Accommodating the pandemic: 2022 hotel and vacation rental forecast

As the pandemic response continues, it’s still affecting the hotel and rental industries. Travel and hospitality companies have been tremendously shaken by the ups and downs of measures taken against COVID-19. Each breaking news story carries the potential for more of the public to decide they aren’t comfortable with traveling.

We are finishing our second year of Covid. By some accounts, there’s also going to be a third year, leading to continued uncertainty in the travel sector. As such, we polled 1000 people across the United States to take the pulse of the industry. The questions in this survey focus mainly on respondents’ impressions and experiences regarding travel accommodations. The resulting information offers critical insights into what hotels and rental services should expect in 2022.

While the industry is ever-changing, the below can provide a window into where things are right now.

How guests are booking?

We focused on those who had traveled in the past year or planned to travel again in the next year. As a result, this group represents a solid pool of potential customers, and there’s quite a bit of insight to glean from the results. 

Among our discoveries were the following:

  • 65% of folks plan to book a stay with a hotel or rental service in the next year.
  • Those who responded chose the following rental services as ones they have used:
    • 8% Tripping.com
    • 10% Homestay.com
    • 32% Vrbo
    • 72% Airbnb

If these numbers indicate the future of the rental services industry, some areas should inspire hope. The harm done to the traveling industry by the pandemic is immense. That said, a solid amount of people (65%) are planning to stay somewhere this year, which appears to show a movement back to normality.

While Airbnb still holds a large share of the homestay market, others are inching forward. More options and opportunities seem to be opening up in the market every day.

What are their concerns?

Let’s shift focus to travelers’ preferences—specifically, the areas of concern that cause travelers to choose either a rental service or a hotel. Our data shows that the favorability of hotels over rental services could be growing.

Of those polled, 33% of business travelers signaled they prefer a traditional hotel over vacation and rental services. Compared to 45% of respondents responding similarly. The reasons they claimed for this preference were:

  • 58% Less risk 
  • 42% Affordability 
  • 41% Amenities 

For comparison, only 9% of respondents and 24% of business travelers preferred a rental service. The reasons they stated for this were:

  • 61% Better deals
  • 54% Variety
  • 42% Amenities

These numbers seem to signal trends are moving towards traditional hotels. The majority of those who responded said they were more interested in conventional hotels. That said, there are still some benefits to rental services that are inescapable.

While the two operate on adversarial levels, a future involving both seems ever more likely. While renters generally find hotels safer, homestays offer a way to rent in remote and unique areas. It doesn’t seem as though one or the other will win out and wipe the other out of the market.

That said, in areas where hotels are abundant, it does seem as though they are also preferred.

How will Covid impact 2022?

No element of our society remains untouched by Covid. The pandemic’s vast impact on tourism, travel, and hospitality is without question. As we round out our second year dealing with the virus, what are some takeaways for hospitality services?

Some things communicated from those polled include:

  • 26% said the pandemic did not affect their travel plans.
  • 35% said they are slightly less willing to travel.

It seems that the desire to travel is returning. And while many hotels and rental options offer robust, transparent cleaning services that bring peace of mind, one clear takeaway for the hospitality industry is to make it clear that you’re disinfecting with diligence.

74% of those less likely to travel said they desired a clear posting of cleaning guidelines. Cleanliness has always been a significant factor in hospitality, and depending on the number, the scores a hotel receives on its cleanliness can often drive hefty bonuses or the termination of positions.

Now that the pandemic has placed more pressure on cleanliness, its importance is higher than ever. The same group of those less likely to travel also said they would prefer a discount in the event of a positive test (65%.) This is a consideration that both hotels and rental companies could take into account.

Other takeaways from covid-related polling include:

  • Travelers find Airbnb more trustworthy than Vrbo, voting 65% and 45%, respectively. This trustworthiness is a huger barrier, and trust in rental services is much lower among Americans who have not traveled recently.
  • 50% of those still traveling indicated they believe flexible scheduling makes traveling during COVID-19 easier.
  • 43% of those not traveling said that helpful customer support eases pandemic-related travel changes.

There are a lot of takeaways from these stats. In 2022, it seems that more and more people will find themselves willing to travel, there’s still hope for the hospitality industry. And those who are not willing are often open to changing their minds with a few considerations.

Homestays

We also collected some information regarding homestays—asking questions to those who had booked a stay with Airbnb, we found that:

  • 91% had a satisfactory experience.
  • 92% said they plan on booking again in the future.
  • 54% of them had a better opinion of Airbnb after hearing their recent refugee announcement that Airbnb would provide temporary housing for 20,000 Afghan refugees.

This positive opinion shows that the general likability of Airbnb is still quite high. Additionally, it proves that their philanthropic effort has paid off in public opinion. 

Participants who had recently used Vrbo answered questions as well. Here’s what we found:

  • 96% plan on booking again in the future.
  • 90% said they had a satisfactory experience.
  • 45% stated they would be more likely to book with the service if hotel rooms were also offered through the app.

A la Carte

Let’s end by talking about a new trend in the industry. Some hotel groups are now offering hotel pricing a la carte. With this new model, specific amenities are only provided if guests request them and come with a charge. This model provides a lot of strategic advantages for hotels and guests alike. 

While hotels that offer a la carte pricing can win out by either saving money on products or additional fees throughout a stay, it’s a win for customers as well—especially those who may not use the usual amenities anyway. This piecemeal offering allows guests to bring their amenities from home (like soap and shampoo) in exchange for a lower price for their stay.

More and more homestay options aren’t offering amenities at all, so the public may feel less accustomed to always having the typical necessities provided. This change in expectation offers a potential window of opportunity for hoteliers in the here and now.

But how does this make travelers feel?

  • 49.5% stated they are okay with a la carte pricing options.
  • 40% said it doesn’t make a difference at all.
  • 22% said they would be less likely to book.

How can we help?

Want to check out the survey in its entirety? Looking to do a survey of your own? At aytm, we empower organizations to own their insights, explore their data, and discover developing trends that help drive powerful decisions for your business. Schedule a demo with us today to get started!