When unique vacation home rentals from all over the world were added to sites such as Expedia and Booking.com, vacation properties became a recognized accommodations alternative, stealing market share from hotels. As demand for these homes increased, all indicators pointed to smooth sailing for the vacation rental industry. But then the COVID Reset happened, and the sector had to launch itself into the future at breakneck speed.
Prior to the pandemic, everyone had their vacations planned for the summer. Families had already worked around school calendars, youth sporting events and summer camps to fit their vacation in their schedules. They also had arranged their annual family reunions, company gatherings, destination weddings, and engagement parties on the calendar.
New Year’s Eve 2019 symbolized the start of a new and better year. The new year would keep those annual traditions going; it would be a time to bring in more marketing power and grow businesses. Already year-over-year bookings were up, and 2020 held so much promise!
Do you recall all these predictable events that everyone was looking forward to? They were part of our normal everyday life, and then it hit. It was something we have seen in many thriller movies—an outbreak of a virus with no vaccine that affects the whole world and changes the norm. But it wasn’t a movie. Hello to COVID-19.
I remember the days in March 2020 when news of COVID-19 started to spread. I remember our concern for faraway nations affected as the virus spread across the world. I remember the spotlights on grocery store workers who were stocking shelves with what some believed to be the last stock for a while. The fear and anxiety seemed to level off as the months went by, but in the vacation rental industry, travel bans and talks of new hot spots continued to hit the industry hard. Though travel might not be essential for sustaining life, we all know that traveling and gathering with friends and family make up a big part of our happiest times and memories. Suddenly, however, we were stuck at home. Houses became schools and offices and, to some, a prison all at once.
As we approach the end of 2020, we have adopted a new normal never previously imagined. The vacation and hospitality industries have had to get creative to join the COVID Reset movement.
This reset has resulted in an explosion of innovation. The vacation rental industry has once again proven that nothing can disrupt travel and vacation rentals for long. The vacation rental teams are always able to find their way around a problem. They worked together despite furloughs and job cuts, and companies worked diligently to keep as many employees as possible even though they were in uncharted territory.
This COVID Reset is what makes vacation rentals not just an industry but a family that spans the world. Lots of industries suffered changes in volume, but the vacation rental industry pooled their knowledge and teams to save the industry as a whole. They maintained a firm belief that the vacation rental world would be back in action for another season.
The industry revamped customer service protocols to provide contactless check-ins, implemented CDC cleaning standards, and created a new virtual workforce.
How does this all look in October 2020? Well, even with all the COVID-19 rules in place, beaches and coastal destinations saw large numbers of visitors making the best of the new normal. Vacation rental companies set up ways for guests to arrive and depart without having to make contact with anyone, and they did so without sacrificing hospitality and service.
For cleaning, standards were overhauled, and cleaning teams were taught safety measures that would keep the cleaning teams and guests as safe as possible. The CDC provided guidelines on what to do, and everyone in the vacation rental cleaning world embraced the new rules. Though cleaning costs have increased, the vacation rental industry has been able to offset the expense by sending staff to work from virtual offices at home.
Where will the COVID Reset take us? Into the future.
The vacation rental industry is resilient and remarkably capable of adapting to changing conditions. The industry’s technology is constantly being revamped and upgraded to maintain top-notch abilities and meet the standard of excellence.
When vacation rentals started to become popular, nobody could have expected that they would move to the forefront of travel, but the COVID Reset has shown that there is virtually no part of the economy that cannot quarantine, work, or study in a vacation rental. Many are choosing vacation rentals for a change of scenery from their homes and prefer this to staying at resorts or hotels.