Top Five Vacation Rental Trends in 2020 and the Outlook for 2021

by Kent Kimes for Garden City Realty

Although full recovery to pre-pandemic levels is not expected in 2021, positive trends that developed in 2020 give Garden City Realty’s (GCR) Owner Services team supreme confidence that vacation homeowners will experience a resilient market this year that allows them continued success in providing compelling guest journeys at their South Strand properties.

While much has changed in our world, the urge for U.S. families to get away from the daily grind remains the same. In other words – who doesn’t need a vacation?

Here are GCR’s five top takeaways from 2020 vacation rental trends and the impact on 2021:

Flexible stay dates

With the shift to virtual school and telecommuting brought on by the pandemic, the upside is outside of the traditional holidays, spring breaks and summer vacations, families now have more flexibility on when they can book work/play getaways – as long as the accommodations have hi-speed Internet connections. It has been dubbed the Flexcation, and according to the most recent VRBO Trend Report, 38 percent of respondents who took a Flexcation would do so again.

The GCR Advantage: Even before the pandemic, GCR began offering stays shorter than our competitors’ traditional weekly, Saturday-to-Saturday booking plans. Guests can now plan stays with a two-night minimum, perfect for a Flexcation.

Drive-to markets

The Grand Strand has always been a drive-to market, and with continued restrictions on air travel and social distancing still recommended, road trips will remain popular this year as 59 percent of families intend to drive to their vacation destinations. And with 60 miles of gorgeous coastline and two pristine S.C. State Parks along the Grand Strand, families that love the outdoors will again have plenty of picturesque seaside settings to explore.

The GCR Advantage: In 2020, the top 10 states for our online reservations were, in order: South Carolina, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Georgia, Tennessee, Maryland, West Virginia, and New York. When the pandemic hit, we reallocated our spending to specifically target these drive-to markets.

Vacation rentals vs. hotels

In 2020, vacation rentals bounced back quicker than the hard-hit hotel/motel sector.  “Vacation rentals are well outpacing hotels on the pandemic recovery front as COVID-era travelers seek out accommodations better equipped for longer leisure stays and social isolation,” according to a September article in Travel Weekly. And the good news for homeowners, this trend is expected to continue throughout 2021.

The GCR Advantage: It is all about comfort, amenities, and space. With our properties designed for families only, GCR reinforced its messaging surrounding the various features that set vacation rentals apart from cookie-cutter hotels. Creating a home away from home, which comforts travelers during these uncertain times, GCR’s vacation rentals allow dining in, away from the crowds, with private kitchens fully stocked with cooking equipment.

Longer stays

Similar to the Flexcation, travelers in 2020 also booked longer stays because of the same factors: working remotely, schools operating virtually – why not stay for an extended period?

The GCR Advantage: In addition to the traditional monthly rental stays (snowbirds), in 2020 we worked with homeowners in our program to offer long-term rentals which are now available:

COVID protocols

Health and safety are still top of mind as families travel and venture away from home and that trend will continue.

The GCR Advantage: Our housekeeping staff uses EPA-approved disinfectants on high-touch areas, including light switches, doorknobs, TV remotes, etc., and we have added steps to the cleaning process within all our operations facilities and facilities.  For more, got to

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