Airbnb is looking for guinea pigs. Specifically, nomadic, remote-working guinea pigs. The “Live Anywhere on Airbnb” programme is seeking 12 individuals prepared to travel and live in accommodation listed on the site for 10 months, until July 2022, and in return help the online marketplace tailor its product for what it sees as an increasingly important market segment: the digital nomad. A diverse set of participants is sought, including creatives, empty-nesters and young families. “Whether it’s joining Zoom meetings by the beach, taking family on the ultimate road trip, or learning a new language in a favourite city – participants can make the world their home for a year,” promises Airbnb. Each selected participant may be accompanied by up to three companions. Accommodation expenses will be covered in the form of Airbnb credits (up to the value of US$48,000 per participant), as will transport costs, up to US$12,000. In return, the selected individuals, who are being sought in 30 or so countries or regions, including Hong Kong – those that have workable Covid-19 conditions – will provide Airbnb’s research, product and design team with feedback in the form of weekly video check-ins and audio or written diaries relaying their experiences. Those insights will help the company shape product upgrades and innovations to accommodate a growing interest in nomadic living lifestyles. According to the Airbnb Report on Travel & Living, published on May 1, the share of long-term stays – defined as being those of at least 28 nights – on the platform increased 10 per cent in terms of bookings in the first quarter of 2021 when compared with the same period in 2019. Although this year has been an extraordinary one, 74 per cent of those surveyed – in Australia, France, Mexico, United Kingdom and United States – expressed an interest in living somewhere other than where their employer is based once the coronavirus pandemic is over. 6 new hotels in Italy, from five-star luxury to affordable style Governments around the world are beginning to realise the potential this wandering workforce might have. Estonia has perhaps been the most welcoming so far, having introduced an official digital nomad visa in July 2020, while the previous month Barbados launched its “welcome stamp”, which allows remote workers to relocate to the Caribbean island for up to 12 months. Many digital nomads work informally across Asia, and the front runners to make this arrangement fully legal are assumed to be Indonesia and Thailand, where Bali and Chiang Mai, respectively, are remote-worker hotspots. Wannabe nomads interested in “living anywhere on Airbnb” have up until June 30 to apply. The programme will start in July, with two months of tutorials about how to live on Airbnb, given by the likes of The Senior Nomads – couple Debbie and Michael Campbell, who retired in 2013 and have since lived in more than 270 listings on Airbnb across 85 countries – and “live anywhere expert” Imani Bashir. Thereafter, the chosen 12 will be free to roam, Covid-19 restrictions permitting.