Introduction: The Rising Trend of Digital Nomads and Why You Should Care
Digital nomadism has been a growing trend over the last decade, one in which we’re in full support of here at Dtravel. As a fully remote company focused on developing direct booking infrastructure for vacation rentals, our team understands firsthand why short-term rental operators should be targeting digital nomads and how to do so successfully.
Growth in the digital nomad lifestyle has accelerated as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic with more companies globally loosening their corporate policies and allowing employees to work outside the confines of an office.
As of 2023, there “are an estimated 55 million digital nomads worldwide”, a number that is expected to grow significantly over the next few years. These aren’t just young backpackers traveling the world on a budget either. Digital nomads are skilled professionals who are an average of 34 years old and typically work in technology, software and marketing. The average salary of a digital nomad is $124,034 USD per year with 34% making between $50,000 to $100,000 USD and 36% of nomads making between $100,000 to $250,000 USD globally.
As short-term rental operator there are five main reasons why you should be considering targeting this valuable guest segment:
- Digital nomads have a unique guest profile and are currently underserved by the hospitality industry
- Nomads are experienced travelers who, on average, travel significantly more than others
- Nomads who are budget conscious and value a tailored booking experience want to book directly to avoid online travel agency (OTA) fees and for flexibility
- They congregate digitally, discuss trips and seek local advice and look for directly bookable accommodation options in various online communities
- They are working professionals and earn an above average income with a high ability to spend on accommodation bookings and add-on services
- They typically stay longer, resulting in less guest turnover, cleaning and maintenance
Throughout this guide, we’ll discuss each of these points in more detail and provide you with the ways you can optimize and market your listings so that you can increase bookings, earn more profit and turn your properties into magnets for digital nomads.
Here's what we cover:
- Introduction: The Rising Trend of Digital Nomads and Why You Should Care
- Understanding the Digital Nomad Persona
- Digital Nomad Travel Patterns and Preferences
- Digital Nomad Booking Behaviours: Direct Bookings Win
- Optimizing Your Short-Term Rental Listings
- Leveraging Online Travel Agency (OTA) Listings to Increase Direct Bookings
- Creating a Modern Direct Booking Website
- Implementing Content Marketing Strategies
- Partnering with Co-Working Spaces
- Digital Nomad WhatsApp and Facebook groups
- Bonus: Gain Access to a Global Directory for Digital Nomad Facebook and WhatsApp Groups - For Free!
Bonus: Gain Access to our Global Digital Nomad Directory
At the end of this guide we’ll provide you with a cheat code for direct bookings by supplying you with a global directory for digital nomad groups. This directory will enable you to get your properties in front of this desirable guest segment for free.
Understanding the Digital Nomad Persona
To effectively target digital nomads, it's essential to understand their persona and motivations.
What is a Digital Nomad?
Digital nomads are professionals who leverage technology to work remotely from different locations worldwide.
They can be categorized as follows:
- Slowmads: Spend at least 2-3 months in each location.
- Part-time Nomads: Often have a home base or fixed address and can only be away from the office for a couple months at time.
- Full-time Nomads: Typically no fixed address, travel frequently and work remotely all year round.
However, all digital nomads seek accommodation options that offer reliable high-speed internet, comfortable workspaces, and proximity to major landmarks, activities, transportation and other nomad-centric communities. Understanding their needs is a crucial first step for short-term rental operators to be able to tailor their marketing efforts effectively.
Digital Nomad Demographics
In terms of demographics, around 50% of digital nomads are from the United States with countries like the United Kingdom, Russia, Canada, Germany and France following behind.
Interestingly, 63% of digital nomads are male with 36% being female and 1% as other. As described by their lifestyle, 63% of nomads are single.
Average age: 34 years old
Education: 90% bachelor degree or higher
Employment: 46% self-employed / 35% employed
Average salary: $124,034 per year
Biggest Challenges Digital Nomads Face
Understanding the challenges digital nomads face can help you become a wealth of knowledge. By sharing information about your local area, you can turn your listings into lead magnets for digital nomads.
Understanding the challenges digital nomads face can help you become a wealth of knowledge. By sharing information about your local area, you can turn your listings into lead magnets for digital nomads.
