Don’t Look Now, but Vacation Rental Prices are Surging

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Ah, travel. The great payoff after months and months of hard work and saving. Except for last year, when the pandemic kept us all inside and off the road for the first time.

Consider that dam broken.

With vaccine rates rising and Covid cases falling off, travel is back in a big way. And the results are pretty predictable: rental agencies in Hawaii and other hot spots are running out of cars, plane tickets are selling out and vacation rentals are suddenly impossible to book, no matter where you want to go.

It’s 2021, and it’s the summer that travel came back.

By the numbers: According to a recent survey by travel  company, Harvest Hosts, 76% of Americans are planning to travel more this year than they did in 2020, and 60% are going to do more than they even did in 2019. Yolo, right?

Barely 1 in 4 are going to travel “a normal amount” and only 2% said they don’t plan to travel at all this year.

Overall, 40% of Americans are expected to take at least one leisure trip between Memorial Day and the end of September compared with 42% in 2019, according to an April survey of more than 2,000 people by Deloitte Insights.

Costs are rising: As a result of all this demand, the average U.S. hotel room rate rose to $110.34 in April, up 51% year-over-year, according to hotel industry data firm STR. 

And that’s just hotels. Rates for short-term rentals like Airbnbs are also spiking beyond pre-pandemic levels, with the average U.S. short-term rental stay in May costing 21% more than it did in 2019 at just over $244.

What the experts are seeing: “Hosts have paid attention to the travel boom for this summer and set their prices for their vacation homes accordingly. Pent-up demand, vaccinations and the desire to reunite with loved ones motivated families to book as early as February, and many of Vrbo’s most-popular destinations were scooped up quickly.” — Alison Kwong, VRBO spokesperson

What does all this mean? You’d better go ahead and book something now if you want to get out of town at all this year.

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