The Best Ways your Boutique Hotel or Resort can Attract & Tailor your Property to Today’s Digital Nomad (with or without Extended Visa Programs)
Employers and employees worldwide have recently been forced to work out of their home offices as a result of the global COVID pandemic. On the bright side, this empowerment has reinforced that in today’s global economy many of us can work wherever we would like so long as our goals and deliverables are still achieved for our employers. As a result, today’s hoteliers are working to develop extended visa programs and tourism incentives with their respective governments to allure and attract today’s digital nomads to work remotely in their destination. However, these very attractive programs and lifestyles are not getting the adoption they are looking for. So what seems to be the bottleneck and problem here?
While the notion and concept of a remote job in a beautiful white sandy beach somewhere sounds perfect in theory, the obstacles for government agencies with these programs is to more easily facilitate and guide visitors through the process. Educating and illuminating guests by “showing, not telling” what this active digital nomad lifestyle entails just as hotels do from a consumer standpoint is key to increasing accessibility and adoption of these extended stay programs. For foreign government agencies and hotels alike, the opportunity for more reliable and sustainable income in tax revenue is extremely attractive. Additional benefits to the destinations are more visibility for more short-term tourism on one end of the equation, as well as the opportunity for new business, citizenship and long-term infrastructure development through remote workers enhancing the global connectivity and enhancements in these destinations. To achieve these outcomes, a similar consumer-first-oriented approach needs to be taken, especially given that these affluent individuals are more familiar with a concierge-style of approach than the historical digital nomad that has been more of a backpacker on a budget. The following recommendations are critical characteristics of a campaign to assist hoteliers, resorts and government agencies alike in increasing the adoption of extended-stay visa programs.
Guide them through the Process
As a result of COVID and consumers online shopping more regularly, their expectations around an online experience have been enhanced. Providing seamless experiences and a customer journey of micro-moment after micro-moment that leads them to your desired outcome, in this case applying for an extended visa program or booking a longer duration at your hotel, is essential to show the thoughtfulness and intention to their needs. Building trust, providing information and showing, not merely telling, is critical to building consumer confidence around how to adopt and live this lifestyle abroad. Having an application form or synopsis isn’t sufficient anymore, especially when tailoring to a more affluent audience. It is critical to nurture and shepherd consumers through the process. Just as if a guest were to stay at your hotel and in their research process they want to know about the area, culture, activities, food and more. Today’s eager and anxious employees are seeking to travel abroad for extended periods of time, but need this and learn guidance and information. More thorough and robust know before you go documents, checklists, cultural information and integration of resources are imperative to reinstill consumer confidence and alleviate concerns for these perspectives travelers.
Create Visibility & Transparency about the Lifestyle
While the allure of working remotely is extremely attractive for individuals quarantined and eager to gain life and cultural experiences, there is not enough information or visibility into exactly what this lifestyle looks like for them to take that leap of faith. Through videos, testimonials, resources and social media, companies and government agencies are able to show prospective travelers what this remote working lifestyle entails. Bringing to life what it takes to secure healthcare, legal counsel, local SIM cards for your cell phone, or access to local gyms and community activities alleves traveler’s concerns by showcasing many of the unknown and uncharted components to traveling for months at a time.
Since these guests are looking to increase their quality-of-life and play proportionally more in these communities, illuminating tips and tricks for productivity and how to effectively work abroad is meaningful to these guests as well. Sharing software that increases efficiency and productivity, time management resources or means to collaborate efficiently from a mobile device with the rest of your team are great mechanisms to reinforce hell in today’s global marketplace employees true we can work from anywhere.
