Survey: Preference of Vacation Rentals Over Hotels Increases 10% in 2019

When consumers are shopping – be it for furniture, clothing, or vacation rentals – there are a few things that always matter: variety, quality, and affordability.

This is a large part of the reason the vacation rental industry has boomed over the past several years and continues to do so. Vacation rentals offer a variety of high-quality, affordable accommodation options in many hot vacation destinations. The industry is at roughly a 10% growth rate this decade, largely affected by travelers desires to stay in a home instead of a hotel.

And traveler trends prove it. According to TurnKey Vacation Rentals’ 2019 Consumer Travel Survey, 64% of travelers prefer staying in vacation rentals to hotels – this is up 10% from our 2018 Consumer Travel Survey.

We surveyed over 1,000 travelers who have stayed in a vacation rental, asking them questions about their accommodation preference, travel behavior, and more. Here are our key findings and how they compare to the previous year.

Traveler Profiles

Who is the typical traveler?

While travel preferences differed based on age, gender, income, and even state, there were a few commonalities between travelers. Overall, people traveled more in 2018 than they thought they would. When we surveyed people in 2018 if they planned to travel for leisure in 2019, 91% of respondents said yes. When asked if they did travel in 2019, 96% of people surveyed said they did. With the typical traveler taking 5 or more leisure trips, it’s no surprise that people traveled more than they had originally planned to.

Travelers were most likely to head to the beach, spend 4-6 hours traveling to their destination, and journey by car – all of which remained constant with traveler preference in 2018. One difference in 2018, however, was how much travelers preferred cars to planes. In 2018, 8% more respondents preferred traveling via car than plane. In 2019, only 4% more preferred to travel via car.

How much are people actually traveling?

Frankly, a lot – especially compared to 2018. In our 2018 survey, the majority of travelers reported taking 3 trips or fewer in 2017. While in 2019, that has shifted to a majority of travelers reporting they took 3 trips or more in 2018.

Our most recent survey found travelers jetted off on 5 or more trips in 2018 compared to only 2 trips the year prior – an increase in yearly travel of 250%.

Do men and women travel differently?

When comparing men’s and women’s travel preferences in 2019, we noticed distinct traveler profiles for each gender.

While both men and women prefer vacation rentals to hotels, men are more willing to consider a hotel for their accommodations. Neither has a strong preference of car or plane, but women prefer shorter trips compared to men who don’t mind traveling for 6 hours or more for a single trip.

Additionally, men tend to prefer longer trips less frequently, while women prefer to travel more often for shorter periods of time.

Who do people travel with?

In our 2019 survey, we found people’s travel partner preferences have distinct shifts based on age. Younger travelers are more likely to travel with friends, while older travelers place more value on traveling with family members, especially their partners.

People below the age of 25 and people over the age of 65 have the most distinct partner preferences. Travel companion preferences are more fluid for those aged 25-64. As people grow older, they tend to spend more time traveling with family than friends, which probably has much to do with people getting married, building families, and forging closer bonds with loved ones. But a note on traveling with family – there’s a bell curve for the preference of traveling with kids. The youngest and oldest travelers are least likely to travel with kids, while people aged 35-44 are most likely to travel with offspring.

How long are people willing to travel for?

Some travelers love seemingly endless road trips, while others prefer a quick flight to their destination of choice. In both 2018 and 2019, travelers report their average travel time for a trip as being 4-6 hours. In 2019, however, travelers are less likely to travel for more than 6 hours this year in comparison to last year.

The only exception is those aged 65 and older. This is the only demographic that prefers to travel for 7+ hours, with over a third explicitly preferring to travel 10 hours plus.

Accommodations

Why do travelers prefer vacation rentals to hotels?

From 2018 to 2019, we saw a 10% increase in preference of vacation rentals over hotels. This begs the question – why are people choosing vacation rentals over hotels? According to our 2019 survey, space and amenities were the primary reasons travelers preferred vacation rentals to hotels. This was followed by cost and location. In 2018, guests cited location, cost, space, and amenities as their reason for their preference, weighing all four items equally.

How far ahead do travelers book their accommodations?

People like to plan ahead for their vacations. Similar to 2018’s survey, travelers book their rentals about 2-3 months ahead of when they plan to travel. However, in 2019, travelers are more likely to plan their vacations even further out. We saw a 4% drop in people booking last-minute trips and a 5% increase in people booking 6 to 8 months ahead.

What is important to travelers when booking a vacation rental?

Compared to 2018, the same three elements are important to travelers in 2019 when booking a rental – location, prior guest reviews, and amount of space – but the order has changed. In 2019, location became more important to travelers than previous reviews. Photos have also become more important in travelers’ booking decisions than descriptions, reinforcing the need for homeowners to invest in high-quality photography for vacation rental listings.

What is important to travelers during their stay at a vacation rental?

Cleanliness remains the No. 1 factor that impacts whether or not a traveler has a pleasant stay at a vacation rental. Security and quiet flipped spots on the list from 2018 to 2019, but all other factors remained of the same importance to travelers.

Having a vacation rental that is clean, quiet, and secure enables travelers to relax and begin to enjoy the other 6 amenities on this list.

What influences where people travel and stay?

When it comes to making a purchase decision, people are influenced by a variety of factors including the media they consume online and their friends and family. Where a rental is located is the the key determining factor for selecting a vacation rental for most travelers. It’s actually twice as important as cost to a majority of travelers making vacation plans. The travelers it’s not as important to? Those who are aged 18-34 years old. As people get older, location’s influence on booking steadily increases.

As far as where people are choosing to travel, travelers say they’re most influenced by family. 54% of travelers report their family influencing their travel choices, while a third of people say they’re not influenced by anything.

As the vacation rental industry continues to expand, learning from the travelers helping it grow is crucial to continue innovating and providing them with what they want and need. Happy traveling!


*Survey Methodology: We surveyed over 1,026 U.S. travelers from November-December 2018. The survey included questions concerning frequency of travel in the last year, recent travel destinations, and factors influencing choice such as reviews and features when selecting a hotel or vacation rental.

For any data requests, please email brittany.shulman@turnkeyvr.com.

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