The vacation rental market in the USA is looking far more positive, according to a new report. It shows that, despite a difficult 18 months, Florida continues to lead the rest of the country in terms of this year’s bookings.
A new report into the state of the vacation rental market in the USA has revealed some surprising changes to patterns of booking. It says “the off-season is looking a bit different this year”.
Let’s have a look at what it found.
Florida remains top destination
While the whole of the travel and tourism sector has taken a huge hit during the COVID-19 pandemic, the survey shows that there are some really positive advantages to owning a vacation rental property in Florida.
Compared against the national average, vacation homes in Florida typically have:
- Higher occupancy rates
- The longest booking window (on average 44.7 days)
- Longer lengths of stay
In fact, Florida’s performance has helped to boost vacation rental performance in neighbouring states like Georgia and South Carolina.
The longer the booking window, the longer the stay
The report authors found that last-minute bookings tend to have a shorter duration that bookings made far in advance; they have a 25 percent shorter duration on average.
- Travellers who book zero to six days in advance will stay, on average, for 3.2 days.
- Travellers who book 15 to 60 days in advance will stay, on average, for 3.5 days.
- Travellers who book more than 91 days in advance will stay, on average, for 4 days.
COVID-19 has obviously impacted everyone’s ability to plan in advance. However, there is a clear link between advance booking and duration of stay, so this is one area where we will be focusing our marketing planning over the next few weeks and through 2022.
Weekend Warriors still dominate
As in most years, the majority of bookings have come from short stays. Over the year, short stays of between one and three days account for 70 percent of bookings.
However, the data also shows that there has been a small increase in the number of mid-length bookings, especially in July and September. In July 2021, stays of between four and seven days rose to account for 30 percent of bookings. While this dropped off during August, the proportion of mid-length stays picked up again, so it is a trend we’ll need to keep an eye on. If it persists, this is good news for vacation home owners.
The report does point to some changes in the short-stay market. Although short stays continue to dominate, they are reporting a greater number of mid-week short stays.
We think this is positive news. If the trend to mid-week bookings continues, it will help us to maximise occupancy rates during the off season when short stays dominate.
One of the significant changes, according to the data in the report, is the shift in focus from urban to rural bookings. It has found that rural bookings typically had a 12 percent longer booking duration than urban stays. The authors say that this is because the success of rural bookings is less dependent on COVID-19 restrictions.
While we can’t claim to have rural properties, our homes do have a fantastic opportunity here. With private pools, plenty of space and year-round sunshine, your guests can enjoy a vacation whatever the COVID rules outside.
While changes to Florida’s COVID-19 rules will affect restaurants and theme park admissions, we think that by focusing on the other benefits our homes deliver we can capitalise on the “safe space” trend.
Actions for the future
Although the report was published before the discovery of the Omicron variant, of which we’re yet to understand the effect, there are some actionable insights here. For example, it found that Florida is averaging a 44.7 day booking window, which gives us important guidance about the optimum time to begin marketing stays and short breaks.
Things remain positive for the moment. We’ve recently been very busy taking bookings for Thanksgiving, the Christmas holiday period and New Year.
Although we started from behind where we would normally be for these busy periods, bookings have been very healthy. We’re already seeing high occupancy rates for the holiday and New Year weeks.
We will, of course, continue to work with you to run proactive marketing campaigns and promotions to try to continue these positive booking numbers into the traditionally quieter winter sun season.
Get in touch
If you would like to talk through any of these ideas, please reach out to our team.