Our mission at Transparent is to empower the vacation rental industry with the information needed to make the most effective decisions. At a time with so much uncertainty and opacity, that is even more crucial. We feel a responsibility to keep our industry in the know, and so we have developed an impact tracking centre for covid-19.
The tracker includes up to date information on cases and travel bans, and data on the demand and occupancy ramifications across the world. It also houses resources to help short term rental property managers to mitigate and manage through this pandemic.
Timeline of Events
The outbreak of the virus, which began in Wuhan, China, has left hundreds of thousands sickened and global deaths mounting. Officials have declared it a global pandemic, as at the time of writing, there are around 350,000 cases worldwide – nearly quarter of a million of them active.
Here is a timeline of events with a focus on those that we found relevant for the hospitality industry. We will continue to update this timeline throughout the crisis.
Impact on OTAs
OTA stock prices have plunged following the escalation of the crisis.
In total, by of 13th March, this already represented a total reduction of $ 41Bn in market capitalization.
Impact on Global Demand
Transparent estimates here the paid occupancy of global short term rental stock. In this chart, the occupancy represents the percentage of properties booked for a given day within the entire home category, excluding hotel rooms.
This chart shows the difference in occupancy from one year to another. Since January as one can expect, the occupancy drop has accelerated significantly in all short term rental globally.
Unsurprisingly, China has shown the steepest decrease in occupancy for the first quarter of 2020. Even though January and February were relatively stable for most countries, March shows the severity of the situation with most affected countries showing significant occupancy drops. It is expected that these drops in demand accelerate over the up and coming weeks.
As expected, all across major European markets we can observe a high level of cancellations for the month of March.
As a consequence of this wave of cancellations, rates have slowly dropped for the month of March.
US markets had experienced much less of an impact than European ones. However, due to the latest developments in the situation, a similar wave of cancellations is to be expected in majorly affected markets.
Cancellation Policy Overview
Transparent estimates that 39% of Airbnb’s listings had flexible cancelation policies prior to the Coronavirus crisis and expects this share to increase as travellers will be looking for flexibility in this situation of high uncertainty on the length of the travel restrictions. Airbnb currently recommends to facilitate easier cancellation policies.
Airbnb has adapted its policy to help travellers from and to heavily affected areas cancel at no cost. Last update: March 13th 2020.
Impact on Global Supply
Current impact of the crisis on supply remains low. Hosts and managers have not significantly deleted their listings in February and YoY growth remains strong, even in China where Airbnb for instance had grown their inventory substantially prior to the crisis.
If you look at the “exposed” inventory, 6 of the top 10 short-term rental countries in the world form part of the most affected countries by the virus already. There is likely to be a significant impact at global level as we approach high season in many of them.
Resources for Property Managers
Rentals United, 10/03/2020:
Coronavirus cancellations are impacting the vacation rental industry. Here’s what property managers can do to improve their distribution amid the crisis.
When it comes to your business, now is the time to remain agile and plan ahead to mitigate the challenges that come with any widespread health scare, like coronavirus.
Holland & Knight, 12/03/2020:
Commercial real estate owners and property managers should monitor and address concerns impacting the industry because of the coronavirus (COVID-19).
We’ve put together a list of coronavirus resources. Get travel advisories and info from global governmental and health authorities.
Coronavirus and flexible travel: Here’s what you can do right now to keep hosting on Airbnb, plus a few ways we’re helping.
Property Manager Strategy Interviews
In a further effort to keep the conversation flowing between property managers managing this situation, we have interviewed a couple of PMs in different scenarios. Below we hear from those property managers from the vacation rental industry talking us through their experiences of this pandemic and anything that can be done to mitigate the impact.
Above, our first interview with Roberto of Altido, who is based in the original European epicentre of Milan, Italy.
Below, our second interview is with Melissa of Big Bear Vacations, which operates in a more leisure/rural market 3 hours out of Los Angeles in the US.
The most affected countries are setting up bans around events. In this map you can see the severity of these bans from a 0 to 3 scale, 3 being total shut down.
We will keep updating this chart as the situation evolves.
First Opportunity: Domestic Travel
As the situation progresses, we expect that domestic travel will offer the first respite for vacation rentals. Certain nations are better placed to retain occupancy as international travel bans become biggest factor in reduced demand.
These 10 pie charts below represent the 10 countries with the highest proportion of domestic travellers. China, the US and Brazil look to be placed most favourably to maintain or regain booking traction through international travel bans.
Coronavirus Case Evaluation
This chart shows the live, macro evolution of the situation. Numbers reported are expected to be much lower than reality given the fact that not everybody is tested.
What We’ve Learned
In conclusion, a lot has changed since the beginning of this global pandemic. We have seen hundreds of thousands of cases, government shutdowns, event, travel and social bans. Within the industry, we have seen OTA stock prices plunge, high levels of cancellations, a massive occupancy drop year on year, changes in Airbnb’s cancellation policies, and very little impact on supply. In such changeable circumstances, it helps to keep up to date, so we’re offering completely free access to this information here:
We’re working on moulding our data into charts and graphics to help all players within the short term rental industry navigate through this situation. If you have any queries or ideas or want to feature our data, please get in touch through the button below: