Demand for hotels, Airbnb, Vrbo, summer vacation costs soar


When Alison Riley decided to rent a beachfront cottage in Cape Cod, Massachusetts last June after months of confinement at home during the pandemic, she found a six-bedroom home almost immediately.

The Andover, Massachusetts, resident loved the vacation experience so much that she decided she would spend next summer renting houses in different parts of the Cape to get to know the area and eventually buy a place there.

By September, the real estate agent who helped her find rent in Cape Town Harwich was asking her to consider booking a home for summer 2021.

“She said… you’d better book something now,” Riley recalls. “I knew I had to act because she knows the Cape Market very well.”

Alison Riley (camo shorts) and her husband Ian Dawe (red shorts) with their children outside their summer 2020 rental home in Harwich, Cape Cod.

Alison Riley (camo shorts) and her husband Ian Dawe (red shorts) with their children outside their summer 2020 rental home in Harwich, Cape Cod.

Riley found a place in Eastham, Massachusetts, far from Cape. By December, she had placed a 50% deposit.

It turned out to be a good idea. In the first week of January, the landlord where she stayed last summer called her to tell her he only had one week available for the summer.

“In 2017, I probably got a place for $2,300. Now they’re up to $4,500 a week,” says Wendy Allison, a Riley real estate agent.

It’s a problem travelers across the country face while booking their summer getaways: high accommodation prices, driven by the millions of Americans willing to hit the roads now after COVID cases decreased. Whether they’re looking for a hotel room in Miami or a Vrbo in Myrtle Beach, demand and prices for many destinations are back to 2019 levels, or even higher, experts warn, after last summer’s dip.

“If you haven’t booked your summer vacation and don’t want to spend an arm and a leg, it may be too late,” says Patrick Scholes, an analyst at Trust Bank.

How much do summer reservations cost?

When Phil Dingler traveled to Cape May, New Jersey last June, he was able to book a hotel room near the beach for just over $300 a night.

In April, residents of Deptford, NJ, looked forward to booking a room at the same hotel this summer. But prices started around $500 a night, and other places have already filled up.

Phil Dingler's girlfriend, Robin England, lies on the beach during their trip to Cape May, New Jersey, in June 2020.

Phil Dingler’s girlfriend, Robin England, lies on the beach during their trip to Cape May, New Jersey, in June 2020.
Phil Dingler

“I am totally amazed at how sophisticated everything is,” says Dingler, co-owner of the travel advice website. vacationer. “Everyone wants to get out there and take a trip. <(and) everything is so much more expensive.”

The average hotel room rate in the United States rose to $110.34 in April, up 51% year over year, but still below the pre-pandemic rate of $131.40 in April 2019, hotel industry data firm STR found.

Rates for nationwide short-term rentals from platforms like Airbnb have already exceeded pre-pandemic rates, according to data compiled by rental data company AirDNA. The average cost of short-term accommodation in the United States in May was $244.42, up 21% from the same month in 2019.

The increase in prices was driven by rising demand.

Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky told USA TODAY last month that he expects demand during the summer holidays to be “huge” this year.

Alison Kwong, a spokeswoman for holiday rental platform Vrbo, says families have booked summer vacation homes on the platform “much earlier” and for more nights in 2021, making rentals for popular destinations unavailable on certain dates.

“The hosts have taken an interest in the travel boom this summer and have priced their vacation homes accordingly,” Kwong said in an email. “Pummeled demand, vaccinations, and a desire to be reunited with loved ones prompted families to book as early as February, and many of the most popular destinations in Firpo were quickly discovered.”

Inclusive, 40% of Americans Expect to take at least one recreational trip between Memorial Day and the end of September compared to 42% in 2019, according to an April survey by Deloitte Insights of more than 2,000 people.

Steve Hart, CEO of the property management company, which has franchises with property managers across the country, said the company’s short-term rental properties are filling up quickly. Over 80% are already booked all summer long.

Alison Kwong, spokeswoman for vacation rental platform Vrbo
The hosts took care of this summer’s travel boom and set their vacation home prices accordingly. Suppressed demand, vaccinations and a desire to be reunited with loved ones prompted families to book as early as February.

“It’s going to be hard for travelers to find great deals right now,” he says.

