Last summer, when the pandemic was raging, many Americans made the decision to stay close to home rather than travel. But this summer is shaping up to be very different. Though the pandemic certainly isn't over, at this point, a nice chunk of the U.S. population has been vaccinated against COVID-19, which means a lot more people are comfortable with the idea of travel.
Still, many trip-takers this summer are opting to rent private vacation homes rather than stay at hotels. That way, they get more space to spread out with their families, and they can avoid close encounters with other guests in lobbies, elevators, and other common areas.
Of course, this puts real estate investors who own vacation homes in a great spot. According to property management platform Guesty, reservation volume for short-term rentals was 140% higher for July 4th weekend this year than in 2020 and 47% higher than that same weekend in 2019.
In fact, the outlook is positive for the remainder of the summer, with reservation volume being 270% higher from July through September than it was during the same period in 2020 and 80% higher than the same time frame in 2019.
And it's not just volume that's picking up. Rates are climbing as well.
In July, average nightly rates are 29% higher than they were at the same time both last year and in 2019. August rates, meanwhile, are coming in 30% higher than 2020's levels and 26% higher than what rates looked like in 2019. And for September, nightly rates are averaging 30% higher than in 2020 and 34% higher than in 2019.
If you own a vacation home, now's really the time to capitalize on higher demand. Here's how.
1. Offer flexible check-in times
One advantage hotels can have over private homes is the ability to accommodate different check-in times, what with their numerous rooms and extensive cleaning staff. If you want to attract guests and get away with charging a premium for your short-term rental, aim to be flexible with check-in times when possible.
You may need to leave yourself with a certain amount of time between guests, but if your normal check-in time is 4 p.m. and you have guests vacating the day before, there's no reason not to offer an early check-in.
2. Go big on amenities
The more perks you're able to offer your guests, the more they might be willing to pay. Consider upgrading your towels if they've seen better days, springing for an extra streaming service for entertainment, and investing in some nice soaps for the bathroom. These modest touches could go a long way.
At the same time, it pays to take inventory of your furniture. Are your couches roomy and comfortable? Do you have ample outdoor seating for larger families? These are the sorts of amenities guests look for, so it could pay to invest in them now.
3. Take cleaning and sanitizing to the next level
We're still in a pandemic, and so many travelers are still pretty concerned about proper sanitation. If you make it clear that you go the extra mile at your rental, you may be rewarded in the form of more guests -- guests who are also willing to pay a generous nightly rate.
It's pretty clear that now's a great time to own a vacation property. If your goal is to take full advantage of the summer boom, a few simple moves on your part could be the ticket to added revenue.