Coronavirus Industry Insights

The New Normal: Planning is Overrated & Metropolitan Cities are Making a Comeback

August 09, 2020 |
The New Normal: Planning is Overrated & Metropolitan Cities are Making a Comeback

We recently published new findings on short-term rental booking patterns, including increasing traveller spontaneity and hosts diversifying their marketing strategies to drive more direct bookings.

This week, we took a slightly different approach, examining just how much travellers are taking advantage of flexible cancellation policies, understanding how close to check-in they are booking stays, and uncovering whether or not stays in metropolitan cities are being booked. Here’s what we found: 

1. Cancellations are a thing, especially last-minute

Annual reservation cancellations have doubled year to date. In 2019, 14% of reservations made in the same year were cancelled from January to August. This year, 30% of reservations made across all booking channels have been cancelled from January to August.

In fact in Q2 2020 alone, there were 170% more cancellations this year compared to Q2 2019. And this July compared to July 2019, we have seen a big increase in cancellations as guests get closer to the check-in date. Case in point: 22% of this July’s bookings were cancelled within 24 hours of the booking itself – this is an 18% increase compared to last July. 13% of bookings were cancelled 48 hours prior to the booking check-in date (an 11% increase from last July) and 10% cancelled 72 hours in advance of check-in (9% increase from last July)

In order to try to avoid what we can perhaps refer to as “the ugly side of flexibility” hosts should: 

  • Reach out to guests a few days in advance to confirm the reservation
  • Proactively provide COVID-19 updates specific to the area nearby the property – including open restaurants, sites to see and outdoor activities that are possible
  • Mention any special touches planned to incentivize guests to continue the trip – whether that’s a complimentary digital experience or breakfast

2. Traveller spontaneity continues – reservations are being made closer and closer to check-in

The trend of travelers making reservations closer to check-in is continuing, especially with domestic travel increasingly on the rise. In July there’s been a 5% uptick in reservations made within one day of the booking itself and a 3% uptick in same day reservations. In addition, the majority of bookings in July were made only seven days in advance of the booking itself. 

3. Travellers are booking again in major US metropolitan cities

Increased bookings in metropolitan cities – originally avoided by many with folks even giving up their apartments to escape – are now back on the map for the first time since March of this year, likely for a multitude of reasons: 

  • There’s pent up demand for travel and people simply need a change of scenery – even in their own cities (staycations)
  • People on the outskirts of cities or nearby want to safely enjoy reopened restaurants and sites, for example (long weekend stays)
  • Travellers are able to take advantage of low prices in cities

Compared to July 2019, this July 2020 we saw a 25% increase in reservations in Atlanta, a 3% increase in reservations in Chicago, a 277% increase in reservations in Dallas and an 88% increase in reservations in Miami & Miami Beach. That said, some US metropolitan cities did see a decrease in reservations – specifically Los Angeles, which saw a 12% decrease in reservations, and Washington DC which saw a 32% decrease in reservations.

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