In the last year since the outbreak of the Coronavirus pandemic, the hospitality industry has been on a downward spiral. According to the American Hotel and Lodging Association, the outcomes of the disease have set the industry back about 10 years. In 2020, hotel revenues dropped by 50% and although experts predict that 2021 will bring better tidings, it is not expected that the impacts of the pandemic will soon be mitigated. To put this into perspective, well-known hospitality giant Airbnb, reported a loss of $3.9 billion in the last three months of 2020.
For this reason, the industry (just like many others hard-hit by the pandemic) has had to adapt –and fast– to the new reality brought about by the pandemic. To quote Airbnb’s CEO, “Travelling as we know it is over… and it’s never coming back”. This abrupt change in the travel scene forced most businesses to think outside the box to salvage their bottom line. Airbnb introduced “Experiences” aimed to help those who can’t travel enjoy tourist-y activities from the comfort of their homes. More traditional hoteliers on the other hand, banked on digital nomads.
Even before the outbreak of the pandemic, work and leisure travels, or “workations”, were on the up and up. And now that even big companies like Microsoft, Twitter and Facebook have promised to make remote work permanent, it is expected that the number of people going to holiday destinations for work is bound to increase.
The hospitality industry’s response to this remote work boom has been to offer these digital nomads hotel subscriptions that allow them to hop between properties owned by the same company as they enjoy their leisure and work activities. This model is the same kind used by on-demand service providers like Netflix and Spotify to much success. The idea behind these subscriptions is that the digital nomad sets roots in a place for only short periods of time, so it’s better to extend to them accommodation offerings that last more than several nights but not long term, at reduced price points.
Freelancing, Digital Nomadism and The Remote Work Visa
If you’ve been freelancing for a while, then the concept of remote work is nothing new to you. However, with the coming of the pandemic, and the long hours you may have been forced to stay indoors to quarantine yourself or as a result of a lockdown in your locale, your work-life balance may be a bit distorted. Living and working in the same space for too long can take a toll on your mental health as well as your productivity, which is why you need a change of scenery. You can book a stay at one of the hotels in your locale to break the monotony of being cooped up in your house all day long.
Or, if you’re feeling adventurous, you can look outside your borders to enjoy a premium workation at subsidized costs. Now that tourism is on a downswing, many places around the world, like Dubai in the UAE, have introduced special remote work visa packages for digital nomads who want to work, vacation and live there for extended periods of time as they ride out the pandemic. So long as you can show that you’re earning a steady income working remotely, then you can get these visas without too much hassle. With the benefits they offer, you can find your way in a new country much easier since the visa is better than a regular tourist visa and lasts way longer. And since tourists are fewer, you can enjoy a more peaceful, relaxed and Covid-free stay.
Hotels, always on the look-out for new means to stay afloat, have piggy-backed on these remote work visas to give digital nomads affordable accommodation as they live and work in foreign countries. So, if you’ve had travelling on your bucket list, you can take advantage of these remote work visas plus subscription accommodations to make your work vacation a reality.
Workations in MENA
The shocks of the pandemic on the hospitality industry were felt in the region just as much as in other areas around the globe. This is why a number of chain hotels are looking to cater to the increasing number of digital nomads.
According to Ms. Danielle Curtis, Exhibition Director ME, Arabian Travel, “The Hotel Industry in the Middle East has gradually started to recover, especially in places such as Dubai. Staycations created the initial demand after the lockdown, the next step has been the continued growth of workations, also known as bleisure stays, which tend to bring in more visitors from overseas.”
In addition to this, more hotels in the region are providing pop-up co-working stations aimed at making the digital nomad as comfortable and productive as possible during their stay. This way, according to head of Emaar Hospitality, Mark Kirby, “Those not working from their offices can enjoy a luxury hospitality experience whilst continuing with their work commitments.”
So if you’re planning to holiday and work in MENA you can be sure you’ll find accommodations to your liking. Here are a few options:
Jumeirah Emirates Towers
The Dubai property, owned by Jumeirah Group offers a package for digital nomads called “Discover Remote Work Package” that allows remote workers from around the globe to stay for a few days or weeks for a fixed monthly rate with access to free meals, the beach, and laundry services.
Partnering with Dubai’s Department of Tourism and Commerce Rove Hotels have introduced their Live + Work Package enabling digital nomads to live in any of the 7 Rove Properties in Dubai. Starting from AED 3,499 residents will also enjoy free housekeeping, co-working spaces, 24-hour gym access, among other discounted offers.
Operating in over 10 locations across the Middle East, Hyatt Hotels is one of the big chain hotels that have introduced packages for remote workers. Their offering, dubbed “The Great Relocate” will see guests book accommodation for no less than 29 days and enjoy spacious rooms, bi-weekly housekeeping, private work areas, IT support and subsidized dining.
The flexibility that comes with freelancing and remote working means that you can function from wherever you choose to. If travelling and a change of scenery have been on your mind, you can take advantage of the improved accommodation offers and remote work visas to make your freelance experience more exciting.