Vacation Rentals Growing in Popularity Among Travelers Looking for Better Value
New HomeAway Report Reveals Travelers Choosing Vacation Rentals for
More Family Vacations, Weekend Getaways and Even Business Trips


 

Story Highlights:

  • Travelers are considering vacation rentals for everything from weekend getaways (65 percent) to  business trips (20 percent)
  • 66 percent of vacation rental property owners have offered special deals this year
  • One in five owners new to the vacation rental market cited economic conditions as the reason why they started renting out their vacation home

AUSTIN, TX, May 21, 2009 — Vacation rental homes and condominiums are becoming even more attractive to consumers looking for greater value from their travel dollar, according to HomeAway – the world’s leading online vacation rental marketplace – which today released the first edition of its new quarterly “HomeAway Vacation Rental Marketplace Report.”
 
According to the report, approximately 66 percent of vacation rental property owners are offering or have offered special deals or incentives at some point this year in response to the current economic climate.

  • 27% discount rental rates by a specific dollar amount
  • 24% offer a set percent off the normal rental rate
  • 16% offer a free night with the purchase of a specific number of nights
  • 15% offer free cleaning services
  • 11% do not require a minimum stay
  • 7% offer a complimentary product or service, such as tickets to a local attraction

While travelers may come across some unique deals this summer including pre-arrival grocery shopping services and complimentary meals or gift baskets upon arrival, 34 percent of owners surveyed did not offer special deals or incentives. By way of explanation, one of those owners said, “I didn’t offer anything but a great house, in a great location, at a very reasonable price.”

“With or without deals or special offers, there is an underlying value to vacation rentals,” said Mike Butler, chief commercial officer of HomeAway. “Vacation rental homes enable you to rent a whole home for less than the cost of a hotel room and then even stretch your travel budget further by taking advantage of the full kitchens and extra amenities.”

More Value Means Longer, More Upscale Vacations

While vacation rentals are often considered for and associated with week-long trips, the HomeAway report found that travelers are using vacation rentals for everything from weekend getaways (38 percent) to multi-week vacations (21 percent). Family and group vacations continue to account for the most popular use of vacation rentals, but travelers are also considering staying in vacation properties for a range of travel, including trips typically associated with shorter stays, such as festivals, sporting events and business trips.

The report found that one in five (20 percent) property owners surveyed said over the past 12 months they have rented out their home more frequently for shorter stays lasting two to four days.

In addition to flexible lengths of stays, travelers agree that the use of vacation rentals instead of hotels allows them to enjoy a range of value-related benefits. In fact, nearly 74 percent said they are able to travel with more friends and family. Fifty percent said vacation rentals allow them to take longer vacations; 49 percent said they can take more upscale vacations; and 35 percent said vacation rentals allow them to travel more frequently.

Seeking Sunshine in Warm Weather Destinations

During the first quarter of 2009, Americans were seeking vacation rentals in primarily warm-weather destinations, according to the HomeAway report. Six out of the top 10 destinations that received the most inquiries by travelers were located in Florida. However, HomeAway found that New York was the second most-popular destination during that time period.

“While New York has not typically been associated with vacation rental homes, its ranking does reflect a strong trend we’re seeing in travelers seeking out vacation rentals as a value alternative to hotels in large cities,” Butler said.

Fastest-Growing Destinations Among Travelers


Travelers also sought out vacation rental homes in ski, city and other destinations between January and March 2009, according to the report. Washington, D.C., which played host to the presidential inauguration in January, and the Arlington, Va., area – just outside Washington – saw property inquiries jump 140 percent and nearly 470 percent, respectively, compared to the same time last year.

With the increased value of the dollar and a more favorable exchange rate, American travelers were also looking abroad during the first quarter of the year. According to the HomeAway report, the number of inquiries for European vacation rental properties originating from the United States increased by 58 percent, compared to the same time period last year. Paris, London, Rome, Amsterdam and Barcelona were the most-searched European cities on HomeAway.com.

Where to Get More Bang for Your Buck

Whether traveling as a couple or with multiple families, vacation rentals provide extra room to relax and unwind for less money when compared with traditional hotel accommodations. Of the cities analyzed in the HomeAway report, Phoenix vacation rentals offered the greatest bargain, with travelers paying, on average, four times less the daily rate per square foot than at a hotel.

Some of the best values can be found in the following markets:

Looking to a Vacation Home for Extra Income

While a vacation rental affords travelers many benefits, it can also provide a steady stream of revenue for the owners. In fact, Butler said more and more owners are renting out their properties to generate extra income. The HomeAway report found that the economy played an important role among owners who began to rent their vacation homes to travelers in the past 12 months.

One in five owners (21 percent) new to the vacation rental market cited economic conditions, including the need to generate additional income, a recent job loss, the inability to sell the home or the risk of foreclosure, as the reason why they started renting out their vacation home. In addition to citing economic conditions as a factor, many owners new to renting their vacation homes are entering the market to generate a profit.

“The research suggests that in the past, many second home owners entered the rental market with a desire to cover all their expenses, but now listing their properties to cover expenses is an economic necessity,” said Butler.

Best Bets for Renting Out a Vacation Home

For people who may be looking at vacation homes as a source of income, the HomeAway Vacation Rental Marketplace Report identified the top markets where consumer demand significantly exceeds current inventory levels. The top 10 underserved markets during the first quarter of 2009:

1. South Miami Beach, Fla.
2. Seaside Heights, N.J.
3. Dauphin Island, Ala.
4. Mount Pocono, Pa.
5. New York, N.Y.
6. Hampton Beach, N.H.
7. Ocean City, Md.
8. Hollywood Beach, Fla.
9. Holmes Beach, Fla.
10. Sunny Isle, Fla.

To view the complete HomeAway Vacation Rental Marketplace Report, click here .

About the HomeAway Vacation Rental Marketplace Report :
Data for the HomeAway Vacation Rental Marketplace report was collected via surveys that poll travelers and homeowners on vacation rental-related issues. Based on HomeAway, Inc. internal customer satisfaction research, traveler results are based on 2,133 responses collected between April 30 and May 7, 2009. Owner results are based on 257 responses between April 28 and May 10, 2009. Market trends were based on a combination of in-depth research of supplier and consumer markets from the HomeAway, Inc. database. Smith Travel Research was also utilized for hotel data about specific markets. Average daily rates for HomeAway vacation rentals were measured on a random sampling of properties for each respective city.


For information contact:
Eileen Buesing
Director of Global Public Relations
HomeAway, Inc.
Office- 512-493-0375
ebuesing@homeaway.com