A Summer of Success Stories

October 19, 2021

The vacation rental industry is incredibly resilient, adaptable, and boasts a history of success stories.

We’ve survived fires, hurricanes, and floods, and continue to experience growth in our markets. Still, perhaps the biggest success story of our industry is the adaptability and unprecedented growth of the vacation rental industry during the highly disruptive COVID-19 pandemic.

Vacation rental property managers responded swiftly to the change in the travel landscape, enhancing their cleaning protocols, adding an extra layer of sanitization, and ensuring that their properties offered a safe stay for those ready to travel again. Travelers soon learned the benefits of a home-away-from-home over a cramped hotel room in a very public space that makes social distancing virtually impossible.

By April 2021, only a year after the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the US short-term rental industry had recovered demands above 2019 levels and experts were predicting a record-breaking summer for the vacation rental industry. Again, we did not disappoint!

Vacation rentals quickly became the preferred choice of lodging for guests giving a rental home a try for the first time; international travelers traded their globe-trotting trip for a vacation closer to home. Before long, demand began to exceed supply in sought-after vacation destinations and, despite labor shortages, the summer of 2021 was indeed a record-breaking success.

Looking forward, even though the pandemic still poses a level of uncertainty for travelers, the response of property managers and professionalization of the vacation rental industry has gained the trust of travelers to choose a home over a hotel. International travel looks set to open up soon; however, that remains unreliable and comes with its own set of problems (new Covid variants, vaccine passports, quarantine, etc.). For now, staying local (and booking direct with a professional property manager) is safer. State parks, coastal resorts, mountain towns, and easy drive-to destinations remain the top places to travel in the US.

The Emerald Coast is a top-trending vacation destination on the radar of many domestic travelers thanks to the warm climate, award-winning beaches, and an abundance of outdoor activities.

RealJoy Vacations have been perfecting the family vacation on the Emerald Coast for years and are one of the fastest-growing private companies in the US. RealJoy Vacations started in 2009 with ten properties and in the last three years, have grown their inventory from 275 properties to 900 vacation homes and condos. Their success story continues with a record-breaking 2021 summer season both in occupancy and ADR (average daily rates).

RealJoy Vacations COO Ryan Olin said, “Summer was record-breaking, just like the rest of the year has been. Occupancy was at 97%, similar to past years but the big difference was rates. We were able to raise our rates on average 45% higher than our best past summer.”

In addition to record-breaking occupancy levels for vacation rentals, restaurants and local activity providers on the Emerald Coast reported a busier summer season with the pent-up demand for travel and cabin fever driving travelers to spend time outdoors and live life to the fullest.

The award-winning Buccaneer Pirate Cruise and Southern Star Dolphin Cruises are top Emerald Coast attractions and were full to capacity throughout the summer season, with visitors from every state across the US heading to Florida’s Emerald Coast. Owners Steve and Wendy Wilson set sail on their first Destin dolphin cruise over 25 years ago and successfully set record numbers this summer.

“It was amazing, over the top … mostly because we are a drive-to economy. For us and many people here, it set record numbers; the people who came had the resources to do the different activities, whether it was fishing or dolphin cruises. Everybody seemed full to capacity.”

A recent AirDNA market review shows that demand is still an average of 17% higher than 2019 levels for August and September and 23% higher for the fall season. There is no better time to grow your inventory, promote your homes and destination, and partner with Xplorie to take the guest experience to a whole new level!