Published July 2020
Summer skies are upon us, and while in some ways time feels slower than ever, these coveted days seem to be flying by. Where travelers are headed and how they’re getting there has changed for summer 2020. Hotel occupancy and air travel are down significantly from summers past, while vacation homes and road trips have been on the rise since May.
While we are hopeful for the recovery of the entire travel industry, here are some of the top travel trends we’re seeing this summer—which we expect will stick around well into the fall and holiday seasons.
In April, when most of the country had some sort of lockdown order in effect, we found that our guests were booking well in advance of their intended travel dates, and with good reason. The circumstances at the time forced many to take a “wait and see” approach, which extended our booking window to 142 days at its peak. As regulations started to lift across the country, pent-up demand kicked in and our booking window was reduced to 40–45 days, which is in line with 2019 averages. In addition, guests booked six times as many Vacasa stays in May as in April.
While people are eager to travel, they of course want to do it safely. We've seen a significant increase in Google searches for "vacation home cleaning" and “vacation rental COVID cleaning,” so cleanliness is clearly a top priority among travelers—as is proximity to home. We've also seen a 3–4x spike in searches for "lakefront vacation rentals," demonstrating that travelers are searching for remote destinations and the opportunity to get outside.
Even the proudest jetsetters are opting for car travel this summer, as they limit contact to people in their household or inner circle. But, even those who are taking the open road are limiting miles logged. Looking at past summer travel data compared to summer 2020, the average driving distance is down 19%, or 73 miles, across the U.S. Guests who typically travel just over 400 miles for their summer vacation are scaling back down to around 330 miles.
The July 4 weekend is always one of our busiest, and with most markets reopened for business, 2020 was no exception. Of course, beach and lake excursions are always popular over the holiday weekend, and travelers flocked to the water in droves. We welcomed more than 16,000 guest arrivals during the holiday weekend, with 84% of our homes booked up.
With events, summer camps, and other engagements cancelled, travelers have a bit more flexibility when traveling this summer. Factor in that a good portion of the country is working remotely, and guests are bound to tack on extra time to their trips. The average length of stay is up slightly, with more guests booking four-night stays.
Mask-wearing, social distancing, and limited options for entertainment have transformed summer 2020, but not all is lost. Families have more time to spend together, more people are getting outside and trying something they haven’t before, and those of us who never slow down now have the opportunity to rest. With any hope, it’ll be a summer that we’ll never forget—in a good way.