There is no doubt vacationing will look different this year. Major airlines saw 80% drops in Q2 revenue, the cruise industry is on a continued pause, and a majority of Americans canceled their summer travel plans.
However, a new report from Vrbo found that extended work from home periods, virtual classes and the need for a change in scenery could lead to a rise in travel during what is normally the offseason.
The consumer research study conducted by the vacation rental platform asked families about their expected travel habits for the rest of the year, resulting in hopeful statistics for the industry. Sixty-seven percent of respondents reported needing a change in scenery, and 21% said the remote work conditions could create “big opportunities” for trips throughout the rest of 2020.
In a similar vein, half of the families surveyed said flexible school schedules could also provide more opportunities for travel.
“What’s interesting is the shift in when people are traveling and how families are blending vacation time with working from home or remote learning,” said Vrbo president Jeff Hurst in a statement. “Families can use this flexibility as an opportunity to travel outside of peak seasons and try new experiences.”
These offseason trips, particularly in top travel destinations, are referred to as “flexcations.” Vrbo reported that rentals in Cape Cod, Mass., Cape May, N.J., and Ocean City, Md., have all seen at least a 20% drop in nightly pricing between August and October, coinciding with smaller crowds in the area.
This might be why families are also looking to stay away for longer. With lower rates and the ability to stay during weekdays, families are showing an increased interest in multiple weeklong stays at Vrbo locations. One-week and three- or four-week stay searches are up 15% and 25%, respectively, compared to the same period last year.
Competitor Airbnb is also reporting encouraging signs of recovery as consumers begin to venture out of their homes for getaways. In July, it saw more than 1 million booked nights in one day, the first time this has happened since March.
Despite the rebounding success of the vacation rental industry, hotels are still struggling to regain guests. Marriott reported that even after bookings rose in early July, they quickly began to fall again. This may be due to the strict cleaning protocols and minimized contact offered by rentals that allow families to feel more comfortable when the risk of spreading Covid-19 is still high.