Record levels for rental bookings but current revenues way down

New bookings in the United States for vacation rentals were at record levels in January, according to data from AirDNA.

The analytics and trends service for short-term rentals found that pent-up demand for trips among travelers is fast becoming a reality, with January’s figure some 22% higher than last June when a similar eagerness to get on the road kicked in after the first wave of stay-at-home guidance.

Bookings are largely following the trend of avoiding properties in large cities, AirDNA says, as travelers opt for coastal and mountain destinations for their trips.

In particular, Florida’s traditional spring break market is seeing occupancy levels of more than 50% for March 2021.

Despite the significant uptick in bookings in January of this year, AirDNA says revenue gained by property owners was down over a quarter (27%) year-over-year.

The figure is the steepest drop in demand since April of last year, as the effect of the pandemic slammed the industry and demand sank by 32%.

There are some key destinations that have bucked the trend, such as non-city destinations in California, New York and Tennessee, AirDNA says.

It adds: “Occupancy averaged just 45.6% in January, down slightly from a year before. Coastal markets like Cape Cod and Myrtle Beach along with beach markets along the Florida Panhandle all recorded occupancy below 30% in January. While usually low in January, demand for STRs [short-term rentals] was about 40% below 2020 levels.

“Weaker demand in January also translated to lower average daily rate (ADR) growth, up just 5.3%, which was the lowest increase since May of 2020. Small and mid-sized markets made up for softer (ADR) growth across the rest of the country, increasing by an average of 17% and 15%, respectively.”

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