The biggest challenges digital nomads face when choosing where to book are:
- Knowing where to go in the months ahead
- Researching options on where to stay
- Understanding the proximity of stays to points of interest
- Understanding visa and travel restrictions and rules
- Digital nomads return home out of loneliness, missing friends and family.
By keeping these challenges in mind, you can customize your approach to ensure you’re providing value for nomads around these areas.
Digital Nomad Travel Patterns and Preferences
Digital nomads are a unique breed of travelers, driven by a desire for freedom, flexibility, and meaningful experiences. Their travel patterns and preferences are shaped by a distinct blend of work and leisure (called bleisure), as they embark on a journey of discovery while maintaining a productive remote work lifestyle.
On average, 53% of digital nomads stay in one city for longer than 7 days and 40% stay in one country for more than 30 days.
Travel trends tend to depend on cost of living, fast internet connection and welcoming policies.
As of 2023, the top 5 destinations in the world:
- Mexico City
- Chiang Mai
Digital Nomad Booking Behaviours: Direct Bookings Win
While popular platforms like Airbnb have been widely used by travelers, digital nomads often favour direct booking channels for a number of reasons.
Digital nomads place a high priority on their work. Their lifestyle depends on it. Direct bookings provide a more personalized and direct communication channel with property owners or managers, allowing them to get on a phone or WhatsApp call to inquire about specific amenities, work-related facilities, or even negotiate flexible terms for extended stays.
Second, direct bookings can often offer cost savings, as they bypass the commission fees charged by third-party booking platforms like Airbnb, which can be exorbitant for a long term stay. By choosing to book directly with a property manager, digital nomads can sometimes secure better rates or take advantage of exclusive discounts and incentivized long-term stays.
Despite direct bookings being the preference for digital nomads, discovering directly bookable stays isn’t as easy as browsing an online travel agency (OTA). That’s why digital nomads rely heavily on online communities and word of mouth referrals for recommendations. Later on in this guide we’ll dive into how you can leverage online communities to get your listings in front of this valuable guest segment.
Optimizing Your Short-Term Rental Listings
In the competitive world of short-term rentals, capturing the attention of digital nomads requires more than just a catchy headline and a few standard amenities listed. In this section, we'll explore strategies for optimizing your listings to grab attention and increase direct bookings.
1. Emphasize Work-Friendly Features
- Highlight the workspace you have available
- Note ergonomic furniture, quiet environment and high speed wifi
- Add internet upload and download speed, latency, etc.
- Note distances to nearby co-working spaces or cafes with reliable internet
2. Showcase Proximity to Points of Interests and Attractions
- List out proximity to beaches, fitness centers, hiking destinations, yoga studios, restaurants, bars, cafes, etc.
- Note where your property is located in reference to local events and festivals
- Include walking distance and time to transportation options like metro, bus and city bikes
3. Tailor Amenities for Digital Nomad Lifestyle
- Note essentials like the ability to make coffee and tea
- Highlight amenities like a fully-equipped kitchen, ensuite laundry facilities, etc.
- Consider upgrades like a standing desk, adjustable lighting, universal converters, etc.
- If you have a balcony or patio, highlight this as a secondary office
- Provide access to in building yoga studio or gym if possible
4. High-Quality and Clean Photos
- Ensure your property is professionally cleaned and tidy
- Capture photos using bright natural lighting when possible
- Highlight all digital nomad friendly amenities described in listing
5. Highlight Flexible Booking Options
- Provide flexible booking options for nomads
- Mention the possibility to customize bookings
- Offer discounted rates for long-term stays
6. Leverage Local Communities
- Note unique characteristics of your property’s neighborhood
- Mention nearby co-working spaces, digital nomad meetups or networking events
- A sense of community can be significant selling point for many nomads
7. Showcase Reviews from Previous Digital Nomad Guests
- Social proof is crucial for digital nomads when choosing accommodations
- Add positive reviews or testimonials to your listing description and photos
- Testimonials should highlight the property's work environment or location
Leveraging Online Travel Agency (OTA) Listings to Increase Direct Bookings
As we mentioned at the beginning of this post, digital nomads are experienced travelers who prefer to book directly with owners and property managers. Did you know you can safely use your OTA listing as a lead magnet for direct bookings?
