The rebound of the travel industry in the United States is underway with guests around the country booking out vacation rentals for the summer as the vaccine rollout surges ahead. The biggest trend to come out of this resurgence? The concept of “Revenge Travel” – the idea that guests are going to be making up for the trips they couldn’t take over the past year by spending more and traveling longer.
Based on the results of a new white paper we developed at HomeToGo, combining exclusive insights from surveyed guests, property managers, and internal data from both HomeToGo and AirDNA, we take a closer look at “Revenge Travel” and the trends and tips property managers should keep top of mind as travel makes a comeback.
Longer Stays and Spending are On the Rise
To start on a high: 85% of property managers are noticing more bookings compared to previous years – not just 2020. With the vaccine rollout gaining speed, more than half (54%) of guests recently surveyed said they will travel within one or two months after receiving the vaccine, working out well for property managers eager to take advantage of summer travel.
Plus, guests are booking longer trips and spending more: 46% of HomeToGo’s U.S. summer bookings currently last seven days or longer – an 8% increase from 2020 – and 54% of property managers reported that guests are spending more on average per booking. We see this surge clearly playing out in our data with both an 18% increase in group size and an average booking value that’s currently 70% higher than in 2020 and 65% more than in 2019. We do expect this number to change as more last-minute bookings come in.
Guests Want Flexibility and Cleanliness
With the uptick in summer bookouts, we also anticipate an influx of last-minute, short trips as the year progresses. 85% of property managers are noticing last-minute bookings, and in our own data, the average booking window is down 16% and 46% compared to 2019 and 2020 respectively. There is still uncertainty as travel regulations constantly change, and guests are frequently still searching with flexible dates and opting for spur-of-the-moment getaways.
To maximize bookings potential, one pro-tip for property managers is to establish flexible booking and cancellation policies to put guests at ease during these unpredictable times. 45% percent of U.S. travelers rank rentals that have “Free Cancellation” among their top two booking considerations, even before price, yet 54% of property managers surveyed are not offering free cancellation under any circumstances. We encourage property managers to consider flexible policies to secure risk-averse guests and make their property more appealing to cautious travelers.
Another clear trend after a pandemic year: Hygiene was also listed as the most important booking factor, with 55% of travelers surveyed ranking “Extended Clean and Disinfection” as the top consideration when booking a rental, prioritized over other amenities such as beach access, stable internet, and a pool, hot tub, or sauna. We know there’s been some frustration among property managers over so-called “hygiene theater,” but the numbers are clear––guests expect to see extra cleaning measures mentioned in a listing. We found that 85% of property managers now highlight extra cleaning measures in listings, and we recommend doing the same in order to offer guests the assurance that they’re looking for.
Remote Workers are Prioritizing Amenities
With so many now doing their jobs on Zoom and “work from anywhere” policies becoming more of the norm, remote workers are a big factor in the increase we’ve seen in terms of longer bookings. In our survey, 71% of guests responded that they will work remotely at least once in 2021 and 39% of property managers are noticing more remote workers than usual. That means you need to showcase the comfortable workspaces at your property and talk up that high-speed WiFi in the description. Also, remote workers don’t want to leave their furry companions behind, so property managers should clearly highlight their pet policies in place and any special features such as a fully fenced backyard or nearby dog park. Pools are also a hot-ticket amenity, which along with pets, accounted for more than 50% of our amenity searches in 2020 and that trend is continuing so far in 2021.
How to reach these new types of remote work travelers, who may be different than your typical guest persona? Diversify your distribution strategy. We found that 42% of property managers in our survey are listed on more than 5 booking channels and 37% say they’re noticing more bookings from different booking channels. To keep up with the competition, we recommend that you consider listing on more booking channels to attract more eyeballs to your properties.
Rural, Domestic Destinations are the Clear Winners
9 in 10 U.S. travelers are searching for domestic destinations this year, with the same amount seeking rural getaways overcrowded, urban hot spots. In addition, 63% of guests surveyed ranked a “quiet getaway” as most preferred for their next vacation. This is reflected in the amount of rural destinations hitting our most popular list for summer:
For property managers interested in the best markets for growth, here’s where AirDNA sees the largest year-over-year increase and decrease in search interest. College football fans might recognize a few destinations here. South Bend, Ann Arbor and State College are all university towns with teams in the Big 10, which got off to a late start in the last football season because of COVID-19 and likely impacted search interest:
Travel is coming back. That’s not up for debate. What’s left to be determined is how property managers will respond to and take advantage of this new normal. For full insights, download HomeToGo’s Revenge Travel White Paper.
About Rachel Tabellion, Head of Sales at HomeToGo
Rachel Tabellion is the Head of Sales at HomeToGo and has been leading partnerships with property managers worldwide for six years. Under her leadership, her team has successfully onboarded over 2,000 property managers onto the group’s 40+ international distribution websites, cementing HomeToGo’s place as the world’s fastest-growing booking channel. Rachel also regularly hosts and co-hosts educational webinars for property managers using HomeToGo’s data of more than 18 million listings together with leading industry players such as Streamline, Ciirus, Transparent, and AirDNA.
HomeToGo, the world’s largest vacation rental search engine, compares over 18 million offers from more than 40,000 trusted partners. From apartments, cabins, boats, castles, hotels, hostels, and everything in between, HomeToGo combines price, destination, dates and amenities to find the perfect accommodation for any trip worldwide.
Founded in 2014, HomeToGo employs more than 250 people. HomeToGo operates 43 websites, including brands such as Tripping.com and Wimdu, across Europe, North America, South America, Australia and Asia-Pacific. To learn more, visit www.hometogo.com or download the HomeToGo app.