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Working where others go on holiday

Digital nomads are setting a new trend - the travel industry recognises big market opportunities - positive reactions to a paper at the ITB Berlin Convention

How about taking time off from the usual routine and travelling and working where you like? Digital nomads live the life that others only dream of. A fast internet connection, no roaming costs inside the EU and employers taking an increasingly flexible attitude have resulted In working and travelling becoming more and more popular. The tourism Industry has recognised this too. Christoph Santner and Christine Papadopoulos, for example, who set up Nomadical.org, are convinced that changing one's lifestyle really isn't that hard, despite one's work obligations. At this year's ITB Berlin Convention they explored the market prospects of this global trend.

“The reactions to our paper at the ITB Berlin Convention confirmed our view that digital nomads are creating plenty of fascinating and lucrative opportunities for the international travel industry", says Christoph Santner. Until now the market has focused on big cities such as Barcelona, Bangkok and Belgrade. However, more remote destinations are now catching up and establishing the necessary infrastructure with reliable internet connections and accommodation for digital nomads.

Many other companies have also recognised the trend that digital nomads represent. For example, those who value their freedom above everything else can take a nomad cruise, working on board a ship with like-minded travellers. Hotel chains such as moxyhotels and truby Hilton combine living and working in a relaxed atmosphere. Beunsettled is a startup that has made a name for itself. This team organises 30-day trips that bring like-minded nomads together at different destinations for a month to let them exchange experiences. Nomadlist is an important tool for anyone who wants to combine holidaying and working. This website rates cities around the world according to a number of different criteria, including internet quality, the average cost of living, and safety.

A startup by the name of Roam organises suitable temporary living and working quarters. This company provides (normally temporary) shared accommodation where digital nomads can live and work in a house, including in such exotic places as Ubud on the tropical island of Bali. Established companies have also joined the market to exploit the trend. Thus, airbnb hosts able to provide a suitable internet connection are allowed to advertise themselves accordingly.

Cities and regions are increasingly adapting their products to satisfy the demand for a flexible working environment. Lisbon is an attractive destination for digital nomads due to its low cost of living. A few years ago the Portuguese capital turned a former industrial site into the so-called LX Factory, a creative centre featuring art and restaurants. In addition to period-style shops, restaurants and cafés the site is also home to numerous startups and a communal workspace where people can remain for short or long periods. Athens and Barcelona have also developed similar concepts.

The fact that travelling and working is growing in popularity is due in no small part to more and more open-minded employers. In Germany it is well-known that there are many sectors suffering from a shortage of qualified employees. Offering a more liberal working environment is a way for companies to gain bonus points with applicants and their current employees.

The paper on this topic which Christoph Santner and Christine Papadopoulos of Nomadical.org held at this year's ITB Berlin Convention can be downloaded http://bit.ly/2tjtPQ3

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