We’re all painfully aware of the short term rental reality of the COVID-19 crisis: reservations have taken a colossal hit and property managers have been left searching for ways to build on sparse demand. But what’s happening now? The 7 charts in this article illustrate how the US has progressed; offering some visibility over where North American property managers in different parts of the USA are on this road to recovery, and what we hope is the light at the end of their tunnel.
First, let’s put all this into perspective with our first schematic. Below you can see the shortfall in bookings made for the year so far relative to the same period in 2019, state by state.
With air travel down a reported 96%, it’s unsurprising that the isolated islands of Hawaii have suffered most notably. Whilst they have seen just half of the total vacation rental bookings they took last year, the picture is significantly less bleak with Kansas and Oklahoma at the other end of the scale – down only 3% and 4% respectively. And, while the overall US deficit to 2019 is -29%, when we ran the numbers for the UK, things were considerably worse across the pond with 37% fewer short term rental reservations than 2019.
So what does this shortfall look like through time? Our second graph allows us to see the year on year difference in reservations in the United States week by week.
The first thing to note is that the beginning of the year saw a 76% increase in bookings made relative to last year at its peak in from 13 to 19th January. By week 6 however Trump had announced the first of a series of travel bans, and short term rental reservations fell to +25% YoY and continued to crumble away. By the time more extensive international travel bans were made official in week 11, reservations had fallen to -61%. Domestic travel bans also seemed imminent and with states such as the US vacation rental flagship Florida announcing an embargo on stays, US reservations hit a -87% bottom in week of March 30th.
From week 16 we see the start of inflection, and things have largely moved int he right direction, with a climb to -51% ahead of Memorial Day. So we’re starting to see a tangible recovery across the US – what does this look like when we zoom in, region by region, state by state?
Above we consider those states in the Northeast. This series of charts have been rebased to the week 15 low; showing % change from the low point week by week, with overall US progression indicated in green. From this we are able to highlight and track recovery more easily. The majority of states follow the same pattern, with a spike of VR bookings made in the week leading up to Memorial Day weekend. Further, these Northeastern states largely exceed the whole US performance, with Vermont achieving a huge 803% increase in bookings from the low in week 20, and the rest sitting around +300%.
Next, in our chart focussing on the Midwest above, the picture is slightly less positive, with the week 20 peak across states in the region sitting closer to the whole US change of +270%. Despite this slightly less improved week 22 picture, the Midwest is actually least impacted year to date, with 19% fewer reservations than the saem 2019 period. At week 22, North Dakota was the worst performing in the Midwest, just creeping up to +86% by the end of May; most states did however, like their NE counterparts, surface above the +200% line.
The following chart highlights the progression since inflection in Western States, which, like the Midwest, is more comparable to the progress of the US as a whole. With -33% reservations year to date than last year however, the West is the worst hit region overall. Since the inflection however, Idaho, Montana and Colorado are best recovered currently, and most states have surpassed +200% mark on the cusp of June, with Hawaii languishing behind.
Last of our regions is the South. Below we see a similar story of states following the weekly progression of the nation. 6 of 16 Western states (Tennessee, Oklahoma, District of Colombia, Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky & Virginia), plus Washington D.C., sit under +180% at the end of May. While Mississippi and West Virginia topped +400% reservations made in week 200, again ahead of Memorial Day, slow and steady Delaware was most improved at last count, with just shy of 300% more bookings than its low.
Where Are We Now?
Finally, our seventh and final chart hones in on our final week, which brings us to the start of June. This analysis looks at ‘current’ disparity; how far different states in each region were behind 2019 reservation levels of the same week.
Mississippi, Arkansas and Oklahoma in the South and Kansas alone of other states have clawed their way back to reservations totalling more than half their 2019 achievements. Meanwhile, Alabama and Vermont and Washington, Oregon, Colorado and Hawaii in the West remain in excess of 70% fewer bookings, with Hawaii down at 83%.
With the US as whole securing 64% fewer reservations in week 22 year on year, there is clearly still progress to be made. However, the marked progress is there to see, with chart 2 illustrating the inflection since the beginning of April, and charts 3-6 demonstrating how each state has gained in reservations through the recovery. It is worth remembering that US vacation rentals are significantly less affected than many places around the world, such as Europe. But further that the world of vacation rentals, and the world itself, is seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.
Below you can read our article on Spain’s recovery, or check out the rest of our data-driven articles on the short-term rental industry.
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