Short-term rental rooms in the United States will remain expensive during the busy summer travel season, with the average price expected to peak in July at $288.94, according to AirDNA data forecasts. The national average short-term rental price rose more than 20% between May 2019 and May 2021, while listings in similar markets are seeing price increases anywhere from 10% to 15%, according to Jimmy Lynn, vice president of research.

“Real estate is scarce, and that has allowed owners (and operators) to raise those rates,” says Lynn.

Vacation Rentals Fill Up Fast

Many locations in cities like Boston, Chicago, New York, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C., have lower summer rates because they have plenty of room and are still waiting for work and international travel to return, says Scholes of Trust Bank.

But a cheap beach vacation this summer? Forget about it.

Some of the more expensive and less available places are in popular warm-weather destinations with camping or beaches, where it’s easiest to socialize.

“We’re seeing higher demand than (in) 2019, an all-time record” in hot weather regions, says Chad Bennon, an analyst at Macquarie, an investment bank and financial services company.

The average price of Vrbo’s overnight rentals in its destination markets has jumped more than 25% this summer compared to the same period in 2019. Despite the higher prices, most, if not all, short-term rentals will be sold out in the destination resort markets says Lynn Off We wanted to travel in the summer of 2021.

“The market is already 80% busy in the summer months,” he says.

Occupancy rates at the popular beach destination in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina 78% for the week from May 31 to June 6, compared to 48% in the same period in 2019, to me Key Data, a data analytics company that tracks data on 100,000 active vacation rentals from 680 US property management companies for the Vacation Rental Management Association. Average daily room rates also increased to $270.27 from $252.19.

“Our hotels are reporting strong bookings during the fall,” says Julie Ellis, director of public relations at Visit Myrtle Beach. The marketing arm of the Myrtle Beach Chamber of Commerce.

Wendy Allison is a realtor who specializes in Cape Cod real estate.

Wendy Allison is a realtor who specializes in Cape Cod real estate.

In Cape Cod, a popular summer vacation destination, the rental occupancy rate is currently 85%, compared to 62% at the same time in 2019. There is a shortage of inventory, with owners unwilling to rent, says Allyson, a real estate agent.

“Some people say their kids come home after they graduate college or work remotely,” she says. “They usually rent it out for rental income, but now they let their kids use it or maybe sell it.”

Even funky summer destinations are in high demand.

Rob Hampton, general manager of the Palm Springs Convention Center and Tourism Bureau, says the Southern California city is seeing a “significant increase” in demand — even with temperatures regularly rising above 100C.

From local vacation rentals to hotels, “everyone reported that they were expecting a record-breaking summer this year,” says Hampton. “If you look at some hotel websites, they’re already sold out. Weekends are pretty strong.

The best vacation rental for your budget

So what can travelers do to avoid higher room rates this summer?

If you’re in the market for a vacation, branching out outside some of the traditional destinations can help, says Melanie Brown, director of data and analytics at Key Data.

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“If people are willing to go back to the cities, their occupancy rates are generally more flexible than some of those destinations like beaches or mountain destinations,” she says. “Just being flexible about the dates and the type of destination you’re looking for can help.”

Some of the cities where you can still find locations include Washington, D.C., where the occupancy rate for summer rentals is 51% in 2021, compared to 47% at the same time in 2019. In Austin, Texas, the occupancy rate rose to 37% from 31% in 2019.

Kwong of Vrbo says some of the “hidden gems” on the platform include Cherry Log, Georgia; Bella Vista, Arkansas; And Slade, Kentucky. All of these locations tend to see fewer crowds but still have vacation homes near the lakes and mountains.

It also suggests that those planning to travel this summer book their vacation as early as possible, before the choice and available dates become more specific.

Airbnb also provides users with more options when searching for accommodations and She recently updated her platform To allow more flexible searches.

For Riley, who has four children, three of whom are in their 20s and live away from home, the opportunity to move away to Cape Cod as a family for a week was possible because she moved quickly.

“I felt like everyone really needed it mentally. I have my oldest daughter living alone,” she says. “I feel like this year has been a long one, and we need to be together as a family.”

Alison, her agent, says she saw the writing on the wall.

“People realize there is a lot (more) in life than work,” she says. “And if you’re able to work remotely, why wouldn’t you want to work on Cape Cod?”

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