The working demographic of digital nomads is now firmly established since its post-pandemic ascent. In the hospitality sector in particular, and increasingly since the advance of remote and hybrid working, it is also now firmly established as a guest segment and, crucially, one that presents a great deal of revenue potential for operators.

Indeed, at the start of this year it was predicted that the number of digital nomads worldwide will reach 35 million, nearly half of which are millennials. * All this presents a growing (and potentially lucrative) guest segment that looks set to increase further in the future and one that operators should pay close attention to.

The appeal of a digital nomad AKA laptop- lifestyle is well recognised. Flexibility, convenience and cost-savings on office space are key benefits for employees and their companies. For hospitality operators it’s also attractive. It has enabled hotels to transform underutilised lobbies, lounges, and other common areas into bustling hubs of productivity and leisure combined. This presents a growing capability to maximise daytime F&B revenue potential across a property, especially the lobby area which has seen a marked shift from solely being a check-in and check-out area to a more engaging meeting and catering space for remote worker guests.

In terms of guest habits, alongside the rise of the digital nomad has been the rise of the blurring between business and leisure, the ascent of ‘bleisure’ and ‘workcation’ guests. Frequently guests choosing a hotel for a business trip may well then extend their stay into a leisure break with friends and families.

The route to realising growth in revenue, guests and profitability across both trends is via mobile ordering which can place ordering and payments in the palm of both the guest and staff’s hand, making it more accessible, swifter, scalable and efficient. A step change which can deliver benefits for both parties.

For the digital nomad guest these include not having to leave a laptop unattended whilst ordering food and drinks, staying hydrated and nourished with a steady flow of drinks and snacks, and being able to work consistently without much interruption to order. All of which can increase order volumes and average guest spend.

Likewise there are a number of benefits for hoteliers to attracting the digital nomad guest:

  • Increased F&B spend 

Making a space available and accessible for remote workers and ensuring QR codes are readily available and visible on desks and communal areas for easy, regular ordering of coffees, smoothies, lunch and snacks can boost the volume of F&B orders and the average guest spend.

  • Boost daytime business 

Build more guests, footfall and sales during quieter hours post check-out and pre check-in to enhance day guest experience and build loyalty.

  • Broaden guest appeal locally and extend revenue streams outside of corporate guests and rooms

Attract day visitors from the local area who can then become regular guests and potentially leisure visitors. In addition to the lobby, patios, gardens and rooftop areas can all be transformed into appealing, work-friendly environments that offer mobile ordering to ensure guests can stay productive and refreshed without having to leave their digital desk.

  • Drive incremental sales and revenue 

For many corporates who choose to stay and work during the day you have a captive audience available to market alternative yet relevant services, for example a Healthy Lunch / Coffee and Gym / Spa day package to support employee wellbeing and work-life balance. This can be marketed to local businesses for visiting colleagues and clients to enable operators to diversify their F&B offerings across the property to maintain guest loyalty and spend.

  • Scaling up staff efficiency

The digital nomad guest, as the name would suggest, is tech-savvy, willing and able to self-serve. Thereby eliminating the need for you to resource the area with staff. By automating order processing and directing orders online, straight to the kitchen, you only need to serve the area where there is a direct requirement. Staff then have more time to focus on delivering orders and engaging with guests, rather than administration.

All exciting stuff but once the decision to extend the lobby and communal space service is made, how can hoteliers capitalize on this to unlock the full revenue potential of their hotel via mobile F&B ordering?

  • To market, to market

First and foremost, marketing is key. Market your hotel as an ideal Work from Hotel / Digital Nomad location and market the ‘Laptop lifestyle’ experience. Ensure your website outlines all of the details that make the space appealing for remote workers – free Wi-Fi, charging points, adequate seating and workspaces, location to transport links and importantly your F&B mobile ordering offer to encourage guests to order and crucially, repeat order, throughout their visit. Hotels hold real appeal for those looking for a change of scene and a space to work and meet colleagues, complete with the full scope of amenities, including mobile ordering which can ensure it is fully flexible and convenient.

  • Once on-site, enhance the guest experience

For those guests who either return to one hotel or who travel and may stay as a loyalty guest with one particular hotel group or brand in different locations, the familiarity and functionality of a mobile ordering app can enable them to re-order favourite items, filter allergies, manage payments and open tabs all from the palm of their hand. The seamless, consistent experience makes it easy for guests to place orders from their phones, tablets or laptops, once again enabling operators to boost F&B sales. Guests are more likely to order frequently when they don’t have to interrupt their work or meetings.

  • Train your staff

Hand-in-hand with online ordering, ensure staff are fully trained and equipped to deliver exceptional service, supported by mobile ordering. Train them on the app and menus so they understand its functionality and can answer guest queries. Also keep in mind that as much of the administrative aspect of ordering can be managed by the guest – making an order, repeat orders, settling the bill - staff will then have more time available to deliver orders, engage with guests and enhance operational efficiency.

  • Crunch the numbers

Reviewing and applying data from guest orders can put operators in a uniquely qualified position to apply a more personalised service and enhanced guest experience. Applying insight into guest preferences and requirements (allergies, the most popular dishes, preferred ordering times, for example) can again deliver an enhanced experience to support repeat orders and future bookings and work towards safeguarding future revenue.

  • Keep it fresh & appealing 

Taking the time to invest in enticing imagery can pay dividends in the long run, making it easy to edit and upload new content in line with any menu changes. Keep visuals updated in line with menu changes, whether seasonal or specials which will ensure you are appealing to guests who visit regularly and are keen to try new items.

The growing number of hotels now reporting that digital orders for their lobby/Eat in menu across F&B is on the increase highlights how profitable the digital nomad segment can be. 

Kate Fuller, Marketing Manager, IRIS