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They travel the world, work remotely in coffee shops, public libraries and co-working spaces and owe their peripatetic lifestyle to smart phones, computers and reliable WiFi. They're digital nomads, international citizens of the internet age, and they're a ripe market for savvy vacation rental managers.
No one knows exactly how many digital nomads are currently on the move, but experts agree this globe-trotting tribe has grown by leaps in recent years due to improved technology, a changing job market and inexpensive flights.
Fueling this growth are two main groups — millennials who want to take time off from traditional work and aging baby boomers who have the money and flexibility to travel, according to The New York Times. Most are freelancers, writers and creative industry types. But increasingly large companies like Google and Dell have remote workers. This latter contingent is expected to grow.
What do digital nomads want in a destination? Cost of living, internet speed and weather are big factors. Pioneering digitals flocked to Chiang Mai, Thailand and Bali due to their low cost of living and reasonably high quality of life. But the nomadic world has opened up like a great big oyster to include places as far-flung and diverse as Budapest, Hungary; Medellín, Colombia; Ho Chi Min City, Vietnam; and Fresno, California. Nomad List, a crowd-sourced database of nomad-friendly world cities, compiles the world's the top digital nomad destinations. Your area may be next.
Check out these six reasons why digital nomads may be a good fit for your vacation rental business.
Digitals travel year round and are on the lookout for good prices. High season isn't for them, but they may be just the renters you need during slow times, particularly if your area has decent off-season weather and offers appealing things to do after most vacationers leave.
Their roots may be shallow, but digitals usually settle in for at least a month and often longer to explore everything an area offers. They may be just the renters you need for properties that might otherwise be vacant for long stretches.
Digitals aren't your typical guests who drive two hours to your vacation rental properties. They're out to see the world. To digitals from overseas your beachside houses, fresh-caught crab and locally brewed beer can be alluring, even exotic. Once you've successfully put up a group of nomadic Australian computer programmers or a family of Latvian novelists they'll tell their friends and colleagues.
A property that doesn't have top-notch technology and powerful WiFi is a dealbreaker for digital nomads. The New York Times cites a nomadic boomer couple who gave up staying at homes booked through Airbnb because internet connectivity was not dependable. But you know everything about the properties you manage, which means you can place nomads in accommodations where the WiFi is always humming. Build a reputation for having impeccable connectivity and word will spread among digitals.
Being a nomad can be lonely. Digitals want to mix with other digitals. Coordinate your rentals. Place digitals in houses near other digitals, and let them know they're not alone.
Tasting local life in a far-flung locale is a big part of the digital nomad experience. Digitals want to mix with local people, taste local food, explore local sights. We discussed the importance of helping guests live like locals in a previous blog. You're most likely taking this approach already. Know that your digital guests will appreciate it.