Top Vacation Rental Trends for 2022
Looking back, 2021 was a record-breaking year for many property managers and vacation destinations. As restrictions dropped, pent-up travel demand resulted in “revenge travel” with record breaking occupancy levels, raised ADRs (average daily rates) and not enough supply to meet the demand.
With the effects of Covid still evident and the continual threat of new strains there are two travel camps – those still building up the confidence to leave the safety of their homes, and those adamant to get in as many travel miles as possible in the event of future travel restrictions.
AirDNA’s US Short Term Rental Outlook Report for 2022 shows that demand is expected to grow at a slower pace than 2021 increasing 14.1% in 2022 over 2021 levels, with occupancy levels staying strong at an average of 59.8% for 2022. The good news – nearly three-quarters of travelers surveyed by Booking.com stated they will say yes to any vacation opportunity in 2022, if budget allows!
Here’s a look at the trends driving the short-term rental market for 2022 and shaping the future of the vacation rental industry – an industry full of passionate people finding their niche and setting their own trends.
Traveler confidence was crushed during Covid! This resulted in an increased demand for mountain, coastal and rural destinations with wide open spaces, fewer crowds, and secluded vacation homes for families (or travel pods) to vacation safely, work remotely and escape the confines of home.
Domestic road trips to National Parks (44 US National Parks set new visitor records in 2021!), coastal beaches, and charming mountain towns remain the top searched destinations for travel in 2022 – For travelers planning to cross borders, Hawaii and Mexico are still topping the charts for international travel. Mexico is Travel+Leisure’s 2022 Destination of the Year and is fast becoming one of the world’s most visited vacation destinations.
Urban destinations were hit hardest by Covid’s impact on travel, but as attractions reopen and mask mandates ease, travelers are making their way back to the big cities for leisure travel, and essential business travel. The pandemic put an abrupt end to business travel – companies implemented a hybrid work model and advanced technology for their team to effectively work remotely. Global business travel spending fell 54% in 2020 and while gradual growth is expected in 2022, it will be a couple of years before business travel fully recovers.
Future Booking Trends
Travelers are thinking and booking ahead with the booking window averaging at 60 days compared to 30 days in 2021. Last year’s occupancy levels came as a shock to many travelers who didn’t plan ahead and failed to secure their dream vacation home, or tickets to their favorite attractions – all due to surging traveler numbers.
With the hybrid workplaces looking to be the new norm for 2022, travelers have increased flexibility in when and how they travel and are booking longer stays to include both work and play in their chosen destination. This has blurred the lines between seasonality considerably with many destinations experiencing unpredictable demand – peak summer seasons running into second summers, and higher out of season occupancy rates.
Attract this type of traveler to your homes by promoting your work-friendly vacation rentals, adding a workspace to the homes that don’t already have, offering discounted rates for extended stays and mid-week breaks, and creating an environment for your guests to work and play.
Top Priorities for Travelers
Trust, flexibility and safety are top priorities for travelers booking a vacation rental in 2022. The pandemic resulted in hosts and property managers having to enhance their cleaning protocols, process endless cancellations, and review their cancellation policies to remain competitive. These trends are set to stay.
Travelers are making their vacation rental choices based on safety and cleanliness. In a recent survey by Booking.com, one third of travelers ranked the ability to cancel and reschedule free of charge their top travel priority for 2022. Offering your guests trust, flexibility and safety is key to staying competitive in 2022.
Sustainable Travel & Eco-Experiences
Eco-Travel is trending! The sustainable travel movement is set to continue into 2022 as travelers seek more meaningful experiences and authentic connection over material things. There’s a desperate need to unplug from our fast-paced world, embark on cultural and eco-experiences that enhance physical and mental well-being, give back to the local community, and play a part in saving our planet.
In a study on Sustainable Travel, over 80% of travelers stated they planned to stay in sustainable accommodation, with 73% more likely to book their vacation in an eco-friendly home. A few simple steps and you can create sustainable vacation homes and offer guests a green, eco-friendly vacation – from green cleaning supplies, organic bath products and eco-friendly linens, to modern technology and smart home automation to minimize energy consumption.
From your homes to the community – use your website and marketing strategy to promote unique cultural experiences, top foodie spots, health & wellness activities, and eco-adventures to attract these travelers and give them an opportunity to be part of your community involvement. A simple (and easy to implement) suggestion is leaving a branded bag for them to donate their non-perishable “left-overs” to a shelter. Simple steps to promote sustainable tourism.
Tech-savvy Travelers & Homes
Our industry is driven by relationships and technology cannot replace warm hospitality and a welcoming smile! The role of technology is to streamline your business processes, saving valuable time and money, manage and market your homes, communicate effectively with your guests, and meet guest expectations during their travel journey and in the home. While staying ahead of the game requires leveraging the power of technology in your daily operations, guests are also seeking automation in the home.
Technology can enhance the guest experience at every touchpoint of their journey with your brand. Gone are the days when free WiFi was a strong selling point! The world advanced overnight during the pandemic and guest expectations are higher than ever. A contactless stay is the norm and most professional property managers have made the switch to keyless entry and self-check in – but it may be time to take it a step further with innovative in-house solutions like smart home automation, interactive digital guidebooks, and a voice concierge to guide your guests through the home, and the destination.
Guest Experience & Travel Journey
Short -term rental data is readily available through your integrated in-house tech-stack and cutting edge data analytics tools. This data offers real-time insights into travel trends, destination market trends and future forecasts to remain competitive, stay ahead of the game, understand your guests travel journey and destination on a deeper level – and deliver the ultimate guest experience, time and time again!
In closing, remember the guest experience begins with their first interaction with your brand with a high chance of this being your website. Statistics show 70% of travelers do their research on a smartphone and by 2023 an estimated 700 million travelers will have booked a vacation online! Does your website (and social media platforms!) attract the attention of dreamy travelers seeking their next vacation home or destination, or do they click right by?
An attention grabbing website will attract new guests, drive demand to your homes, and inspire potential travelers to trust your brand for future travels. Highlight guest services that enhance their stay (airport transportation, shipping gear, babysitting services, personal chefs, massage and yoga, gear rentals ….), create a blog to highlight and personalize the attractions and experiences in your destination, and share your rave reviews – 72% of new travelers research reviews before booking!