COVID-19: Vacation Rental Insights and a Conversation with TurnKey’s CEO [Webinar]

Vacation rentals are improving strategies to protect the safety of guests.

May 28, 2020

With our access to real-time traveler audiences and unmatched visibility into global travel demand, we are in a unique position to share current travel trends at the forefront of marketers’ minds. In this series we take a look at the data in order to aid travel marketers in their assessment of this worldwide event. Marketers can use these trends to inform their strategies during this period and be prepared for the recovery once the situation stabilizes.

Vacation rentals, or short-term rentals, across the globe are implementing new strategies to protect the health and safety of guests during the COVID-19 crisis. Some are equipping homes with smart locks or lockboxes to minimize person-to-person contact, opting into new cleaning protocols with a 24-hour buffer in between stays, and keeping shared amenities temporarily closed. TurnKey is developing a training and certification program on new cleaning procedures that all housekeeping vendors will be required to complete.

While these policies are being created in light of COVID-19, many vacation rental spots have an advantage in terms of precautionary operations as a lot of these properties are for single family use versus hotels with shared amenities and lobbies.

Though some vacation rental companies, including TurnKey and Meyer Vacation Rentals, saw a big spike in bookings over the past month indicating the beginning of recovery, some Airbnb hosts are planning to sell their properties. This showcases the deep losses some hosts are facing. In some cases, they are losing thousands of dollars a month in canceled bookings while bills and maintenance costs pile up. However, many short-term rental hosts are keeping their listings live despite the large number of spring cancellations, as bookings for the summer and fall are still coming in.

Lead Times Shortening in the US as States Open Up

Vacation rentals across the US, especially in Florida, rushed to get up and running in time for Memorial Day weekend. Many counties in Florida are discouraging renting to travelers from hot spot regions identified by the governor, namely New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Louisiana, as well as international visitors. Some counties go further, banning guests from states with 700 cases per 100,000 residents.

Almost all US states are opening up by state or regions within the state, though some have more restrictions than others and are taking more precautions by opening in phases. The states that are slower to open are likely keeping an eye on the new case spikes in some of the states that opened early. States like California and New York, which saw a high number of cases, are opening on a regional basis. Most of the states with lockdowns extending into early June are located in the Northeast region of the US.

When we look at the US vacation rental trends, lead times between booking and departures are shortening in the US. This could mean good news for vacation rentals–it may not take long for summer calendars to fill up as states continue to open. However, because of the great nuances between how states are reopening, some areas may be better positioned for recovery than others.

Our data goes back to April 5, 2020, the lowest point the globe saw for travel searches and bookings.

We also looked at vacation rentals and trip duration.

Key takeaways from the graph below:

  • With vacation search trends, the week of April 5th appears to be the bottom in terms of demand, and we see a slow growth across all regions.
  • Europe and North America regions are showing week-over-week growth for travelers seeking longer-term accommodations. We define long-term vacations as more than 15 days. These long-term stays could be a result of people self-quarantining or choosing to work remote in a new location.
  • The search behavior is flatter for shorter stays, but showing some increases in Europe and North America.
  • Asia is showing relatively flat or negative week-over-week volume change across all trip lengths.

Managing Through a Crisis: The Future of Vacation Rentals

Lockdowns and travel bans have hit the vacation rental market hard. Unlike hotels, the fragmented nature of the vacation rental market means owner responses are varied. For our webinar, we share our latest travel trends, and TurnKey Co-Founder & CEO, John Banczak, joins Sojern to discuss how the vacation rental space has responded to the COVID-19 pandemic and what that means for its future. We’ll end with a live Q&A to answer your questions.

View more real-time insights on Sojern's Travel Insights dashboard.

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