In life, the only constant is change. This year has seen disruptive changes and challenges for many, but none more so than the travel and tourism industry. Emerging business trends show evidence of the speed at which our industry is transforming and indicate that travelers are now searching for more personal, emotional, and immersive experiences as part of their vacation package. To successfully meet the evolving expectations of their guests, VRMs must embrace their local tours and attractions and be seen as more than simply providing a place to stay!
86 – 89%
An estimated 86% of travelers between the ages of 18 and 34 and 89% of international travelers participate in tours and activities while traveling.
Outdoor activities top the charts with 85% of families making it a priority on vacation. (Short Term Rentalz)
90% of travelers say they expect a personalized experience when they book their travel (Medium), and 67% of high-income travelers would rather spend their money on activities than a nicer hotel room. (Skift)
Hostfully found that tours and activities were the number one service vacation rental managers wanted to add.
It’s predicted that the tours and activities segment will grow to $183 billion. (Phocuswright)
A recent report by Arival shows that 62% of travelers consider private tours the most appealing as they look to travel again
Google searches for “staycation” have jumped 45% YoY (Google 2020), and 56% have taken a staycation recently. (YouGov)
A survey conducted by Zapwater shows that 83% of Americans preferred to travel within the US for their first trip post-COVID-19.
Post-pandemic “revenge spending” indicates travel will be among the first to recover. (Forbes)
A New Age of Travel
COVID-19 has redefined travel and shifted the landscape of the industry. Although many people have been affected on professional and personal levels, the good news is vacation rentals are now leading the recovery for travel and tourism.
Our new normal reveals a shift in both consumer behavior and needs because guest expectations have never been higher thanks to post-lockdown cravings for freedom and experience. The focus is no longer on accommodation alone but has shifted swiftly to a combination of a safe place to stay and a complete guest experience. With endless COVID-19 restrictions in place, guests are looking to plan their experiences online, book in advance, avoid lines, and reduce contact.
Vacations that are contactless by nature are on the rise. Travelers are choosing outdoor activities over indoor attractions while opting for workcations and staycations: local travel, drive-to destinations, and remote locations such as mountains, lakes, and beaches.
Tours, Activities, and Experiences
Tours and activities have, until recently, experienced consistent but slow growth when compared to many industry counterparts yet now stand proud as the third-largest and fastest-growing sector of global travel and tourism. According to Phocuswright, 80 percent of US travelers participated in a tour, activity, or ticketed attraction on their last vacation.
Although the success of tours and activities has generally been predicted by the market and location, in the midst of a global pandemic, there has been a shift in the types of tours and activities that are thriving and in how they are being booked.
Trips that offer a naturally isolated experience, such as fishing charters, dolphin cruises, kayaking, horseback riding, wilderness adventures, and wellness travel are leading the way.
Tours and activities are moving quickly to implement online booking with digital ticket redemption, enabling them to manage capacity limitations and social distancing by avoiding overcrowding and guests waiting in line. With attractions starting to open and road trips on the rise, are you, as a VRM, able to offer your guests not only a safe home but a memorable vacation experience?
Why Tours and Activities Should Be Important to All VRMs
Tours and activities are transforming the vacation rental industry as we know it, and value adds are playing a larger role in our industry than ever before. Property managers must use their knowledge of the market, guest behavior, and local travel trends to enhance the guest experience with customized offerings and personalized service.
Return on experience is the new ROI, and although offering your guests tours and activities as part of their stay will not drive substantial direct revenue, the ability to increase your ADR and occupied nights (through both new reservations and extended lengths of stay) represents one of the best opportunities to increase your bottom line.
Building Your Brand
Connect YOUR brand to your guest experiences. As many as 97 percent of millennials share their travel experiences on social media, with two-thirds posting at least once a day. These posts of “best-in-life” moments and experiences are made throughout their vacations, as opposed to pictures of their rental homes, which are typically posted on the day of arrival. Are you part of their daily experience? Offer your guests incentives to tag you and let social media do the rest.
A One-Stop Shop
Are you a one-stop shop for your guest? Ultimately guest experience remains at the heart of our industry, and customer loyalty lies in meeting all your guests’ needs. It’s time to take stock of your local treasures, tours, activities, and attractions to ensure your guest experience is complete. Take it one step further with a virtual concierge tailored specifically for each home and revolutionize your guests stay. “Alexa! Book me a sunset dolphin cruise, please.”
Repeat Guests and Referrals
Perhaps one of the biggest benefits of offering tours and activities to your guests is that it drives more bookings. Customer loyalty and positive experiences can drive your bookings and lead to repeat guests and referrals while simultaneously reducing your guest acquisition costs. Although a vacation rental home offers comfort, an experience promises memories.
A Safe Stay
With PPE becoming a necessity and new procedures for increased safety in place, offering your guests an experience with a preferred vendor gives guests peace of mind during the uncertainty of COVID-19.
One needs to look no further than Googles’ recent entry into both vacation rentals and tours and attractions to confirm this is a hot topic, and vacationers are looking for added value now more than ever when planning their vacations. Xplorie works together with VRMs to build the best guest experience programs in the vacation rental industry, with products ranging from a virtual concierge service to complimentary activities each day of a guest’s stay. In a recent guest feedback survey, 72 percent of travelers said attractions were a factor in their decision when booking accommodations. It’s time to join the guest experience movement!
Be more than a place to stay.
Guests are seeking a seamless and hassle-free vacation experience to enjoy the best that their destination has to offer with no extra effort. The era of offering accommodation only is coming to an end. It is time to move with the shifting tide, enhance your customer experience, build your brand, boost your bookings, and transform your accommodation by offering memories and moments that will last a lifetime.
After all, the experience is why we vacation.