First things first, you’re going to need a direct booking site. If you don’t already have one, then don’t worry, we’ll cover how to set one up in minutes, for free!
Once you have a direct booking site, you can simply include your brand name in your OTA listing description. For example, end your listing description with something like:
This apartment is managed by [Insert brand name]
Even if you only have one apartment, you should really consider purchasing a domain for your brand so that anyone can easily discover your direct booking site with a quick Google search.
You might also want to create a few social profiles (e.g. Facebook, Instagram, etc.) using the same brand name so that if a prospective guest can’t find your direct booking site right away they could discover it through one of your social accounts.
Tip: How to Turn OTA Bookings into Direct Bookings
Follow up with your guests every time you get a booking and ask for their contact information. Send an email confirming their reservation and add a link to your direct booking site, letting your guest’s know they can save considerably by booking directly.
Halfway through their stay, send a reminder to let them know that if they would like to extend their trip, to do so by booking directly. At the end of their visit, send another message with a reminder that if they would like to return or their friends and family may like to stay, they can book direct and save on OTA commission fees.
If you really want to experiment with getting more direct bookings from you OTA listings then you could try adding a direct booking site linked QR code to one of your photos. Just beware, this may go against the OTA's terms of service...
Creating a Modern Direct Booking Website
If you don’t already have a direct booking site or would like to upgrade your existing one then this section is for you. We’ll explain why direct booking sites are important, especially for targeting digital nomads and how you can begin to grow your profits by creating one for free.
Why You Should Have a Direct Booking Site
First of all, if you want to begin targeting digital nomads, it helps to have an easy way to facilitate direct bookings. With a direct booking site, you’ll be able to accept payments without having to deal with bank transfers, easily customize bookings, offer discounts and incentives, all while generating more profit than if you would have received the same booking through an OTA. A direct booking site gives you more control over your business and confidence in knowing that you can operate no matter what.
If you don’t have a direct booking site or would like to upgrade your existing one then you can get started in minutes with Dtravel Direct.
The best part is, you only pay a 3% transaction fee when you process a booking. No recurring monthly subscription fees. You can even feel at ease with the ability to add a $5M Damage Protection Plan to your listings and free Guest Screening.
Now, let’s look at what makes a good direct booking site and how it can help you attract digital nomads.
Ensure a User-Friendly, Mobile-First Booking Experience
Digital nomads are tech saavy and spend a lot of time on their devices, making them comfortable with mobile bookings.
- Mobile-first design reduces friction and increases booking conversion
- Prioritize a responsive design, adaptable to various devices
- A streamlined navigation and fast loading speed is essential
- Add mobile-friendly payment options like Google and Apple Pay
- Offer click-to-call and click-to-email options for streamlined communication
Incorporating Secure and Convenient Booking Processes
Your direct booking site should not only look professional, but it should implement the most up-to-date security measures to ensure guest privacy and data protection.
- Prioritize SSL encryption, secure and trusted payment gateways
- Direct communication channels like email and WhatsApp to create trust
Implementing Instant Booking and Flexible Cancellation Policies
Making your properties instantly bookable with flexible cancellation policies adds familiarity and comfort, which will help boost your conversion rates.
- Cater to spontaneous travelers with an instant booking experience
- Appeal to digital nomads who decide on their next destination a week or days before
- Make your cancellation policies more flexible to appeal to digital nomads.
Offering Diverse Payment Options to Limit Fees
Attract guests from around the world by offering diverse payment options that appeal to a range of guests.
- Diverse payment options reduce friction and result in higher conversion rates
- Payment options can include major credit cards and digital wallets
- Integrate with Stripe to offer Google Pay and Apple Pay for faster checkout
- Book-Now-Pay-Later helps guest manage expenses while ensuring you get an upfront payment
- Help guest eliminate foreign exchange fees by accepting cryptocurrency
Boost Conversion, Revenue with Personalization and Upsells
You can really customize the guest experience with a direct booking site.
- Provide complimentary personalization through direct communication channels
- Add upsells or add-ons for an additional fee at checkout to increase average checkout value
- Consider what services or amenities you’re willing to offer
- Digital nomads may require airport transfer, sporting equipment, early-check in, etc.
