August 05, 2020

New Vrbo Data Shows Changing Family Travel Habits Due to COVID-19

Changes in work and school routines affect vacation dates, length of stays and cost

Fresh consumer research and travel data from Vrbo® indicate a new fluidity in how families are vacationing the rest of this year. Call it the rise of the Flexcation, an emerging travel trend where families book vacation rental trips later in August, September and October, consider staying longer to mix work and play, and often get better value in high-demand locales.

Key findings from a nationwide Vrbo survey of families point directly to a Flexcation mindset [1]:

  • 50% of those surveyed agreed that flexible school schedules provide more flexibility in vacationing, while 48% said they can work from anywhere
  • 21% of respondents said that working from anywhere creates big opportunities for travel during the second half of 2020
  • 67% said "I just need a change of scenery" when asked why they might take a family vacation through year-end, suggesting new motivation for getting away apart from traditional seasonal trips
  • Vacation rentals ranked first among types of vacations respondents say they want to take now through December, specifically to "spend time with family and friends (they) haven't seen"
"This summer, we've seen countless families switch to road trips and rent private vacation homes instead of taking traditional vacations. What's interesting is the shift in when people are traveling and how families are blending vacation time with working from home or remote learning," said Vrbo president Jeff Hurst. "Families can use this flexibility as an opportunity to travel outside of peak seasons and try new experiences, like seeing the mountain leaves change, catching the first snow of the season, or visiting the beach when it isn't as hot."

Longer Stays, Uncrowded Destinations, Good Value

Recent Vrbo travel data indicates families want to take longer vacations – interest in one-week and three- or four-week stays have grown relative to the total number of searches, up 25% and 15%, respectively, compared to the same time last year [2].

Flexcationers who wait until later in the season to visit top destinations are also being rewarded with attractive prices. Popular destinations such as Cape Cod, MA; Cape May, NJ; and Ocean City, MD are experiencing both a drop of at least 20% in average nightly rates and fewer crowds for the months of August through October compared to prime summer travel dates [3, 4]. Prices for vacation rentals typically drop during shoulder season, the time period after Labor Day and before the holiday travel season. Families who are not tied to strict in-person school or office commitments can benefit from fewer crowds and lower prices by choosing later travel dates.

Flexibility and Family Vacations: Reestablishing Balance

In addition to allowing families to get away during months they might not traditionally travel, Flexcations also can give them a break and an opportunity to relax. After months of sheltering in place, a change in scenery is an ideal way to reestablish a healthy sense of balance.

According to an NYU study, people feel happier when they have more variety in their daily routines – when they go to novel places and have a wider array of experiences.

"Though this year has been incredibly difficult for families, it's inspiring to see how they have become resilient and resourceful by choosing alternative ways and dates to take vacation," said Lish Kennedy, vice president of brand marketing at Vrbo. "More flexibility in our work and school schedules is allowing families to enjoy a welcome change in their surroundings and a relaxing break together."

Flexcation

[1] Survey of 887 Vrbo travelers in the U.S. in July 2020.

[2] Based on an analysis of searches on Vrbo comparing March 15-July 20, 2019 and March 15, 2020-July 20, 2020.

[3] Based on an analysis of average nightly rates for Vrbo vacation rentals comparing Aug. 24-Oct. 21, 2020 and Jun.1-Aug. 23, 2020.

[4] Based on an analysis of Vrbo vacation rental demand comparing August 24-October 31, 2019 and August 24-October 31, 2020.


Copyright 2020 Vrbo, an Expedia Group company. All rights reserved. From https://vrbo.com.

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