Said Vrbo president Jeff Hurst, “In my 10 years in the vacation rental industry, I’ve never experienced a year quite like 2020. The COVID-19 pandemic had a profound impact on our family lives, social lives, home lives and, of course, travel plans.”
In addition to analyzing data from its own global vacation rental marketplace, Vrbo invited family travelers around the world to participate in a first-of-its-kind consumer survey to help uncover what to expect for family travel in 2021. Vrbo’s report is based on U.S. survey results from 8,000-plus people from eight countries, as well as Vrbo travel demand for the 12-month period ending August 31, 2020.
1. Travel slowed, but travel planning didn’t
Even though most families had to cancel a trip due to COVID-19 this year, Vrbo reports travel is still top of mind for 82% of families who already making plans for 2021.
2. Pandemic travel habits may be hard to break
Some pandemic-era travel habits show no signs of slowing down. Of families surveyed, 59% say they are more likely to drive instead of fly on their next trip, 61% are more likely to visit an “outdoorsy” destination rather than an urban one and 67% of travelers who took a Flexcation—booking trips in the off-season and staying longer to mix work and play—said they would do it again.
3. Just add water . . . interest in U.S. destinations near lakes and rivers rise
Rural vacation destinations near lakes and rivers saw an uptick in popularity, especially in areas across the south, Midwest and eastern regions of the U.S., where families can fish, camp and hike. An example is Emory, Texas, located about an hour’s drive from Dallas. Other small towns topping Vrbo’s emerging destination list are Smithville, Missouri; Slade, Kentucky; Mannford, Oklahoma and The Outer Banks in North Carolina.
4. Cue the cabin fever
Somewhat ironic that quarantined travelers with “cabin fever” are yearning for stays in cabins and chalets. Vrbo reports demand for cabins increased nearly 25%, while chalets were up almost 20% year-over-year. Perhaps these cozy accommodations are the “comfort food” of the accommodations. That said, with the increased interest in destinations near lakes and rivers, it does make sense.
5. Bring on the “Bucket List” trips
Canceled 2020 vacations has created pent up demand. Vrbo predicts that once travel returns to pre-COVID levels, travelers plan to go all out. Survey responders indicate that 65% plan on traveling more frequently than they did pre-COVID, and 54% say they are more likely to finally taking that “bucket list” trip, and 33% are willing to spend more than they usually would.
6. Everyone wants a vacation do-over and more family time
Travel FOMO (fear of missing out) was at an all-time high in 2020. Rather than scrapping a canceled trip completely, families want to make up for lost time. According to Vrbo, 54% want to redo their canceled vacation plans. Of those who had a trip canceled due to COVID-19, 44% are rescheduling, and 31% say the main reason they want to travel is to spend quality time with family.