- Easily boost revenue by charging a fee for these services or rentals
- Be sure not to charge for everything as this reduces your competitive advantage
Leveraging User-Generated Content and Reviews
Social proof is key to converting guests, especially for those in the digital nomad community.
- Import reviews from Airbnb, VRBO or Booking.com if you’re just starting out
- Ask past guests to add a review to your direct booking site
- Use reviews as testimonials on your homepage, listing pages, and in social media
Own the Digital Nomad Niche in Your Location
If you think of your direct booking site as a valuable resource for digital nomads then you’ll begin attracting more of the right guests. We’ll talk about this in more detail in a later section of this guide, but for now, here are some key points:
- Highlight amenities that make your stays unique and particularly attractive
- Mention how your stays are setup for remote work on your homepage and FAQ
- Create a location-based blog, covering topics specifically for digital nomads
- Focus on “The Best…” and the “Top 10…” lists (e.g. co-working spaces, cafes, etc.)
- Provide resources on how to get around, how to find meetups and events, etc.
- Ensure your listings are available in currencies most often booked by your guests
- If your guests are often from a particular foreign country, considering adding translations
Offer Flexible Rental Options
Flexible cancellation policies are of utmost importance for digital nomads as a result of ever-changing work schedules, travel plans, and evolving needs.
- Consider providing lenient or customizable cancellation policies
- If this concerns you, then consider offering flexible cancellation for a fee
- Encourage bookings made in advance by offering a better rate
Provide Attractive Discounts for Extended Stays
Offering tiered pricing based on the length of the stay, discounted monthly rates, and seasonal discounts make longer stays more appealing for digital nomads.
- Target slomads with attractive long term pricing
- Incentivize returning guests with an incredible first time experience
- Digital nomads travel and recommend past stays to fellow nomads, leverage this group as your marketing army
Implementing Content Marketing Strategies
Have you ever heard the saying, “Content is King”? Implementing a content marketing strategy to target digital nomads is a slow build, but it’s all worth it in the end.
Content is what can bring in leads, but you’ll need a way to convert them. This is where having a direct booking site comes in.
From a top-down approach, we’ll explain how you can use your direct booking site to hone in on a specific type of traveler (digital nomads) and create content through a blog and social posts to bring the right kind of traffic to your direct booking site, increasing the probability of conversion.
Optimizing SEO for Digital Nomad Keywords
The first thing you want to do when designing a content strategy is to strategically choose keywords so that you can attract the right visitors, in this case, digital nomads, to your direct booking site.
You can think about keywords or “keyphrases” as the right topics that define your direct booking site content. When it comes to SEO, keywords are the words and phrases that people use when searching on Google or other search engines like Bing.
Your site content plays a huge role, from the topics you cover to the words and phrases used naturally throughout your content. Keep in mind, “naturally” is important here. Search engines will only deliver your site in results if the content was written for a human to read and is relevant.
There are three questions to ask yourself when deciding which keywords or keyphrases you’d like to target:
1. Who are your potential guests?
- Imagine what a digital nomad might be searching for.
- What are the needs and concerns of a digital nomad?
- What topics are digital nomads most interested in?
2. What is your unique value proposition?
- Think about what makes your listings stand out from competition.
- Do you offer discounts for longer term stays?
- Do you have a space suitable for remote work?
3. Look at what your competitors are doing
- Are there any co-work/co-living businesses in your area?
- Get a sense of what is working for them.
- Identify critical market gaps.
Choosing the right keywords
Choosing the right keywords to build out your content strategy is important. Try to avoid keywords with a lot of competition, but make sure the ones you select have enough monthly traffic.
You can use free tools like Google Keyword Planner and Ubersuggest or take advantage of a free trial with tools like SEMRush and Ahrefs to help with your initial keyword planning.
Where do keywords live?
