Flex living? Digital nomadism? The new buzzwords in the short-term rental industry

Whilst it’s been said countless times before, the short-term rental industry really has experienced a significant transformation over the past year and a half. Emerging from all this change have been trends and topics we keep discussing and revisiting, each with their own industry jargon.

Here we unpick the top buzzwords that the industry needs to take note of now and why they matter to every short-term rental business:

Digital nomadism

The term ‘digital nomad’ was coined over 20 years ago, but it wasn’t until the pandemic that it truly became mainstream. With employees forced to work from home in the effort to battle Covid-19, it didn’t take long for many to realise remote working wasn’t just a solution to a temporary problem – it was an opportunity in itself.

Digital nomadism goes beyond just working remotely part of the week or any of the other buzzwords like ‘workcation’ and ‘flexcation’ that have also been cropping up in the industry of late. It’s a long-term lifestyle of living abroad where your office is wherever you can set up a laptop. With many jobs still working remotely or going fully remote this year, it’s set to be a trend here to stay.

In the US alone, predictions are for the number of digital nomads to grow from 7.3m to 10.9m this year. Worldwide, there could be 1 billion digital nomads in a decade’s time. Countries like Barbados are now even offering ‘digital nomad visas’ to encourage this new breed of traveller to invest in their tourist industry.

Savvy property managers have already cashed in on this phenomenon by rethinking how they can market their properties to be attractive to this segment, such as offering discounts on longer-term stays and investing in a decent workspace and superfast WiFi. It’s no surprise that the short-term rental market has seen the average length of stay for a booking increase significantly in the last eighteen months, a sure sign that digital nomadism is spreading fast, and one every industry professional should take note of for the future.

Tech Stack

Technology provides automation and drives efficiency in short-term rental businesses. It can provide ingenious solutions to property management; like virtual concierge, contactless check-in and smart locks for example.

As we recently mentioned, McKinsey data has shown consumer and business digital adoption leaped forward five years in a matter of eight weeks in the early days of the pandemic. In the short-term rental industry, technology became the means of meeting sky-high guest expectations in 2020.

But with more and more tech start-ups crowding this space with sophisticated solutions, industry professionals needed to think more broadly about how each platform they used complemented each other – and whether it would ultimately help them increase their bottom line.

That’s why the phrase ‘tech stack’ has never been more visible within the industry. A tech stack is essentially a purpose-built software ecosystem that can help manage property operations. With the help of Open APIs, functionality and data-sharing between two software platforms can even be facilitated within a tech stack.

It’s no wonder then, that research from Breezeway shows that over half of professional managers are using four or more software solutions to run their business, with almost all planning on increasing or optimizing their tech stack this year.

Flex Living

Flex working, flexcation, flex living…the sudden emergence of these terms is indicative of an international blurring between the lines of work, travel and living. It’s something that Airbnb’s Brian Chesky has been talking about of late.

But the term ‘Flex Living’ has become crucial right now because it is distorting the lines between the short-term rental industry and its closest neighbours: corporate housing, multi-family housing and hotels. ‘Flex Living’ is used to describe spaces that can change according to the user’s need, whether a hotel stay, a serviced apartment or a long-term rental.

With such volatility in the travel industry combined with demand for short-term rentals outpacing that of hotels, it’s no wonder that property owners have sought to diversify their revenue streams and  tap into the lucrative short-term rental market by flexing their assets to cater for this. We’re seeing new business models emerge to facilitate this trend, moving away from a ‘master lease’ model and allowing more freedom to chop and change how a space is used.

The shift in the way people work has paved the way for the rise of ‘digital nomadism’ and driven the ‘Flex Living’ movement forward – both with significant consequences for the short-term rental market. Underpinning this at all times is technology, as the enabler of even greater and deeper change for industry professionals.

If you would like to know more about how working with our team at Abode Worldwide can help you establish expertise in the short-term rental industry – go ahead and contact us for an informal chat.

About Laura Bolton

Laura Bolton is a PR Specialist at Abode Worldwide. After honing her craft with household name consumer brands, Laura now helps develop the profile of clients operating in the short-term rental and corporate housing industries through Abode’s B2B technology communications expertise.

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