A Favorable Forecast for the 2021 Holiday Season

October 25, 2021

The summer madness is not slowing down. Trends show that guests are continuing to book nearly two months earlier than usual. In-demand vacation destinations are experiencing record-breaking occupancy levels this fall, winter and festive holiday season. And, property managers of sought-after destinations are celebrating bookings well into 2022.

As the holiday season approaches, one thing we’re confident of is that revenge travel is here to stay.

Ready to travel now more than ever before, people are booking earlier than usual to get ahead of the demand.

Melanie Fish, Vrbo’s travel expert, said, “We typically see December bookings peak in October and November, but families are locking in their holiday vacation plans much earlier than usual. Vacation homes have been quickly scooped up during every popular travel season this year, so it’s no surprise that families are planning ahead to ensure they have a great place to spend the holidays together.”

Internet searches for holiday season vacations are 5X higher this year than last. While some travelers hold out for last-minute bookings, many have already finalized their vacation plans for the season. People want something to look forward to – Thanksgiving, family reunions, twinkling Christmas trees, and fantastic getaways!

Longer Vacation Plans

Combining work and leisure, travelers take full advantage of the flexibility to work remotely. The average length of stay for the holiday season has increased from 4.5 to 7 nights. People realize the boost travel has to their mental health, so why wouldn’t they take a few extra days, spend time with loved ones and work remotely in the vacation destination of their dreams.

Travel Statistics for the Holiday Season

The Holiday Travel Guide from Hopper predicts around 1.9 million daily travelers for Thanksgiving and 2 million travelers daily for Christmas, which is approximately 75% of the 2019 air passenger numbers and double the 2020 numbers. Airfares are up from 2020 but still lower than 2019 pricing, with international airfares at historic lows. With the recent announcement that the US is opening its borders to 33 countries in November, hopefully, international guests will return to their favorite US destinations.

The good news for vacation rental property managers continues. The latest travel statistics show that Thanksgiving bookings increased 21% year-over-year and 29% from 2019. Occupancy for the Christmas holiday season is up 32% from last year. In addition, the demand for vacation rentals has pushed average nightly rates up 23% in one year. Industry experts predict rates in popular vacation markets could increase 82% over Christmas 2019, making this the most expensive holiday period in the US. Yet, demand continues to grow.

Top-Trending Destinations for the Holidays

The top-trending destinations for the holiday season remain much the same as we’ve seen through the pandemic – warm-weather beach destinations, ski resorts, and quiet mountain destinations. For snow-seeking skiers, Utah and Colorado reign supreme. As for top beach vacation destinations, Mexico, Hawaii, and the Caribbean top the list.

Trip Stacking

Vacation rental property managers need to be aware of trip stacking, a new industry trend brought on by the pandemic. Trip stacking is where uncertain travelers book more than one vacation at a time in case one gets canceled due to continually changing travel restrictions. Flexible cancellation policies during the pandemic have made this easy for travelers. While most postpone their “stacked trip” rather than cancel, this can easily disrupt occupancy calendars for vacation rental property managers.

Prepare for Profits

Recent Vrbo data shows that the demand for vacation rental homes has increased more than 19% compared to 2019. There is still uncertainty due to COVID-19 and the new variants; however, it’s evident that many travelers are choosing vacation rentals as the best place to stay for privacy, space, cleanliness, and the comfort of home. Being prepared for this increased interest is the first step to a good holiday season.

  • Prepare your vacation rentals to leave a lasting first impression. A little effort goes a long way and arriving at a warm, welcoming home is sure to impress your guests, add value to their vacation and encourage five-star rave reviews.
  • Optimize your marketing efforts to ensure your guests know the benefits of booking their vacation with your brand. Create email blasts for your available homes highlighting the unique selling points, nearby attractions, holiday events, and COVID cleaning protocols. Look at extending your marketing efforts to include international travelers taking advantage of opening borders.
  • Personalize the guest experience at every touchpoint possible to meet and exceed their expectations. Offer engaging in-house experiences such as a complimentary chef, private massage, and a digital concierge customized with content curated for that location.
  • Add value to the guest’s stay. Offering items such as flexible cancellation policies and insurance coverage provide additional peace of mind for your guest. Transportation, luggage shipping, baby equipment, and grocery delivery are conveniences that take a guest’s experience to the next level.

Partnering with Xplorie elevates the overall guest experience and satisfaction with free admission to top local tours, attractions, and activities. Here’s wishing you a fabulous, festive and favorable season.