We recently shared some encouraging stats about the short-term rental (also known as STR) market.  Overall, the travel industry got hit hard during COVID, so many tend to wonder how that affected STRs specifically.

What’s so fascinating is that the pandemic was actually a boon to the STR market.

Our vacation homes are packed with fun and memorable experiences like this racing gaming machine — a huge hit with little ones.

One major trend from 2020 and 2021 is that many people moved temporarily out of big cities, like New York City, in favor of less populated places and more spacious properties.  This made STRs the perfect place for people to camp out for weeks, or even months, with their families.  (Many people even made those moves permanent.)

Plus, places like Texas and Arizona also had fewer COVID restrictions, which made them enticing vacation destinations for those ready to get back out into the world.

But the biggest takeaway for our industry, coming out of COVID, is the reshuffling of demand from traditional hotels to STRs.  Although the STR market was certainly not new at the start of the pandemic, a lot of people discovered short-term rentals for the first time and many will likely continue using them.

For travelers, the benefits of staying in an STR far outweigh a traditional hotel, especially if you book an STR with experienced hosts.  If you book a whole house, you have a ton of room to spread out (and, many times, you can book it for less money than it would cost to book a hotel room block.)  You have more options to tailor your experience to your needs.

For example, our STRs are incredibly family-friendly — no need to pack up your bulky equipment that families with young kids need, like Pack ‘n Plays, high chairs, and even toys, games, and gifts for kiddos, our houses provide it all.  Our hosting manager extraordinaire, Jane, also puts together gift baskets with local treats for all of our guests.  (Most of our 5-star reviews mention Jane as one of the best parts of the Hughberry experience, and we’re inclined to agree.)

These kind of perks make traveling so much more enjoyable, but it’s unlikely you’ll find any thoughtful touches like these in a big corporate hotel chain.

What’s somewhat ironic, though, is that for years, most people preferred hotels for their many convenient amenities, and STR owners and hosts had to work hard to meet high expectations in order to be true competitors in the travel industry.  But now, the tables have turned in the hospitality game and hotels are scrambling to keep up with STRs.  Earlier this year the Wall Street Journal reported that hotels are making an effort to be more like vacation homes by offering personalized touches and experiences.

Still, they’ll likely have a way to go to catch up to the vacation home boom.  The same report predicted that folks traveling for the holidays were already booking STRs months in advance.  Among the numerous benefits of STRs is that you can stay in more unique properties than a cookie-cutter hotel.  Picture this: booking a picturesque cabin with the whole family and enjoying a snowy Christmas morning together.  Does a memorable vacation get any better than that?

We found in our research that the data continues to favor STRs over hotels.  You can see on this chart below that, after the expected dip in 2020, the market share for STRs is increasing substantially.

Our takeaway from all of this?  The hotel industry better watch out, because STRs are here to stay and only getting better all the time.