Over the past year, coronavirus has canceled weddings, family reunions, and a host of other plans. But college students are determined not to let it do away with this year's spring break.
Though roughly 60% of colleges have put the kibosh on spring break this year, according to the College Crisis Initiative at Davidson College, offering shorter breaks or wellness days instead of an extended break, many students are making travel plans anyway -- especially those taking classes online and having the option to log on from anywhere.
In fact, Florida in particular has seen a surge of younger travelers, with area theme parks getting sold out and beaches getting loaded with bodies. Miami in particular is booming, with projected hotel occupancy for the month of March at 72% capacity.
From a public health perspective, it's a recipe for disaster. But for real estate investors, a spring break revival could be a serious windfall.
Hotels and property owners stand to benefit
2020 was a horrible year for hotels, with record-low occupancy rates and disturbingly low revenue. A surge in spring break bookings could work wonders for hotels, especially on the heels of a recent CDC announcement encouraging newly vaccinated Americans not to travel.
Vacation home owners can benefit in a very big way, too. If the demand for beach-adjacent housing increases this month in conjunction with spring break activity, property owners can command higher prices for their homes -- and enjoy some added revenue coming off of what may have been a lackluster year.
Still, precautions should be taken when welcoming spring breakers -- because the last thing vacation property owners can afford to do is become superspreading hubs. For one thing, property owners should expressly ban parties on the premises and consider increasing security deposits as a means of motivating short-term renters to play by the rules. Property owners should also enforce occupancy rules -- if a given home is meant to sleep six, its lease terms should indicate that only that many guests can stay at the property overnight.
Hotels and vacation home owners alike can also go the extra mile by providing guests with extra face masks and hand sanitizer -- both items, if used consistently, could help prevent or limit the spread of COVID-19, even in more crowded areas. And as has already been the case for a year now, proper cleaning and sanitizing between guests is key.
Vacation home owners can also try to encourage guests to spend more time outdoors and less time packed inside. That could mean adding outdoor seating or installing features like a grill or fire pit. Of course, that only minimizes the risk of infection somewhat, since guests will, conceivably, be sharing rooms or close quarters while sleeping. But guests may also choose to invite spring breakers staying at other properties or hotels over for meals, so providing a superior outdoor setup (like an outdoor kitchen) could keep more bodies outside the home rather than indoors.
The Millionacres bottom line
After a year of living with restrictions galore, many people are just plain fed up, and that extends to college students who refuse to give up the spring break experience after 12 months of misery. While hotels can benefit from more reservations and vacation property owners can capitalize on an uptick in bookings, the risk of spreading COVID-19 cannot be overlooked -- and should be mitigated to the greatest extent possible.