The short-term rental market has fared better than most segments of travel during the pandemic, although it has faced a different set of challenges.
Research from Hostfully reveals that only 6% of hosts and managers want to make COVID-19 disappear if given the opportunity to wave a wand over various challenges in 2020.
In fact, technology was highlighted by 30% of property managers as the biggest challenge, followed by turnover and cleaning by 18% and marketing (14%).
The latter two are likely to be a result of the pandemic, with turnover and cleaning becoming a huge focus for the travel industry overall in 2020 due to the virus.
The focus on marketing is interesting in the context of the trend towards acquiring more direct bookings and the need to find ways to attract those customers.
The Hostfully 2020 Hospitality Trends report says the direct booking trend is likely to continue beyond this year with the “cancellation wave” of 2020 driving hosts and managers to shift their reliance away from listing sites and online travel agents.
In 2019, 19% of reservations were direct bookings rising to 25% in 2020 and 24% of respondents saying they prioritized direct booking strategies in response to the virus.
How this plays out in 2021 will be interesting to observe given the growth ambitions of online travel giants including Booking.com, Airbnb and Vrbo.
The report also breaks down the technology challenges that hosts and managers most want to get rid of with 18% highlighting centralization, 18% automation and 15% pricing.
However, the majority of those wishing to make centralization and automation challenges disappear did not have a property management system or a paid-for channel management system.
While property management systems themselves were highlighted as big main challenge in 2019, those without them were presented with other hurdles to overcome.
Despite the challenges presented by the pandemic and the expected loss of income in 2020, according to 55% of respondents, hosts and managers are optimistic about future growth.
How they will achieve that growth has shifted to more of reliance on sweating existing assets than growing their portfolios however.
Most now say the strategy is to “optimize current revenue streams” by increasing occupancy, working on pricing and upselling to guests.
The Hostfully report is available to download here.
The short-term outlook for vacation rentals in Europe does not look good with many countries going back into strict lockdowns.
However, the U.S. segment may fare better with figures from Guesty showing a continued increase in bookings.
The company said the uptick is related to the good news around vaccines with the U.S. likely to get near to 2019 reservation volume.