The keywords or “keyphrases” you decide on targeting will live throughout your site. Here are some import places to consider including keywords for discovery by search results:
1. Homepage Title
- Ensure it is clear and concise
- Explains what your direct booking site offers
- Add at least one keyword to your Homepage Title
- Make sure it includes your brand name or site name
- Text length between 10 and 200 characters
2. Homepage Description
- Helps visitors learn more about your site before visiting
- Ensure that it is relevant and concise
- Add at least one keyword to your Homepage Description
- Make sure it includes your brand name or site name
- Text length between 50 and 500 characters
3. Homepage Content
- Ensure the content on your homepage is relevant
- Keeps people interested in your brand
- Add at least one keyword to your homepage content
- Make sure it includes your brand name or site name
- Length isn’t as important as relevancy
- Remember your homepage is not a blog post
4. FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)
- Add FAQs to your homepage
- Often gets picked up by search engines
- Think about what your guests most frequently ask
- Consider what guests by looking for when searching for accommodation
- Add at least one keyword in one of the answers
- Include your brand name or site in one of the answers
5. Blog Content
- Inject your keywords into specific blog content
- Try not to be repetitive and overuse them
- Continue to build content on topics associated with the keywords you selected
- Position your blog as a resource for digital nomads researching your city
Choosing the right keywords is only part of SEO, it takes time and quality content in order to establish your direct booking site as relevant and trustworthy.
How to Start a Blog that Converts Nomadic Guests
One powerful way to connect with the digital nomad community and establish yourself as a go-to stay in a particular location is by starting a blog focused on topics your prospective nomadic guests are searching for.
Consider the keywords you identified in the section above. What are the related topics you can build off of?
If for example, one of your keyphrases was, “Short-term rental apartments in Lisbon” then think about the other search queries a potential guest would be interested in learning about Lisbon.
You can use keyword research tools to identify keywords or keyphrases that are worth writing about or simply start by experimenting. Nomads are typically interested in exploring the best a city or location has to offer. Here are some ideas to get you started:
The 10 Best Bakeries and Cafes in [City]
The Best Parks to Watch the Sunset in [City]
The Best Restaurants for [Local Dish] in [City]
The Best [Fitness Activity] in [City]
Be sure to include a “Looking for accommodation?” section toward then of each blog post and linking to your listing(s).
If you live near a ski resort or beach then you may want to consider partnering with a local business and investing in a webcam to provide a live feed of the conditions. Digital nomads or prospective guests in general interested in skiing or surfing will want to check the wave or snow conditions and you’ll begin to get an incredible amount of traffic to your direct booking site. Even though not all visitors will convert, it's going to really help your search rankings.
Leveraging Social Media Localized Video Content
If you’re like most property managers, chances are you’re already busy with your business. Unless you have a team, it's unlikely you’ll have the time to run multiple social media accounts. Choose one that plays into your strengths and stick with it. For the most bang for your buck, consider starting a TikTok or Instagram account, play into the algorithms and focus on videos.
- Recycle blog topics into reels or TikToks and vice versa
- Capture video on your phone every time you’re out
- Take an hour each day to tour around and capture content
- Focus on “The Top…” or “The Best…” lists
- Position your account as a resource for anyone coming to visit your location
- Don’t forget to promote your stays along with other options in your area
Partnering with Co-Working Spaces
A coworking space is a shared office space where remote employees can rent a desk or workspace by the hour, day, week, or month. Coworking spaces typically offer a variety of amenities, such as high-speed internet, private desks and conference rooms. They also provide a sense of community and collaboration, which can be beneficial for digital nomads who are often working from different locations.
Partnering with co-working spaces can be a winning strategy to get your listings in front of digital nomads. Here’s an idea to get you started:
- Identify Potential Partners: Research co-working spaces near your listings that target digital nomads.
- Negotiate Terms: Negotiate an exclusive membership rate for your guests in exchange for discounted stays.
- Promote Partnership: Promote your exclusive rates by adding to OTA listings, your direct booking site and on social media.
For more ideas, consider these additional co-marketing initiatives for partnering with co-working spaces:
- Cross-promotion on social media: Share each other's content on social media and tag each other in posts. This will help to reach a wider audience of potential guests and members.
- Joint blog posts: Write a joint blog post about the benefits of working and living as a digital nomad in your city. This is a great way to share your knowledge and expertise with potential guests and members.
- Referral program: Offer a referral program where guests of the co-working space can earn a discount on their stay if they refer a friend who becomes a member of the co-working space.
- Partner on events: Host events and workshops together that will appeal to digital nomads. This could include things like networking events, workshops on productivity, or talks by inspiring entrepreneurs.
By partnering with a co-working space, you can reach a wider audience of digital nomads and attract more guests to your short-term rentals.
