2020 was a tricky year for travel. Quarantine mandates, local restrictions, and safety concerns caused a lot of people's travel plans to change last year, and in some areas, that impacted vacation property owners in a very big way. As we look to a new year -- one in which the pandemic has the potential to come to an end with the rollout of new vaccines -- it'll help real estate investors know what travel patterns to look out for. With that in mind, here are a few key takeaways from the VRBO 2021 Trend Report.
1. Travel should pick up
The finding: A lot of people put travel plans on hold last year, but once it becomes safer to get out and about, travel could explode. In fact, 65% of people plan to travel more than they did pre-coronavirus, and 33% are willing to spend more than they normally would on a vacation.
The takeaway: Rental property owners could soon be in line for an uptick in revenue, especially if they price their homes strategically.
2. Road trips will dominate
The finding: A good 59% of families say they're more likely to drive rather than fly to their next destination.
The takeaway: Given that car travel can be a safer, less expensive prospect, that makes sense. It also means more travelers may seek out rentals relatively close to home, as many won't have the stomach for a multiday road trip. Either way, vacation property owners who can offer convenient, on-site parking may have a clear advantage.
3. Access to outdoor activities will be key
The finding: Many people have embraced the great outdoors in the wake of the pandemic, and now, 61% say they're more likely to visit an outdoorsy destination than an urban one when they go on vacation. But not all outdoor activities are created equal -- 54% of travelers are more likely to visit a national park than an amusement park.
The takeaway: Vacation properties that are park-adjacent could really emerge as winners here, and owners should talk up proximity to hiking and other outdoor amenities in their listings.
4. Waterfront properties should do well
The finding: Travel to lakes and rivers increased last year, and chances are, these destinations will continue to attract guests in 2021 as more people favor the outdoors. Surprisingly, though, beach trips declined last year -- perhaps due to the fact that beaches tend to be more crowded, whereas lakes offer more room to spread out.
The takeaway: The demand for beach houses could rise this summer if things improve on the pandemic front.
5. Cabins are a draw
The finding: VRBO demand for cabins increased nearly 25% last year, and that trend is apt to continue as travelers seek out remote destinations.
The takeaway: Cabin owners can jump on this trend and play up the digital detox angle to entice those who may be looking for a true escape.
The Millionacres bottom line
As an investment property owner, it's important to stay on top of travel trends. That way, you can pivot accordingly to help ensure a steady income stream. While the above findings may only apply to the coming year, you can use them to develop a strategy for listing your vacation rental in the near term.