Just a few months ago we were talking about how the behavior of travelers had changed after the “first wave” of COVID-19. As the new year approaches, vacation rental owners must prepare themselves for a series of new trends that will continue to transform tourism in 2021.
The coronavirus outbreak has inevitably changed people’s lifestyles and the way we travel. Local tourism will continue to increase in popularity while international destinations remain on hold. Even when restrictions are lifted, travelers prefer to remain cautious until it is completely safe to visit other countries.
While some changes are just temporary, others might affect the hospitality industry for several years to come. However, it’s not all bad!
The rise of remote workers and online education has led to a new guest type for vacation rental owners to target. Because of this year-round availability to travel, seasonality could very well change or disappear.
Based on a survey conducted for Airbnb to analyze the search and booking data of U.S. travelers and a study of more than 20,000 travelers in 28 countries by Booking.com, we will analyze tourism trends for 2021 and what changes you can make to your vacation rental to keep up with them. Knowing and preparing ahead of time can help your business succeed despite the current situation.
Working remotely has become a huge part of our lives, allowing us to work from home or anywhere else in the world. For some, it might be a struggle to get things done outside of an office environment, but for others, it’s a wonderful opportunity to visit new cities and experience a change of scenery.
In Airbnb’s survey, 83% of participants responded that they would like to relocate now that they are able to work remotely and 60% of parents are likely to travel if their kids continue to study online.
By allowing people to combine work and leisure, guests are opting for more long-term trips (around 2+ weeks). According to Booking.com, 37% of travelers have already considered working from a different destination and 52% would like to extend business trips to be able to enjoy the area.
That said, it’s extremely important to know how to adapt your vacation rental to ‘workationers’. To target this audience, consider setting up a new desk with a comfortable office chair or investing in fiber optic internet. When marketing your vacation rental, be sure to mention and highlight these amenities so that you can attract this new guest type.
Mark Simpson, Founder of Boostly, says that “hosts need to make sure they offer workplace solutions (paper, printers, scanners, a work desk, USB charging ports) and also shout out online if they have super quick WIFI. Add it to your description on Airbnb, on your website, or on your social media channels.”
With the rise of remote working and restrictions on international travel, we have also seen an increase in ‘staycationers’, a term used to describe those that travel domestically.
Airbnb’s survey shows that 62% of their participants are interested in taking a vacation within driving distance of their home. That said, people will be drawn towards national parks and beach or ski towns nearby.
According to Booking.com, 47% of people plan to travel in their own country in the next 7-12 months. 43% of travelers intend on exploring a new destination in their country, 46% want to appreciate the nature of their home country, and 50% are planning on traveling somewhere they’re already familiar with.
Travelers are also leaning towards areas away from big cities. In fact, according to Airbnb, these are some of the trending destinations for U.S. travelers:
Park City, Utah
Steamboat Springs, Colorado
Durham, North Carolina
Santa Fe, New Mexico
Greenville, South Carolina
Fort Walton Beach, Florida
When travelers are looking for destinations for their domestic trips, what stands out are experiences that are unique, original, and somewhat isolated. There has been a spike in interest for properties like dome houses, treehouses, yurts, farmhouses, Cycladic houses, country houses, cabins, and glamping houses. As long as your offer is intriguing, people will be willing to pay for it.
Daniel Rusteen, marketing expert and author of the best-selling book “Optimize Your Airbnb”, has shared his 2021 vacation rental tip with us: “With the worldwide pandemic this year, a host with a proper business mindset would predict the future trend will be for local and longer-term travel. How does this translate into an opportunity? Maybe you purchase some additional kitchen amenities or highlight your desk space with a comfortable chair. I’m advising all hosts to plan for longer-term travel throughout 2021 as many large companies, with many small companies following the trend, are telling their employees to work from home for the next year.”
Reconnecting with Family and Friends
After a difficult year of lockdown and self-isolation, what travelers want most is to escape and connect with their loved ones.
