As vaccination programs roll out in many countries, we finally see positive signs of travel returning. To help you maximize your property’s success this summer, Booking.com created a data-backed guide exploring key traveller behaviours we see right now – and how you can use this data to attract demand.
To help you a bit more, we boosted Booking.com’s data with a few other tidbits. In this article, you’ll learn about current search patterns, how the pandemic has affected stay lengths, why flexibility is still so important and much more. Leverage these and the rest of our traveller insights to make the most of the late-summer season.
Search interest for vacation rentals is still strong
According to Booking.com, there was strong search interest for domestic travel this year. In fact, searches on the Booking.com platform show that we’re back in line with the percentages we saw at this time in 2019. And that’s when almost no one could travel. It’s now as important as ever to optimize your availability to capture this demand.
Validating Booking.com’s data is search interest for vacation rentals writ-large. Looking at Google searches for vacation and short-term rentals during the last year, we see that pent up travel demand still hasn’t subsided. And that’s despite kids returning to school in most areas:
90% of travelers are booking flexible rates
Can you believe that 18 months into the pandemic, travel uncertainty is still on your guest’s minds? According to Booking.com. 90% of travelers booked flexible rates this summer. That’s a huge consideration vacation rental managers have to work into their marketing strategies. If you’re not offering this option, you might be missing out on a huge chunk of bookings.
That said, despite the Delta-variant running amock, we haven’t seen it affect cancelation rates. Looking at reservation data flowing through the Hostfully platform over the last 6 months, cancelation rates seem to be staying within normal ranges:
So that begs the question: should you open up your cancelation policy and attract more guests? Or should you keep it locked down in case the Delta-variant causes a new cancelation wave? Each vacation rental business will respond to risk differently. However, if you’re struggling with short-term bookings, it might be worth being flexible on cancelation.
Guests appear to be planning to stay longer
Booking.com observed a higher proportion of summer bookings for seven days or more than they did for the same point in 2019. But that was for the summer. What about the coming post-summer lull? Interestingly, our data suggest that, indeed, reservations are longer. Across the listing sites and OTAs, we’re seeing that the average length of stay for reservations made through the Hostfully PMP is indeed longer than it was last year.
Booking.com has a few tips to help capture long-stay guests. One strategy is to set up long-stay rate plans specifically designed to attract lucrative stays of a week or longer. Note that extended stays offer the extra possibility of upsells while the guests are in the rental. Mid-stay cleaning and grocery delivery are quick and easy ways to boost your properties’ income potential with this type of reservation.
Health and safety measures matter to guests
So here’s an impressive stat. Booking.com found that hosts and managers saw an 11% boost in bookings by displaying or stating their health and safety measures. And that’s for extra cleaning measures most hosts and managers were doing anyways.
If that wasn’t enough to convince you to give those old listing descriptions a quick refresh, Booking.com has another stat for you. 70% of travelers said they’re more likely to book a property if it’s clear what health and safety measures are in place.
Loyalty programs are swaying guests
This stat is for hosts and managers who list on Booking.com – but it might convince those not on the platform to sign on. Property managers who signed on to the Genius program have seen 29% more bookings since we expanded membership.
For those new to Booking.com, Genius is a pretty straightforward marketing program designed to give its participants more exposure on the platform. Genius partners get an automatic ranking boost and visibility on the platform as well as other perks. Booking.com claims that on average, those who join Genius increase their bookings by 29%. On the other hand, revenue jumped by 24%, with the cost of the guest discount accounted for.