Tracking the Rebound: New U.S. Bookings Surpass 2019 levels by 20%

Dillon DuBois | June 17, 2020

If you were to have asked an industry expert for their thoughts on the future of vacation rentals in early April, it’s unlikely they’d have predicted the current rebound.

As outlined in last month’s report, vacation rentals in the United States have been making an extremely notable comeback. Three months of unprecedented cancellations and empty calendars have now given way to new bookings and cautious optimism.

Our last report largely focused on recent trends over the last few months — comparing today’s numbers to those during the depths of the crisis. Places like California’s Big Bear Lake, for example, saw over 2,200% growth over a 5-week stretch.

Now that we’re a bit further along the road to recovery, it’s fair to compare today’s landscape to last year’s. No regard for COVID-19 — just a simple year-on-year, apples-to-apples comparison between now and one year prior.

Here’s what we’re seeing.

Southern States Lead Post-COVID Rebound

For this study, we’re analyzing the number of new reservations made between May 17th and June 10th of 2020 and comparing that to the same period of 2019. Note: these are the dates the reservation was actually made, not the check-in date.

As seen by the color distribution, many states are already seeing far more bookings than they did in 2019. Top states seeing most growth include West Virginia, South Dakota, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Wyoming, and Deleware.

On the bottom end of the spectrum, we see states like Illinois (-41%), New York (-32%), Hawaii (-30%), and Massachusetts (-29%) still struggling to reach last year’s levels. 

All in all, U.S. vacation rentals bookings are up 20% year on year. Even given the pandemic and continued lockdowns, it’s clear that guests are booking travel for the remainder of 2020. 

Market-Level Analysis

Seeing as how most cities are writing their own rules for travel protocol, it makes more sense to zoom into the market-level view. Below is an interactive map showing over 500 vacation rental markets in the country. 

For this map, the size of the circle corresponds with the size of the vacation rental market. The color corresponds to the percent difference in new bookings between 2020 and 2019. We’ve filtered out markets that didn’t record at least 1,000 reservations in the 2020 time frame. 

Among those leading the rebound are beaches, mountain towns, lakeside getaways, and really anything within driving distance of a major urban hub. 

Take Spicewood, Texas for example. With just 207 active listings, it’s by no means a vacation rental stomping ground. That said, as it’s just 45 mins from the city of Austin, it’s been a go-to escape for over 1 million people. In the last three weeks, those 207 listings have received over 264% more bookings than they did last year. 

Examples of these little-known destinations can be found all across the country. Use the map’s search bar to find your city and see how it’s faring.

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