We have been covering the impact that Coronavirus has had on the vacation rental industry since back in early February when we warned about the effect it was having on cancellations across Greater Asia and how we should take note. We’ve also touched on the rapid changes we have seen in our industry on cancellations, reservations and ADRs, as well as shared live data for everyone to benefit from.

Today we want to look at another key metric that has shifted drastically - booking lead times. Nowhere else has seen such a large deviation in average booking lead time as larger cities, which were the first places that travelers shied away from as shelter-in-place mandates were initiated. We took a look at the median booking lead time for reservations before and after March 14th in the largest cities in the United States and around the world.

Most notably, in the United States, the average lead time in most cities has shrunk from 15 days to nearly one day. When we examine global cities, the average has dropped from 20 days to three. Given the high level of uncertainty around changing travel restrictions, most guests are booking trips the day before they leave as to limit the chance of losing their deposit.

While lead times are dropping, the average length of stay has essentially doubled. This increase in length of stay is primarily due to guests looking for places to comfortably shelter-in-place. Property owners are switching to longer term rentals for stability, and with so few reservations with checkins in the short term, the impact to snowbirds and other long term reservations far off are increasing the length of stay.

So what lessons can we learn from this trend? One of the key takeaways is that while bookings have slowed across the board, the booking patterns have changed even more dramatically. To keep up with these trends, we highly suggest owners keep properties clean, tidy and “move in ready” at all times. Expect to have anywhere from one day to hours to turn a listing around, most likely made even more challenging by reduced cleaning and support staff.

Additionally, a non-personal check-in is almost going to be a requirement in this new environment. If you are lucky enough to have keyless entry already in place then you are well equipped to handle this, but if not, then we suggest using lock-boxes and prepared information packets left in convenient spots.

Lastly, being flexible and welcoming to last minute travelers will only increase in importance as this situation continues to unfold. Hopefully knowing and internalizing these lessons as well as other strategies on capturing demand allow you to better ride out the storm.

As always, please feel free to reach out to the Beyond Pricing family for any free market and data insights that can assist you.