Workations with kids

I started my coliving space for digital nomads in 2013. Most of the guests were in their 30' and single.

A few families contacted me, but I saw it as too niche to create a service for them.

The pandemic changed everything as those single nomads now have own families, and the market is much bigger.

But these families face the same challenges - there is not much infrastructure to travel and work remotely.

Let's have a look at this market:

  1. Why services for nomad families are almost non-existent?
  2. How do families I know do it?
  3. Research or existing solutions
  4. My take on the opportunities in this market

1. Why services for nomad families are almost non-existent?

There are many reasons, but here are what I consider the most important one:

  • 📊 Hospitality operators don't think it is an exciting market - well, the hospitality industry is relatively slow, and there is usually a "talk" for 5+ years before taking any action
  • 😓 It seems to be too much hassle - many additional amenities needed (toddler dining chair, co-sleeper, to name a few), demanding customers, etc.
  • 🛏️ The vast majority of vacation rentals are 1-bedroom apartments and studios (historically considered the best investment) that are not ideal for family stays
  • 💰 Didn't fit the VC narrative - there have been hundreds of millions poured into startups like Sonder intending to capture much generic market

2. How do families I know do it?

I have a dozen friends with small kids who are already doing this. They all struggle to find the suitable accommodation:

  • Browsing Airbnb a lot
  • Asking all similar friends for recommendation
  • Always open to any location where it is easy to get (fly) and has the proper infrastructure which is the opposite of nomads ("I want to go to Barcelona")

The main challenge is to facilitate the care of the kids:

  • One of the parents takes a vacation
  • Invite grandparents and other family members to take care of the kids
  • Structuring the work day the way that one of the parents can always take care of the kids
  • Only one parent works remotely

3. Research or existing solutions

a) Structured programs

  • There are packaged programs that include accommodation, schooling services, coworking, facilitation, community, and often logistics
  • They have higher price tags and target nomadic families who aspire to do it long-term but might be afraid to do it without help (at least to start)
  • Strong focus on the US customers
  • Homeschooling alternative
  • The best knows is Boundless Life (check out this pretty deep review), but there are plenty of others, such as Working Without Borders, Deliberate DetoursForever Wild, Quartier Collective

b) Family-friendly colivings

c) Family hotels and resorts

  • For a more than 2-week stay, this is probably not comfortable or affordable
  • Fanstastic programming for older kids
  • Resorts often accept only kinds after a certain age (3-4y)
  • Taylor Jones operates a portfolio of "Airbnb resorts for families" and I love to follow his updates on Twitter

d) Non-profit communities

e) On-demand childcare

  • Companies like Otter and Napp can make it easier to find childcare services while traveling
  • However, they don't solve the broader problem of accommodation

4. My take on the opportunities in this market

Why is it a good business opportunity?

  • Growing niche market
  • No competition - single nomads have 1000's of options to book accommodation, families don't
  • Clients happy to pay a premium (2 parents working remotely = good income)
  • They book in advance - much better for forecasting and revenue management

How would I do it?

  • Focus on larger (3-4 bedrooms) apartments and villas
  • Families that want to do it 1-2 months per year (no aspiration to become nomadic)
  • Premium amenities that are not so expensive but add a lot of value (e.g. Stokke chair)
  • Two workstations for parents with a display and office chair
  • Organize nannies that can be shared between families
  • Focus on families with small kids (no school) and families with older kids who don't need school (do homeschooling, can have a break from school for a few weeks, etc.)
  • Keep it as simple as possible (look on the examples above - very easy to make it super complex)

Is someone building this? I would love to invest and help (distribution, product, etc.).

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