Key Highlights

  • Antsy city dwelling COVID refuges looking to escape to nearby vacation rentals
  • Most vacation-rental sites seeing big upticks in domestic rental reservations

COVID refuges are climbing their walls to escape from their houses and apartments. According to Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky, “People, after having been stuck in their homes for a few months, do want to get out of their houses; that’s really, really clear. But they don’t necessarily want to get on an airplane and are not yet comfortable leaving their (home) countries.”

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Airbnb is not the only vacation rental site seeing more nights booked for US listings between May 17 and June 3. Expedia, VRBO and Bookings Holdings are also experiencing a big uptick in domestic vacation-rental reservations. Even demand for domestic bookings from Germany, Portugal, South Korea and New Zealand has increased over last year’s demand.

Overall inquiries for domestic bookings are currently down by approximately -10%. That -10% is MUCH better than demand for domestic hotel rooms, which are down more than -60%.

Clearly, international vacation planning is being replaced with spur-of-the-moment road trips booked a day before and weekend trips are becoming weeklong breathers. “Work from home is becoming working from any home,” said Chesky. Travel is shifting from “…airplane to car, big city to small location, hotel to home.”

Where is everyone going? The top destinations via Airbnb are traditional markets such as the Catskills on the east coast, Big Bear Lake in southern CA, the Smoky Mountains along the North Carolina-Tennessee border and Port Aransas in Texas.

This uptick in bookings could not be more welcome to vacation rental sites but remember, this rebound in demand is coming from a low user base as travel was gutted by the pandemic. Air travel passenger traffic skydived -95%, Airbnb and Tripadvisor cut a quarter of their work forces and 2020 revenue is hoping to come in at -50% of 2019’s level. Booking CEO Glenn Fogel predicted that the COVID pandemic would impact global travel more than the 9/11 attacks, the SARS epidemic and the 2008 financial crisis combined.

Real estate professionals and investors focused on rental properties may be surprised with the speed of this recent vacation rental demand jump. With this spike, the question becomes, will this uptick in vacation rental bookings become a sustainable trend over the next one to five years?

 

Thanks to BloombergNews.

 

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