COVID-19 has deeply impacted the short-term rental industry. And while we are seeing some regions beginning to ease restrictions, we are just starting to understand the ripple effect of coronavirus on our ecosystem over the last couple of months specifically.
After analyzing our own data here at Guesty, which consists of reservations across all major bookings channels, such as Airbnb, Booking.com, Vrbo, Agoda, and more, we’ve pinpointed four global trends that emerged in March and April 2020 as a result of COVID-19, showing us not only how the pandemic has impacted this ecosystem in the near-term, but also what the industry might look like once travel returns to normal. We hope that by sharing these insights, our users as well as other property management companies, can successfully navigate COVID-19 and prepare for recovery. See this infographic for the highlights, with a full analysis of these key trends below.
1) Travelers Are Booking Longer Stays Worldwide
One of the biggest changes in travel patterns is the length of stay per reservation. Our data shows that worldwide, travelers are booking longer stays on average for the near-term and in the future. Whereas pre-coronavirus the average length of stay was approximately 4.5 nights, this number has now doubled, increasing to 9 days.
What explains this change? Even with restrictions currently in place, people are still traveling and seeking out accommodations. These travel personas are displaced tourists who cannot get home, quarantiners who need to isolate for 14+ days, healthcare workers who need safe places to stay away from their families and near to hospitals, or business workers who need a quiet work-from-home environment.
For guests who have saved up vacation days, and for those that had to put spring and summer vacations on hold, they are likely booking longer stays for trips later in the year.
2) Early Signs of Recovery in Time for the Holidays
According to Guesty’s data, reservations for June to August 2020 across all major booking channels worldwide are 25% of what they were this time last year. However, there are still plenty of reasons to be optimistic about a post-coronavirus world, especially as we approach holiday season.
The current number of reservations in our system for fall is 75% of the volume compared to last year; for winter, that figure jumps to 85%. Bookings for two of the biggest travel holidays, Christmas and Thanksgiving are both up 40% and 38% respectively, compared to the same time last year. New Year’s Eve travel is also on the rise, with 23% more bookings than this time in 2019.
What’s unique is that travelers are booking holiday vacations earlier than usual, likely taking advantage of discounted rates on future stays or the relaxed cancellation policies hosts are offering to incentivize bookings.
3) Domestic Travel to Bounce Back First
With uncertainty over international flights and border closures, it’s no surprise that we’re seeing an increase in domestic travel reservations for fall and winter 2020, specifically in the United States.
The rising popularity of domestic travel could result in the renaissance of the American road trip as domestic tourists opt for scenic national parks given their wide-open spaces, a stark contrast to traveling by plane to a condensed, metropolitan city. We’ll likely see more people heading to secluded destinations, like the Florida Keys or the Colorado Rockies for winter vacations, rather than overseas.
In keeping with the desire to avoid crowded areas, we anticipate that post-virus, more people will begin traveling to make up for lost time — and they’ll likely be opting for private short-term rentals over traditional hotel stays to avoid busy common areas like lobbies, spas and dining halls.
4) Property Management Companies Are Pivoting Quickly
We’ve seen property management companies all over the world respond in record time to this ever-changing situation, from providing shelter to COVID-19 frontline workers, or empathizing with guests who may be stranded in their country unable to travel home.
In addition, hosts are implementing tech to limit human interaction, such as keyless entry solutions so no face-to-face key exchange is necessary, updating cleaning protocols to keep guests healthy and safe and properties properly sanitized, stocking up on amenities and entertainment so guests are busy and fed for extended periods of time, and offering flexible cancellation terms to be as considerate as possible during this time.
Navigating Coronavirus as a Property Management Company
For more resources on how to ensure business stability during COVID-19 and prepare for the eventual return of travel, check out our Coronavirus Infocenter for all the latest guides, resources, and information on how you navigate this global health crisis.