Short-term rental bookings are proving to be a bright spot in the U.S. travel sector during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to data from AllTheRooms Analytics, a provider of short-term rental analytics.
Despite rising U.S. cases in the last two months, short-term rental bookings for the next 180 days made on platforms such as Airbnb and Vrbo have continued to rebound, and are now at 81% of their 2019 levels.
Bookings in the Sunbelt states, the epicentres of recent case growth, have proven resilient. In Arizona, bookings over the next 180 days are at 89% of their 2019 levels. Elsewhere in the Sunbelt, bookings in Texas over the next 180 days are at 91% of their 2019 levels, while in Georgia, Mississippi, and California bookings are at 119%, 114% and 77% of their 2019 levels, respectively.
In Florida, where bookings are at 67% of their 2019 levels, the recovery is slower. Governor DeSantis banned short-term rentals in March, before allowing them again in May. A second ban was announced in Miami Beach in July as Florida’s case growth accelerated.
Some U.S. markets are still struggling. In Hawaii, bookings over the next 180 days are at 52% of their 2019 levels, highlighting how dependent the state’s tourism market is on air travel.
Bookings in large urban areas are underperforming rural areas. Bookings in New York City over the next 180 days are at 44% of their 2019 levels, while neighboring states in the Northeast enjoy faster recoveries. Short-term rental bookings in New Jersey over the next 180 days are at 78% of their 2019 levels, while in Connecticut and Pennsylvania bookings are at 94% and 96% of 2019 levels, respectively.
“Short-term rentals, especially in rural areas, give people looking to get away an accommodation option that allows social distancing,” said Joseph DiTomaso, CEO of AllTheRooms. “We expect short-term rentals to continue to outperform hotels,” he added.
Expedia Group CEO Peter Kern noted a surge in bookings on its vacation rental booking platform Vrbo during an earnings call last Thursday. Rival platform Airbnb stated earlier in July that they plan to resume their IPO plans.