COVID-19 has made it risky to travel by plane or to stay in hotels where large groups of people could gather. This has led to many Americans considering other options for rest and relaxation, including staycations and nearby vacation rentals that they can drive to in a few short hours. As Dr. Keith Armitage, professor at Case Western School of Medicine, told USA Today, “The ideal situation would be an Airbnb or a rental that had been empty for a couple of days.”
The net effect during the summer appears to be an uptick in vacation rentals while hotel stays have been in decline, according to data from Interpret’s New Media Measure®, which shows an increase in Airbnb rentals from Q1 2020 to Q2 2020, while major hotel chains suffered slight declines. The year-over-year numbers are down across the board for both vacation rentals and hotels, but it’s the former that is showing early signs of recovery.
Economic experts from the tourism industry believe it could take 2-3 years for hotel revenues to fully recover, and that represents an opportunity for the vacation rental market. Airbnb has already looked to capitalize with some unique marketing for the Halloween season. As reported by Adweek, Airbnb has teamed with the town of Hell, Michigan to offer a stay in a spookily decorated home for just $31 per night. Brands and celebrities have been capitalizing on the home rental trend too – in September, for example, the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air’s mansion was made available for just $30 per night in honor of the TV show’s 30th anniversary. Interpret expects the vacation rentals market to continue to creatively incentivize customers in the coming months – people will only stay at home for so long.