Airbnb’s survey indicates that 85% of participants favored relocating in order to be closer to family. The increase in what Airbnb calls “pod travel” just goes to show that people are trying to make up for the lost time spent quarantining in 2020.
While many are eager to reconnect with family and friends, a big portion of travelers are also looking to enjoy simple pleasures like being in contact with nature and spending more time outdoors. Booking.com’s study shows that there has been an increase in endorsements such as hiking (94%), clean air (50%), nature (44%), and relaxation (33%) since the start of the pandemic. Their research shows that two-thirds of participants are looking to spend time outside or with their family and 56% intend on traveling to rural areas.
If your vacation rental is located in a more rural or nature-filled area, it’s time to promote these aspects to draw in potential guests and increase bookings!
What Will Guests Look for in a Vacation Rental?
Safety and Cleanliness
As the owner of a vacation rental, you must take into account the cleanliness of your home so that guests feel safe. According to the Booking.com study, 79% of travelers from around the world will take more precautions due to the virus. How well prepared and sanitized a property is will be a critical factor for guests when deciding to book a vacation rental.
Expectations are higher than ever before and it’s important to exceed them. 70% of travelers will book a rental only if the hygiene and health measures applied are clear in the description and 75% prefer that disinfectants and antibacterial products are used when cleaning.
If you don’t have a vacation rental website already, now is the time to get started. Not only will this give you full control and flexibility in terms of updating content and information for your guests, but it’ll also transmit more credibility and professionalism. Highlight every COVID-19 cleaning protocol on your website and watch your bookings increase in a matter of weeks.
Not only will guests be more demanding when it comes to cleaning, but prices will be another decisive element when it comes to booking vacation rentals. Booking.com states that 62% of surveyed travelers will consider money more when planning a trip and 55% will look for promotions and discounts.
Flexible Cancellation Policies
Travelers will also place great importance on the communication and transparency that owners have with reporting cancellations, refunds, and insurance. The current situation of uncertainty has made flexible cancellations and refunds a must when it comes to vacation rentals.
As an owner, make sure to communicate all the necessary information with your guests and offer flexibility for those booking your property.
As previously mentioned, remote workers are an important guest to target and consider during these times. Adapting your vacation rental to this audience is a good opportunity that can help your business generate its normal income despite an overall drop in tourism.
This doesn’t mean that you have to convert your home into an office, but if you want to attract the attention of ‘workationers’, we recommend creating a workspace with office supplies and making sure you have enough tables and chairs in the house to be able to work comfortably all day. And above all, make sure you have fast Wi-Fi!
Damian Sheridan, director of the Book Direct Show, shares that “if 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that life is unpredictable and that we need to be highly adaptable and proactive to survive and succeed.” He adds that “domestic travel and digital nomads will continue to be an important driver in the short-term rental market as will outdoor accommodation such as camping, caravanning, and glamping. Family travel with pets will be increasingly common. If you haven’t already, now is the time to identify your guest avatar for 2021 and focus your efforts on appealing to that demographic.”
Inspiration for New Travel Destinations
To distract themselves during the months of confinement, many travelers have turned to social media to seek inspiration and plan for future travel.
Using social media to promote your vacation rental and interact with potential guests can boost your bookings and strengthen your brand image and reputation. Consider using free platforms like Instagram or Facebook to post photographs and other content of your property. It might seem intimidating at first, but we promise that it’s worth the effort!
While travel and tourism may have taken a hard hit in 2020, the new year is looking promising for this sector. An abundance of time at home has made people want to explore new places and make up for lost time. In fact, a whopping 65% of travelers have reported their excitement to travel again.
Now that you know what the trends are for the new year, it’s time to get down to business! It’s essential to know the needs of your guests and the situation of the industry in order to act accordingly. By adapting your vacation rental and preparing the right strategy for it, you will guarantee a successful 2021.
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