals in a big way with the launch of Marriott Homes and Villas - which has grown by eight times in less than two years.
Three ways hotels can benefit from this growing market
- Tailored amenities
Create a work-friendly environment by providing fast, reliable Wi-Fi. Set up an area with a desk, a chair comfortable enough for a long day of sitting and, if possible, some level of privacy from the rest of the property. Partner with tech solutions to offer your guests seamless efficiency during their stay. You could even go the extra mile by offering services such as renting screen monitors.
Consider adding a kitchen area to some rooms. With a place to prepare food, kitchens allow guests to live, or work, day to day as they would at home and this in turn encourages longer stay bookings (and repeat bookings).
Currently, there aren’t enough short-term rental properties to fulfill demand, Airbnb and VRBO are contending to secure as many new hosts as possible. As many as 30 percent have suggested they’d switch jobs if they had to return to full-time onsite working. So, tailoring your hotel to the needs of a remote worker by adding some of the above amenities could attract the travelers originally searching for a rental to your hotel.
- Use incentives
Those taking on the flexible living lifestyle are likely wanting to stay longer to fit in leisure activities alongside work requirements. So, create win-win pricing and distribution by comparing rates, occupancy and availability to offer guests discounts for longer bookings. This incentive is employed by many Airbnb hosts and it was used 20 percent more than in 2019, suggesting guests are gravitating towards these offers.
- Optimize advertisements
Post pandemic 52 percent who were surveyed prefer a flexible work model, and remote employment relies on good internet. So, if your Wi-Fi speed has been verified, make this clear on your website and in listings.
If you’ve tailored your rooms for digital nomads, make it easy for them to navigate your page by creating a designated filter or page for them to access suitable accommodation options efficiently.
Airbnb’s increase in long-stay reservations in 2021 shows remote workers will book through online travel agencies (OTAs). Ensure your listings are available on these platforms as well as on your own direct booking website.
Is the remote worker traveling trend long term?
Making the above changes to your hotel is not something you decide on lightly. Afterall, are these travel trends temporary, meaning investments lead to loss, or are they here long term?
Airbnb just recorded their best quarter ever, with a 280 percent net income rise to $834 million and revenue of $2.2 billion. Long term stays were down 4 percent compared to their first quarter, but Chief Financial Officer David Stephenson suggested this was due to the increase of short term stays as people become more comfortable with traveling again. Despite this, long term stays were still up by 14 percent compared to the same period in 2019.
Short-term and long-term stays have begun to blend as guests are adopting a trend of traveling, living and working remotely. Flex rentals is an emerging industry term, which is where a property can provide to both types of travelers, and I predict we will hear a lot more about it in 2022.
We’re seeing more investors and developers targeting this market opportunity by redeveloping and building properties that provide the amenities in demand. Let’s see if our travel habits continue to shift as remote working is increasingly embedded in company culture.
About Emmanuel Lavoie
Emmanuel is CEO of Jetstream Hospitality Solutions, an all-in-one technology platform and services solution that provides a powerful way for owners, managers and developers of multi-unit, short-term rental properties to maximize revenues and realize opportunities in the short-term and flexible rental market. Jetstream combines best-in-class marketing expertise and distribution technology with high-quality customer support to deliver guest delight, streamline operations and reduce financial risk. https://jetstreamtech.io/