The travel review site TripAdvisor released the results of its annual survey this month. After tallying results from over 1,400 travelers who responded, here are 5 key trends that can help us all better prepare for the year ahead.
1. People are falling in love with vacation rentals
In 2010, 33% of respondents had stayed in a vacation rental. A full 40% plan to stay in a vacation rental in 2011. The US vacation rental market, already estimated at $24 billion, is clearly set to expand in the coming year.
2. Elbow room and amenities matter more than price
While travelers love the value vacation rentals offer, they prioritize things like the extra space and convenience of having a kitchen. Specifically, 28% of travelers cite space as the main draw of vacation rentals, compared with 13% who cite the lower cost compared with hotels. Price matters, but it isn’t what matters most.
3. Photos, photos, photos
The biggest determinant of whether someone rents a particular property is the photos. In the survey, 42% of respondents cited photos as the biggest influencer, compared with 27% for traveler reviews, and 13% for price.
4. Internet is king, but friends matter too
A whopping 70% of travelers found their vacation rentals on a vacation rental site; 55% found their rental on a travel site. Word of mouth still counts for a lot, as 25% found their vacation rental through a friend or family member.
5. Opportunity knocks
Perhaps the most poignant finding from the survey is what a large opportunity still awaits this industry. While some savvy travelers have rented vacation homes for decades, out of the 2/3 of travelers who did not stay in a vacation rental last year, 22% said they simply hadn’t thought of it. Another 14% said they felt they had a better idea of what they were getting from hotels. A big opportunity exists for us all to tell travelers about the world that awaits them, once they let vacation rentals unlock the door.
As a little addendum, another trend some Inhabit hosts are noticing is that travelers are booking more during the low season to take advantage of off-season rates. What other trends are you noticing emerge in your business?