COVID 19 -Effects On Travel & The Road To Vacation Rental Recovery
It was like a wave when it hit, toppling down businesses, halting cruise travel, virtually taking out tourism overnight. People canceled booked trips by record-breaking numbers. They rightfully listened to the experts who said stay home. The best of the industry turned their hotels and rentals into long-term facilities for essential workers and homeless communities. While for months, large jets squatted on abandoned tarmacs hoping to one day be used again.
That’s the thing about travel. It comes with hope and the pleasure of knowing that you have your next vacation planned runs deep. Yearning for travel is like the middle child, the one who won’t stay home even when grounded. Although we did stay home. So now that we’re slowly turning a corner opening borders and gaining flexibility with more vaccine distributions, what’s next?
According to the VRBO US 2020 Travel Report, 82% of 8,000 people surveyed have already planned travel for 2021 and 65% said they plan to increase traveling frequency from what it was pre-COVID.
Findings: Travel Is Indeed Good For Mental Health
Not surprisingly another 22% said that going on vacation would improve their mental health and self-care.
Experts agree that vacationing and planning your vacation help to improve mental health during high-stress periods (like the current one). Just the means of anticipation of travel has been found to be a mood-booster while the actual planning & booking can rank higher as a stress-reliever than the trip transit itself.
So What In Travel Has Actually Changed Since 2019?
In 2020 global hotel occupancy in March fell to an average of 17% capacity vs. 77% in 2019. The vacation rental home industry bottomed out at 34%, during the same period, in comparison to 56% occupancy during the same time in 2019. Urban areas were hit the hardest while rural, mountain and beach vacations experienced growth. In fact, a new report from AirDNA April 2021 marks the first-month vacation rental bookings for May, June, and July 2021 have more demand booked through the first week of April 2021 than for the same months in 2019 as of early April 2019.
*It’s important to note that the vacation rental sector continues to be projected to grow at a higher rate than hotels, hotel occupancy significantly outperformed rental homes in 2019 (a lot had to do with business travel).
Why Are More Travelers Turning To Booking Vacation Rental Homes?
There are obvious pandemic-related reasons such as touch-less entry, more personal and family space but another big swing is that people are seeking out destinations that allow them to explore outdoors. In the past year, searches for cabins, luxury homes and chalets skyrocketed compared to previous years. Snow skiing and beach destinations have become increasingly popular as well.
Since working from home allows more freedom, the VRBO vacation survey also found that 48% of respondents say they can now work from anywhere and 37% have already considered booking a home rental just for a change of scenery.
What Does The Vacation Rental Industry Need To Do To Accommodate Demand & Succeed In New Guest Expectations?
While occupancy levels are up, there is still a lot of competition in rural markets. So how do you cut away from the noise and stay in tune with changing travel trends?
Some of the Expected 2021 Vacation Rental Home Travel Trends Include:
- Driveable and flexible vacations
- Communication about cleaning procedures and COVID safety will continue to influence bookings
- Whole family spaces including pet-friendly accommodations will be on the rise
- Guest touchpoints that used to be face to face will increasingly move to tech platforms
- Guests will actively involve themselves in supporting the local community
Guests’ Expectations Have Also Changed
They are seeking amenities that make them feel at home and can accommodate longer stays.
Concierge and hotel-like services will be more in demand as competition to provide these grows. Guests will be seeking more meaning in their vacations with family and loved ones.
How Property Managers & Owners Can Get A Head Of It All
- Reevaluate your cancellation policy
- Pivot to a closer geographical region you are marketing to
- Focus on outdoor, safe recreation nearby
- Provide home-like amenities like stocked kitchens, work/school spaces and high-speed WiFi
- Integrate touchless technology for check-ins and communicating with guests
Easily Embed This Travel Infographic.
Continue Being Infront of Guests – Don’t Use This As a Time to Fade Out
It’s been a long haul for all of us but according to Skift, the worse thing Property Managers and Travel Companies can do is to go into hiding. Instead, focus on campaigns that make guests feel comfortable and reassured that you will be there when they are ready to travel again. Las Vegas, for example, has implemented the #OnlyYou campaign. Property Management company Natural Retreats focuses on the environment and amenities with their #OpenTheDoorToMore campaign while TurnKey addresses changing guest expectations right on their homepage.