Opinion.

Understanding remote working to attract millennials

Why ‘digital nomads’ are big business for the hospitality industry

by Mark van der Heijden, Co-Founder & CEO , Wanderbrief

Topic: Guest experience Trends

Click. Takeaway

  • Digital nomads have different needs and challenges to make their wandering lifestyle a success. This represents a huge opportunity for the hospitality industry
  • 3 ways to attract digital nomads: have Wi-Fi faster than Usain Bolt; make your social space digital nomad-friendly; and partner up with remote companies
  • If you built relationships with top remote companies they are likely to be more willing to send their employees to you.

I empty my inbox overlooking the glaciers of Iceland. The view is stunning. Tomorrow I meet up with an investor at a rooftop in Amsterdam. In a few weeks I’ll be working from Roam, a co-living space in the rainforest of Bali. I can work from wherever I want, whenever I want. I’m a typical millennial and so-called ‘digital nomad’. In other words; a professional who can work from anywhere in the world.

Digital nomads represent a growing movement of millennials who combine work and travel. Who says you have to come to the same office building every day to pay off the mortgage for your house? For them, freedom is the new wealth. They collect stamps in their passport instead of stuff in their houses. With the technology available today they work wherever the Wi-Fi connects. I’m not talking about a bunch of lazy backpackers flipping coins on where to get drunk that night. These are hard-working professionals, freelancers and entrepreneurs. People who design their lives for location independence. Don’t be fooled by the assumption that most digital nomads are singles. More and more families with kids are joining the remote work revolution.

Who says you have to come to the same office building every day to pay off the mortgage for your house?

Digital nomads have different needs and challenges to make their wandering lifestyle a success. This represents a huge opportunity for the hospitality industry. But how do you tap into this emerging market? Why would they come to you? I’ve been working remotely for the last four and a half years, have travelled to 49 countries on all seven continents and now run a 100% remote company called Wanderbrief. We help professionals work remotely while travelling the world. Based on that experience, and insights from our global community of 10,000 remote workers from 90 countries, I’d like to share three ways that’ll help you to attract digital nomads – making their business, your business.

3 ways to attract digital nomads

Have Wi-Fi faster than Usain Bolt

Home is where the Wi-Fi is free. It’s the first thing that digital nomads check out when they’re searching for a place to stay (and work). But they’re not just checking their email like an ordinary business traveller does. They’re downloading a 4K Full HD 360 VR video for a freelance project, while streaming the latest season of ‘Stranger Things’ on Netflix and sending their team updates via Slack. They want the luxury to do this from their room, the restaurant and even the pool. If you invest in fast, reliable Wi-Fi, the digital nomads will come.

Make your social space digital nomad-friendly

Digital nomads work remotely but they’re not robots (yet). Just like all of us they need human connection and interaction. In fact, loneliness is a common problem among this group. The more you give them a sense of belonging, the bigger the chance they will stay longer (and come back). Start now and transform your meeting room into a co-working space. Redefine the hotel lobby and create a stage where people can pitch their ideas and give inspirational talks to other guests. A great example of a company that totally nails this is Zoku.

Partner up with remote companies

An increasing number of companies see the value of remote working, which makes total sense. You can hire the best talent from all over the world. There is no morning commute anymore, which saves time (and the planet), and it improves employees’ happiness. It also saves real estate costs since you don’t need an office space for them. Yet they still love to give their remote employees a great place to work and sleep.

If you built relationships with top remote companies they are likely to be more willing to send their employees to you. In addition to this, remote companies occasionally meet up in real life. When they finally do, they go all out. If you invite them and organise the best office retreat they ever had, they will remember you forever and tell all their remote friends about you.

Digital nomads are the business travellers of 2018. Your rooms will be packed once you understand how to serve their needs. All you have to do now is open your doors. Show them that their house and office is your very own accommodation.

Mark van der Heijden is a creative entrepreneur from Amsterdam

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