If you run a surf camp, surf house or any other type of surf-centric accommodation, then you’ll know that it can be difficult to see your beautiful space empty and unused in the off-season.
In previous years, shutting down shop and letting go of staff for the off-season was the way to go, but not anymore. With the rise in remote work thanks to increased flexibility from employers, closing your doors during the low period is a bad idea.
People are searching for a change of scenery during winter. And coastal retreats in comparatively warmer climates are particularly appealing because they offer a chance for new discoveries, new adventures and an opportunity to live the surf lifestyle.
So if you’re thinking about hibernating your surf camp, surf house or surf accommodation over the colder months, think again.
With a few small adjustments and some savvy messaging, you can continue to receive bookings in the off-season by transitioning into a work and surf space whether you’re in Costa Rica, Cape town or anywhere else around the world!
What exactly is the work and surf concept?
The concept of work and surf is relatively new. Essentially, it refers to coworking spaces that cater to surfers in one form or the other.
The idea behind it is that your remote workers can both work and enjoy the surfing lifestyle at the same time.
(In my experience, more surfing gets done than working, but that’s to be expected).
Work and surf offers are packaged and presented as either monthly bundles or pay-by-the-day. But this can be tailored to your individual business goals, availability or existing facilities.
One thing all work and surf providers have in common is that they’re more or less coworking spaces close to surf spots. This means they have comfortable chairs, desks, fast WiFi and free tea, coffee and snacks. The best of the best, however, offer discounted stays with accommodation, surfing lessons, equipment and meals, plus transport to and from the beach included.
No matter how you choose to approach work and surf, the main thing you need to understand is that you’re tailoring your service specifically to one crowd – surfers.
If you love surfing yourself, you know exactly what this crowd needs, so you’re in a great place to promote your coworking space.
The top work and surf spaces in the world
Like I said earlier… the work and surf concept isn’t especially new. But instead of wigging out about being caught behind the times, the fact that other brands and businesses have already proved it works is good news for you! Success leaves clues. And by checking out the following work and surf spaces, you can get a good idea of what’s involved when transforming your accommodation.
- Coworksurf – Worldwide
- Arctic Coworking Lodge – Lofoten, Norway
- SunDesk – Taghazout, Morocco
- The Stokeworks – Arrifana, Portugal
- Cowork Funchal – Madeira, Portugal
- Unleash Surf – Huanchaco, Peru
- The House – Gran Canaria, Spain (Canary Islands)
- The Surf House – Byron Bay, Australia
- Pipe Dream – Peniche, Portugal
- Kima Surf – Bali, Indonesia
The pros and cons of creating a work and surf space
Wondering whether to offer off-season work and surf packages? You need to weigh up the pros and cons first.
While there are definitely clear advantages to renting out your location or locations during otherwise quiet months, there are also a few drawbacks. Only by understanding both can you make an informed decision.
Increased revenue during the off-season
The main benefit of becoming a work and surf package provider is that you’ll get more bookings during the off-season. People are looking to escape their everyday routines and coworking in a surf environment is an attractive option for many.
You can play around by offering short or long-stay packages and figure out what works for your target audience. The best part though is that your off-season booking numbers will increase dramatically, which means more money that you can invest back into your business.
More exposure due to the increase in bookings
While holidaymakers and students are most likely your main peak-season clientele, off-season bookings will be from mobile young professionals.
Young professionals are tech-savvy and familiar with coworking, so they’re more likely to spread the word about your surf accommodation by talking to friends and colleagues or sharing on social media. This’ll result in more exposure and an increased number of repeat guests for your work and surf packages.
Extra feedback on your accommodation and services
Every guest provides you with an opportunity to learn more about how your brand is perceived. And with more like-minded people booking your work and surf package, you can better fine-tune your services and improve overall customer satisfaction by garnering feedback from each guest.
If you’re not sure what people think of your amenities or services, increase customer engagement and ask them for their opinion. You should also consider running promotions for discounts for future bookings in exchange for honest reviews.
Gain a reputation as being digital nomad friendly
Digital nomads are quick to spread the word about quality coworking spaces and work-friendly holiday destinations. If you establish your surf accommodation as a digital nomad-friendly spot, a good reputation and more bookings from similar remote workers are sure to follow.
Setup or upgrade costs
While some of you can probably transform your space into a work and surf destination simply by moving a few items of furniture around, the vast majority may need to make a few more substantial changes.
This could involve anything from upgrading the internet connection, introducing office furniture and other coworking essentials or providing catering for longer stays. Even increased heating costs need to be considered given the colder off-season temperatures.
Finding staff in the off-season is difficult
While finding volunteers or paid staff is easy when the weather is warm and the waves are friendly, it’s a different story in the off-season. This makes finding quality staff tricky… but not impossible.
Just keep in mind that you’ll need to search a little harder than usual and that your extra effort will be rewarded. Remember, in an industry where a lot of your accommodation options can be replicated, warm and helpful personal service makes a big difference.
The off-season is called the “off-season” for a reason
Cold weather. Endless rainy days. Stormy waves that most of us have no place riding. It’s called the off-season because a lot of people would rather stay at home and work from there rather than travel – especially given that it coincides with the holiday season.
Of course, you can use this to your advantage by offering attractive winter discounts and other incentives. You also need to be located somewhere that’s seen as an escape from winter. If that’s the case, you’ll be in a better position to attract work and surf guests.
10 things surfers look for in a work and surf space
If you’re thinking about transforming your surf camp, surf house or surf accommodation into a work and surf space, there are some key elements you’ll need to consider.
You don’t need to tick all of these off your list. In fact, most can and do get away with simply having a tasteful location near the beach that offers fast WiFi, good prices and decent accommodation. If you want to go the extra yard though, keep in mind that this is what surfers look for in the perfect work and surf space.
- Equipment and beach transport included
- Fast WiFi
- Option of private or shared accommodation
- Proximity to quality surf beaches
- Day passes
- Comfortable coworking space (private and group setting)
- Discounts for longer stays
- Verified reviews of your accommodation
- Meeting rooms
- Additional activities and networking events
- Secure lockers or keycard access
How to turn your surf accommodation into a work and surf space
Turning your surf camp into a coworking space can be a daunting task, but in the long run, it might be the best decision you make for your business.
Besides the logistics of creating a coworking space designed specifically for surfers, the biggest challenge you’ll encounter is both knowing what to say to attract the right people and knowing where to say it. This is where a professional comes in. If you’re curious as to what’s involved content-wise when turning your surf accommodation into an off-season work and surf destination, I’m happy to chat.
I can help refine your messaging, create copy that resonates with your target audience and show you where to distribute it for the maximum impact.