Set Expectations for Travelers
Extended travels for weeks or months on end is an anomaly for many travelers. Typically an extended weekend or week is the extent of mini guests travels and a whole different ball game than living abroad for many months, potentially longer. The cultural integration and adoption of this lifestyle brings some drastic changes to their quality of life. Providing resources and setting expectations for travelers about what healthcare, grocery shopping, cultural norms and manners, etc. in your country entails will prove beneficial. For many, they might not recognize accessibility to just purchase any product off Amazon that isn’t readily available in your country. They will need to take inventory of their needs and bulk up on them upon our return to the states or pay to have them be shipped and taxed upon their entry. Equally, travelers shouldn’t expect to sign a lease or move into a place month-to-month upon arrival. Staying at a coworking hotel, such as Selena Hotels, for a week or two to get a lay of the land, which part of town they really want to reside in and fits their needs is important in the first few weeks to truly get their bearings and set themselves up for an ideal experience in your country. While there are many more expectations that should be reset and brought to light for prospective visitors, the important thing is to note them and not have guests be surprised or not have resources to navigate these potential concerns.
Provide Access to Local Resources
While larger online travel agencies such as Hotels.com or TripAdvisor can be a wonderful resource for what activities and destinations to see in a region, they certainly are not the end-all. Many of the day-to-day things in our culture are so integrated with retake for advantage as we have our systems in place around them. For new visitors and guests to your country, many of these day-to-day mundane things can be a nuisance if not properly handled. It is a good idea to provide resources and checklists for your future digital nomads. Some of the common things that are important to share with a foreigner seeking to get integrated into your community or things like the adoption of local currency versus their domestic ones, healthcare plans, banking, legal and even things like daycare for families. ‘Know before you go’ documents about the weather, seasonality shifts, local aesthetics and attire, transportation by bike, taxi, bus or otherwise can be extremely beneficial in educating visitors and helping them more seamlessly navigate a positive experience. Make thorough lists around these common categories, your destinations and lifestyle components that prospective guests can use to curb their learning curve about your area and better get immersed into the culture.
Facilitate Integration into the Community
Just because someone is willing to take this leap of faith that they are an extrovert or can easily befriend locals in the community. Facilitate local mentors, chaperones or champions of the area that can be a further resource to answer questions that emerge for these digital nomads. Remote Year did a wonderful job at having these individuals with knowledge about the area at the discretion of their guests as they traveled from destinations to destinations. Similar to a concierge or front desk at a hotel, these individuals can bolster the community, integrate and provide other resources to enhance the overall guest’s experience.
Where else can people get involved in the community? Outside of accessing the local gym, yoga studio or beach workout, what can digital nomads do to get integrated into the community? How and where are their resources to get involved in local nonprofits, teaching English, sharing their trade, craft or skill with the local community at large? Remote workers are wanting the experience of all of the incredible destinations and sites you have to offer but equally powerful is providing a gateway to help bridge them with the locals and harness all of the intellectual property, knowledge and culture they are also bringing to your community.
Leverage Current Nomad’s Stories & Connection
While last in this list, it certainly does not mean it is of least importance. In actuality, harnessing other testimonials and experiences from guests is one of the most impactful ways to garner trust and instill confidence in prospective visitors. Just as at any corporate organization or hierarchy, a top-down approach at times can be appropriate and beneficial and the experience and insight from a fellow peer or colleague in other circumstances can carry the same if not more weight. Documenting and showcasing other digital nomads that have an opportunity to share their experience, nuances, tips and tricks, and hidden gems of your country can be a great way to not only increase adoption and engagement with the program but enroll them to be advocates and champions for this cause as well. Identify a handful of remote workers with different experiences, backgrounds, industries they represent and carefully crafted a subset of questions to clean their perspective and insights for other remote worker’s benefits and to leverage as an organization as well.
Whether you are an international boutique hotel, resort/destination marketing organization, tourism agency or government-affiliated entity, Social Capital Agency is developing various programs, checklists and a digital Nomad series in conjunction with Shelby Nick to help navigate this process for organizations and travelers alike. For more information on how to implement these practices and procedures into your organization, set up a discovery call with our team and we’d be happy to provide some more strategic directions deployment or have our team do some of the heavy lifting for you.