How Revenge Travel is Impacting the Vacation Rental Industry

June 14, 2021

The COVID-19 pandemic has transformed the way we live, work, socialize and travel, it’s unlikely the travel landscape will ever look the same again. We have seen it all when it comes to pandemic travel buzzwords: bubble travel, pod travel, vaccination travel, COVID wellness travel, bleisure travel, workcations, vaxications, and the list goes on. The lines have been blurred on all sorts of levels as we ventured into unchartered territory not knowing the impact of the pandemic on the future of the travel industry.

Revenge Travel Trends

The new buzzword on the block is “Revenge Travel”, a chance to make up for lost travel time, quench the pent-up demand, take back our freedom (and power), kick COVID to the curb, and get back on the road with a deeper appreciation for travel. Research shows Americans are ready to travel more than ever before, to experience new destinations, safe activities, outdoor adventures, and reunite with family and friends in a safe setting.

If you’re a vacation rental property manager, the chances are you are already seeing the impact on your business, from day-to-day operations to booking trends and higher guest expectations. Here’s a glimpse at how revenge travel is impacting our industry and how we can capitalize on the exciting travel rebound it is creating.

Higher Booking Volumes

There is a sense of urgency to travel, scratch the itch and satisfy the bug. Wanderlust is at an all-time high and the rebound of the travel industry has begun. Travel demand is reaching new heights as vaccination rates increase, cases decline, and travel confidence grows. Research shows that 54% of travelers are planning a post-vaccination “revenge trip” within 1-2 months of receiving the vaccine. This is already evident in the summer travel boom! Cruise bookings are on the rise, national parks are booked solid, car rentals are virtually impossible and 85% of vacation rental property managers are experiencing higher booking volumes than in previous years as 78% of US and EU travelers are more likely to book a vacation rental above all other types of accommodations in the next 18 months.

Spontaneous Getaways

Expedia’s Annual Vacation Deprivation Study shows that 64% of respondents felt vacation deprived in 2020 and are more motivated than ever to pack their bags and hit the road. Industry experts are seeing impulse travel and spontaneous getaways trending with last-minute and same-day bookings increasing. The average booking window is down 16% compared to 2019 and 46% compared to 2020 with 85% of property managers reporting an increase in last-minute bookings.

Extended Stays

While we’re seeing shorter booking windows, the average length of stay is increasing with 54% of property managers reporting longer stays and summer bookings averaging 7 days or longer.

We’ve seen property managers offer guest discounts to extend their stay to fill any occupancy gaps on either side of the reservation. An innovative way to increase occupancy without the costs of a new guest.

Bigger Spending

The confinements of the pandemic brought on a new and deeper appreciation for travel. Travelers are taking longer, more expensive vacations and spending more on their travel experiences than ever before. Big-bucket list trips have been moved forward in the fear they may never happen, family reunions and group bookings are on the increase as friends and family reunite, and to be honest we all deserve a luxury vacation after a year of canceled plans and lockdowns. The statistics show that 54% of property managers report that guests are spending more with the average booking an impressive 70% higher than 2020. Luxury vacations are on the rise!

Elevated Amenities

We’re all spending more time away from public places and travelers are searching for the comforts and conveniences of home, away from home. The change in travel behaviors and work-life balance has highlighted three key amenities that are searched consistently across all markets (and should be highlighted in your property listings if not already!):

  • WiFi: Remote working is the new norm so comfortable workspaces and high-speed WiFi are essential.
  • Pet-Friendly: Domestic travel to drive-to-destinations is the trend so travelers are looking (and prepared to pay more) for pet-friendly vacation rentals.
  • Outdoor Amenities: Pools, hot tubs, BBQ grills, and outdoor spaces are among the top searches for vacation rental amenities.

The best amenities for your property depend on your destination and vacation rental market. Your amenity offerings impact your occupancy rate, ADR and RevPar so market research is essential to remain competitive.

Flexibility and Cleanliness

These have been top travel trends since the start of the pandemic and not something to shelf anytime soon. Guests are still looking for flexible booking and cancellation policies allowing them last-minute cancellations, changes to bookings, refund requests, and peace of mind. Nearly half of US travelers rank free cancellation higher than price, yet a clean, sanitized home remains the top consideration (even over luxury amenities).

Domestic Travel & Rural Destinations in the lead

International travel is still slow to return with 9 in 10 US travelers playing it safe and searching domestic, rural, and off the beaten path domestic travel this summer. 2021 is the year of the road trip and drive to destinations are seeing a quicker recovery with 63% of travelers ranking a quiet getaway as their preferred vacation. Some travelers are going as far as possible without leaving the country (Hawaii, Alaska, and the US Virgin Islands) while those determined to cross borders are heading to Mexico and the Caribbean.

Tips to Capitalize on the Revenge Travel Trend

As vacation rental professionals we need to tap into every given opportunity, take advantage of the travel trends emerging as the new norm, and market accordingly. A large chain hotel has recently capitalized on this trend in an innovative way offering guests a “Revenge Traveler Package” or “Get-it-all-out Vacation Package” as the ultimate cure for cabin fever.

It’s time to be creative in your marketing efforts and think outside the box, but don’t forget the basics:

  • Create Content: Interact with your guests with creative content, blog posts, local news and events, new properties in your portfolio, last-minute discounts, and a call to action. Take advantage of social media – Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, LinkedIn or you could even be a TikTok winner!
  • Optimize Your Listings: Highlight your USP and amenities in your property description and make your guests aware of enhanced cleaning and flexible cancellation policies.
  • Update Amenities: Ensure all your amenities are accurately reflected on your listings and OTA listings. Make sure all the boxes are ticked or the metasearch engines won’t find you.
  • A Safe Stay: Let your guests know how you plan to enhance the guest experience and offer them a safe, sanitized, and socially distanced stay. Offer grocery delivery prior to arrival, contactless check-in, PPE supplies in the home, and a personal voice concierge with all the information they need about the home and the local area.

Travel Advisories: Keep your upcoming guests notified of US Travel Advisories and CDC COVID-19 travel recommendations for your destination.