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A Nation of Vacations: Are Home Rentals Shaping the Future?

Published on October 7, 2021, at 6:10 p.m.
by Elise Luoma.

Woods, water and waitlists describe travel in the era of COVID-19. With vacation rentals skyrocketing, companies such as Vrbo and Airbnb have seen some of their greatest successes. Safety commitments and updated health practices are key ways both rental sites have pledged to gain trust with their customers.

Photo by Dino Reichmuth on Unsplash

Road trips and pandemic vacation habits have taken over the travel industry and benefitted rental companies more than ever. Vrbo reported a 30% increase in rental demand continuing into the fall months, while Airbnb saw an uptick in family travel to remote destinations.

Despite price increases and pandemic-era travel, Vrbo has promoted its safety initiative, Book with Confidence Guarantee. It provides payment protection, offers live 24/7 customer support, and encourages property owners to expand their cancellation policies and flexibility. The rental conglomerate has also added a “highly rated for cleanliness” filter for renters to use in their search process.

Airbnb released the Airbnb Enhanced Clean initiative, which requires hosts to commit to its five-step enhanced cleaning process backed by the U.S. surgeon general and social-distancing guidelines. Its Extenuating Circumstances Policy helps cover cancellations if a renter contracts COVID-19 before their stay.

Photo by Alberto Casetta on Unsplash

These messages and commitments have caused renters to become more confident in booking rentals — resulting in increased domestic travel to rural destinations. The Great Outdoors trend has allowed Northern Wisconsin, the Whitefish Mountain of Montana, and the Black Hills of South Dakota to be some of the most booked destinations of summer 2021 on Airbnb. People are flocking to these areas using personal or rental cars in an attempt to minimize contact with other travelers and maximize quality family time.

Photo by STIL on Unsplash

Contrary to the Northwoods trend, Vrbo has seen a surge of bookings for its second shoulder season in Hawaii and various Southeast beach destinations. The ebb and flow of travel restrictions and ever-changing COVID-19 guidelines haven’t prevented travelers from planning their vacations well in advance — leading to fully booked properties and waitlists.

While the future of travel may involve Flexcations and precise planning, people are able to combine work and play more than ever in an effort to make up for lost travel time. Vrbo and Airbnb have gotten creative on how to not only promote their services but also cultivate their values. The travel habits and concerns of renters have led rental companies to be more accommodating and understanding during changing seasons, which define the future of vacationing.

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