Digital Nomad WhatsApp and Facebook groups
WhatsApp and Facebook groups are extremely popular within the digital nomad community. For a nomad, getting added to a local WhatsApp group or discovering a vibrant Facebook group can often become a goldmine of information, helping accelerate the time it takes to learn about a location and meet new people.
Why Do Digital Nomads Use WhatsApp and Facebook Groups
When a digital nomad is traveling to a new destination, they will oftentimes ask fellow nomads if they can recommend groups for general information, accommodation, housing, events or meetups.
Facebook Groups are much easier to find than WhatsApp Groups because of Facebook’s search functionality. You can easily find Facebook groups by simply searching for the city and the term “nomad” on Facebook. WhatsApp Groups on the other hand are oftentimes more active, but aren’t as easily discoverable as they are usually shared by word-of-mouth.
For property managers, WhatsApp groups, specifically for accommodation, can be an effective way to generate bookings and fill availability, but unless you happen to meet someone who is already a member, they will be difficult to discover.
How to Create Your Own WhatsApp or Facebook Group
One way to get your listings in front of digital nomads is to create your own WhatsApp or Facebook group. Creating a WhatsApp or Facebook group isn’t just about self-promotion. Your goal is to create and nurture a community.
If you’re interested in creating your own WhatsApp or Facebook Group, think about the unique angle of your group. What value can you contribute?
You could create a general “Lisbon Nomad Group” or “Lisbon Accommodation Group”. If they don’t already exist then definitely get on it!
If they do exist, don’t worry there are plenty of options. For example, you could create a group that focuses on local news, events and meetups. This group would be aimed at helping integrate new nomads to your city, keeping them informed of everything happening ranging from subway closures to outdoor festivals, karaoke nights and more.
Using Digital Nomad WhatsApp and Facebook Groups to Market Your Listings
If you’re not interested in creating your own WhatsApp or Facebook Group, there’s still a lot of ways you can use existing groups to market to digital nomads. Here are some tips on how to be successful in these groups:
- Consistency - Showing up in a single group often is more impactful than trying to participate in a dozen.
- Add Value - Become a city expert, share knowledge and demonstrate your willingness to help others. You’ll begin to gain recognition and word will spread that you have properties available.
- Be Professional - Your interactions and direct booking site are an extension of your brand. Establish trust by engaging accordingly and let your listings do the rest.
- Respect the Rules - Read and respect the rules of a group you joined. Do not post your listings or self-promote if that goes against the group. Direct message a member if they are looking for accommodation and save your listing links for the housing groups.
Bonus: Gain Access to a Global Directory for Digital Nomad Facebook and WhatsApp Groups - For Free!
As a special bonus, you can gain exclusive access to the Dtravel Global Directory for Digital Nomad Facebook and WhatsApp Groups. This is not your average directory; it's a carefully curated collection of groups that you wouldn't be able to find anywhere else and certainly not on your own. We've scoured the digital landscape to bring you a selection of active and engaged communities where digital nomads converge, share experiences, and seek out their next dream destinations.
By leveraging this exclusive directory, you'll be tapping into a goldmine of potential guests who are actively searching for accommodations like yours. Imagine having direct access to a network of digital nomads from diverse backgrounds and interests, all eager to discover unique places to live and work remotely. With this bonus global directory in your arsenal, you can effortlessly connect with the right audience, showcase your properties, and establish your brand as a go-to choice for digital nomads on their globetrotting journeys.
Access now: Dtravel Global Digital Nomad Group Directory
The rising trend of digital nomadism presents an incredible opportunity for short-term rental operators and vacation rental property managers. With an estimated 35 million digital nomads worldwide and their preference for direct bookings, targeting this valuable guest segment can significantly boost your bookings and profits.
There are many ways to begin attracting this valuable guest segment. Even though you don’t need to do everything at once, there are some immediate opportunities you can take advantage of such as optimizing your existing rental listings and launching a direct booking site. Over time, consider adding personalized experiences, flexible booking options, and attractive discounts for extended stays so that you can stand out in a competitive market.
By implementing these strategies and staying attuned to the needs of digital nomads, property owners can transform their rentals into sought-after destinations for remote-working professionals, ultimately increasing bookings, profits and business success.