When planning a trip, you want to get a great deal. However, you also want your accommodations to be comfortable and include the necessary amenities. That may be why people are forgoing vacation rentals in favor of hotels.
With a rise in bookings for traditional lodging, vacation rentals are more affordable than ever before.
Vacation rental prices are dropping
During the pandemic, vacation rental homes on Airbnb and Vrbo became more desirable than ever, as it meant not sharing a building with total strangers and their unknown germs. In fact, during April 2020, four in five hotel rooms were available, while vacation rental demand increased, according to hotel and rental data analyzed by Trips to Discover. (Rental demand continued to rise well into summer 2021.)
But ever since June 2022, hotels have been booked more often than rentals, Trips to Discover reported. In April 2023, hotels had an occupancy rate of about 64% compared to a 59% occupancy rate for vacation rentals.
As vacation rental bookings have waned, their prices have dropped accordingly. For the first time since early 2020, one-bedroom and studio vacation rental prices have dropped to an average price of $148 per night in the United States. While it's barely lower than the average price for a hotel room ($151 per night), it's still a notable drop from the highs of previous years that made hotels the more budget-friendly option. The average daily price of vacation rentals in June 2020 was $202.50, according to Hotel Tech Report.
Why vacation rentals are so affordable
But why are fewer people booking vacation rentals? While rental homes usually offer more space and privacy, there have been reports of Airbnb fatigue. According to November 2022 reporting in The Washington Post, travelers are unhappy with hidden fees (such as when an affordable listing comes with exorbitant cleaning costs) and strict rules. People booking vacation rentals also want more amenities similar to what you'd find in a hotel.
Traditional hotels are certainly winning people back over with luxuries like room service, pools and fitness facilities. Sometimes a free continental breakfast is more appealing than having a full kitchen.
How to score a deal on a vacation rental
No, vacation rentals are not the same as hotels, but that doesn't mean they're not an incredible option for a trip — especially if you're considering booking with a group. Not only does splitting the total cost make a vacation rental more affordable, it's much easer to have a group vacation if everyone's in one shared space rather than shuttling between hotels.
Whatever you do, book soon. While this trend of falling vacation rental prices could continue, as the past few years have shown, you never know when external factors will change the travel landscape.
Becca van Sambeck is a writer and editor with experience in many fields, including travel, entertainment, business, education, and lifestyle. Her work has appeared in outlets like NBC, Oxygen, Bravo, the University of Southern California, Elite Daily, CafeMom, Travel For Teens, and more. She currently resides in New York City.
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