By Noah Rothstein
Vacation-rental sites, such as Airbnb, Expedia, and Vrbo, are trying to persuade owners to list their homes as rental properties as the companies are dealing with supply shortages in some locations.
Places like national parks and beaches have become extremely popular destinations as of late. Even destinations like Panama City, FL and Hilton Head Island, SC were already booked at 80% for the summer in April. With this surge in tourism, the demand for lodging and vacation rentals has increased dramatically.
Airbnb incentivizes homeowners to become hosts by offering referral payments to those who can get others to list properties on the site. The company also added more than 100 upgrades to its platform, including features for one-on-one mentoring on hosting.
The Fast Start program launched by Vrbo in March allows hosts who have Airbnb experience to transfer their ratings to Vrbo. This program has proven successful so far, and Vrbo said it acquired thousands of hosts.
Because of the significant increase in customers, the companies announced they’re developing the Community Integrity Program. The companies will share information on removed listings and strengthen action against repeat offenders who book rentals to throw parties.
Many professional property managers already cross-list their units on Airbnb and Vrbo, according to Jamie Lane, Vice President of Research at analytics firm AirDNA. Airbnb has many independent owners, while Vrbo hosts are mainly in destination and resort markets. Vrbo hosts typically hire professional managers to rent out second homes or investment properties, Mr. Lane added.
“They’re absolutely competing for listings with each other,” Mr. Lane said of Airbnb and Vrbo.
More flexible work arrangements due to the pandemic resulted in guests staying longer and traveling further than before the pandemic.
Occupancy for U.S. short-term rentals reached 61.6% in April, the highest level for that month in industry history, according to AirDNA. There were 67% more listing nights sold in small cities and rural areas in April than the same month two years ago, AirDNA said.
This travel trend also caused a surge in demand for hotels, which has prompted some to limit occupancy due to labor shortages.
With tourism in cities on the rebound, hotels are increasingly looking like a better deal for many renters. Hotels do not usually charge many of the fees rental hosts typically do, said Robert Mollins, lead Internet and Lodging Analyst at Gordon Haskett Research Advisors.