Everything moves in trends, and travel is no exception. Where people go, how they get there, what they do, and where they stay are all impacted by factors like technology, socio-political environments, and the evolution of the tourism industry. If you're a vacation rental host, it helps to keep a finger on the pulse of all the latest travel trends and vacation rental trends so you can better cater to your audience.
To help sum things up, we've put together a list of 9 of the biggest current and predicted trends for 2018.
1. When it comes to accommodation, weird is good.
Who wants to stay in a regular house when there are so many more interesting options? According to a report from HomeAway
, bookings for barns grew nearly 55% last year. Yes, barns
. Houseboats and treehouses were next on the increasingly-coveted list.
Meanwhile, Airbnb was finding a similar trend. They say
that bookings for nature lodges have boomed by over 700%, while bookings for ryokans (a type of traditional Japanese inn), yurts (nomadic tent dwellings) and recreational vehicles have also increased dramatically.
The takeaway? If you have any kind of unusual or quirky structure in your backyard, now's the time to put it on the vacation rental market.
2. Pets are exploring the world.
According to HomeAway's latest reports, 31% of travellers want to take their pet on vacation with them. This presents a big opportunity for vacation rental hosts who have pet-friendly dwellings. Vacation rentals tend to offer more space and flexibility for pets than hotels, hence why so many travellers are turning to home-sharing platforms when searching for pet-friendly accommodation.
3. Travellers want to accommodate dietary preferences.
Six in ten households have at least one dietary restriction, says research from HomeAway, which is why travellers appreciate renting a space with access to a kitchen. Some of this comes down to allergies and food sensitivities; for others it's a matter of choice. Elle Magazine reports
that "veggie travellers are wanting to suit their holiday needs to their dietary requirements" and notes that some people actively choose their destinations based on how vegetarian or vegan-friendly they are.
4. Sustainable travel is increasingly important.
"Increasingly tourists are seeing responsible tourism – working with local people around their culture and ways of life – as a more authentic way to travel," says
Justin Francis, CEO of the company Responsible Travel. "Doing the right thing leads to a more enjoyable experience."
This is a sentiment reflected in many trend forecasts and travel reports. A 2017 survey
by TUI Group found that one in ten European holidaymakers book eco-friendly hotels. But despite the growing interest, travellers are still confused about how
to travel sustainably and how much of the responsibility falls on them. The same survey found that 66% of travellers believe the travel industry should be responsible for sustainability, rather than the consumer.
For vacation rental hosts, there's a strong incentive to make your vacation rental eco-friendly
and sustainable to tap into this continuing trend.
5. Travelling as a learning experience is booming.
"Learning a new skill abroad is gaining momentum," says
Kate Kenward, executive director of AITO (Association of Independent Tour Operators) . "I think we’ll see increases in expert-led study tours, gastronomy and wine tasting."
This ties in with the ongoing trend of experiential travel: the philosophy that travelling can be so much more than just seeing sights, it can renew and transform. Offering experiences or partnering with local workshops and classes can be a great way to turn accommodation into a broader travel experience.
6. Political events won't hold travellers back.
In a survey by Contiki, 63 per cent of millennials indicated that travel shaped their perspective of global politics. "USA actually came in as the second most popular destination that millennials want to travel to in 2018," says
Donna Jeavons, Contiki's sales & marketing director. Similarly, the unrest in Catalonia didn't stop Barcelona from reaching the fourth most popular city in Europe according to research from Tripping.com.
7. The definition of adventure travel is changing.
According to a recent study by the Adventure Travel Trade Association (ATTA), the definition of "adventure" is changing. Climbing mountains and jumping off stuff? Not necessary. Getting deep into a culture is the new type of adventure people are craving.
"Risky adrenaline activities are favored 45% less than "experiencing a new culture" in the definition of adventure travel," says a report from Intrepid Travel
8. No travel buddies? No worries!
According to Intrepid Travel, going solo is one of the latest growing travel trends for 2018. "Google searches for “solo travel” and “travel alone” were at the highest they've ever been in January of this year," says the report. "Travel companies are now building catered products to not only accommodate, but celebrate the solo traveler." The company themselves report seeing a 40% increase in solo passengers on group trips over the past five years.
What this means for vacation rental hosts: catering to solo travellers can result in more bookings than you might expect. Even a single-sleeping spare room may prove to be in hot demand.
9. Tech matters, more and more.
According to the HomeAway 2018 report, 86% of Millennials are willing to pay more to stay in a vacation rental property that's outfitted with smart home technology. Compare that to only 65% of Baby Boomers, who aren't quite as keen on tech (but still, seemingly, enjoy asking Alexa to play their favourite album.)
The trend for tech matters because catering your vacation rental to Millennials
matters. 74% of Millennial travellers have rented a vacation rental through an online marketplace like HomeAway, according to the platform themselves.
So there you have it: nine key travel and vacation rental trends for the coming year. How are you managing with these ongoing changes to the travel industry? Let us know in the comments.