News of Potential Vaccine Ignites Traveler Confidence

December 28, 2020

On Tuesday, December 8, 2020, 90-year old Margaret Keenan dressed up in a festive Christmas penguin shirt and received the world’s first COVID-19 vaccination in Coventry, England. Almost a week later on Monday, 14 December, as the COVID-related death toll in the US surpassed 300,000, vaccines were delivered to all fifty US states and the rollout of the vaccination began among frontline healthcare workers. Powerful images of these moments flooded the media outlets and with fears of a second wave mounting across the world, for many these are images of renewed hope.

Margaret Keenan, the first person to receive the COVID-19 vaccine

Margaret Keenan, the first person to receive the COVID-19 vaccine

Renewed Hope

The COVID vaccine was developed in under a year which is both controversial (the first ever RNA vaccine to be approved for use in humans) and unprecedented (a vaccine in under a year?), but the virus itself is unprecedented, controversial and surrounded by conspiracy theories.

Healthcare worker receiving the COVID-19 Vaccine

Sandra Lindsay, an intensive care nurse at LIJ Medical Center, is the first in the US to receive Pfizer Inc.’s COVID vaccine.

We have watched as our world has turned upside down, people paranoid to leave their homes, rage over the public wearing of masks, social distancing measures that separate, travel shaming and a new norm that for many is hard. While new safety protocols minimize the spread of the virus, COVID-19 is by no means under control and in order for travel to fully flourish again we need to control the spread of the coronavirus in a more aggressive manner. The US vaccination program aims to reach 100 million people by April and with increased immunity comes a decrease in the spread of the virus, a game-changer in the recovery of the travel industry.

However, according to Fauci, we should not be complacent in our behaviors as the vaccine will not have instantaneous effects.

“It’s not going to be like turning a light switch on and off,” he said. “It’s going to be gradual, and I think we will know when we see the level of infection in the country at a dramatically lower level than it is right now that we can start gradually tiptoeing towards normality.”


Travel Confidence is On the Rise!

The majority of industry professionals are being far from complacent in their behaviors. The Coronavirus pandemic has accelerated and advanced many procedures, technologies and trends in the industry. Many vacation rentals now have a virtual concierge service (no more grubby binders), contact-less direct check-in, occupancy sensors and everything the guest needs for their stay digitally at their fingertips. You can browse and book tours and activities on your phone, reserve your ski resort parking online, scan and view restaurant menus and so much more, all thanks to this boost in technology.

Looking forward, with this promising news of a 95% effective COVID-19 vaccination comes a rise in consumer travel confidence, an increase in short-term rental bookings and a glimpse of optimism in the travel industry and vacation rental market. Booking platforms have seen a substantial increase in travel searches since news of the vaccine broke, and travelers are far more confident to booking their future vacations with renewed hope.

Solid Statistics

There’s good vacation vibes all round and recent research by Guesty shows that short-term rentals are outperforming the expectations, which looks promising for the future of the vacation rental industry. Is this controversial vaccine the turning point the travel industry needs?

  • In the week following news of the vaccination there was an increase of 7% in first quarter 2021 short-term rental reservations and a 9% increase in reservation volume, across the globe.
  • Travelers are still uncertain yet impulsive, making last minute bookings. The numbers show that 15% of November bookings were made on the same day, 32% of bookings are made within one to seven days and 30% of bookings are made eight to 30 days from date of arrival.
  • Another emerging travel trend is the increase in rental rates and length of stay. The average nightly rate is 3.5% higher than last year with guests comfortable paying more for a safer stay. The average nightly stay has increased from 4 to 6 days with workcations, staycations and extended family escapes on the rise.
  • Travelers are not staying home for the holidays. The report shows that reservation volume was 14% higher for Thanksgiving and 27% higher for Labor Day than in previous years. While the numbers for Christmas and New Year peak seasons are showing lower than this time last year, with last minute bookings on the rise and a boost in traveler confidence post-vaccine, hopefully these figures will change.
  • A survey by Allianz Travel of 4,300 of their customers found that 49% of travelers would be willing to travel after the release of a proven COVID vaccine.

The COVID-19 vaccine could not have come at a better time as the US cases exceed 17 million and a recent record was set for the highest number of cases in one day with 232,086 cases being recorded. While this vaccine is controversial to many, millions of people are enthusiastic to take the jab in the hopes to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

Should these medical advances prove to be as effective as suggested, the COVID-19 vaccination will change the face of travel forever.  Projections indicate it could take years for the vaccines to be distributed across the globe. But, if it’s a requirement to board a plane, book a vacation home or visit a destination, how many will be willing to take the risk or will a negative test be sufficient for travel? While promising vaccines may put travelers at ease they bring with them a variety of procedural questions for the industry in 2021.