The key to running a successful short-term rental business in 2023 is knowing your guest’s expectations. Master this, and you’ll attract guests even when the market is intensely competitive, achieving maximum visibility, bookings, and occupancy. But, just like the short-term rental landscape, guests’ demands are always changing.
So, how can property managers keep their properties in demand? Market data and industry trends are invaluable tools you can use to predict what short-term rental guests will be looking for in the months ahead. Analyzing guest preferences and habits can provide valuable and actionable insights into what they are prioritizing. With that in mind, what can the past few months tell us about guest habits in 2023?
Longer booking windows
Uncertainty in recent years has led to short-term rental booking windows being dramatically shorter. However, last year’s market data shows how longer windows are slowly returning, with 2022’s average booking window being 68 days (only 9 days shorter than 2019). This trend shows how guests are regaining the confidence to plan vacations further in advance.
In 2023, we expect to see this continuing, especially since guests are planning to take more trips in the year ahead. According to Expedia, 4 in 5 people plan to take a leisure trip in 2023 — with the average person planning two trips. These insights are promising for short-term rental property managers. Advanced booking creates more predictable occupancy and revenue, which can provide operators with a greater sense of stability.
Although travel barriers are decreasing, guests continue to expect flexibility. This applies not only to generous booking and cancellation policies, but also to how guests want to travel. What does this mean for property managers? Convenience is a priority in travel and lifestyle right now. Guests want to have seamless experiences that allow them to fully immerse themselves in vacation mode.
How can you offer guests this experience? Simplify the check-in process so guests can arrive at their convenience without picking up keys from on-site staff. Keyless access eliminates the need for guests to keep track of keys and prevents them from getting locked out.
Use smart home technology, such as HVAC and water sensors, to automate maintenance alerts to minimize interruptions during a booked stay. Allowing guests to stay at your property undisturbed can encourage that ‘home away from home’ feeling many are searching for.
A focus on wellness
Interest in personal wellness tends to peak as we begin a new year, but Booking.com research suggests that travelers will be focusing on wellness year-round in 2023. More than 4 out of 10 travelers express a desire to take a trip where they can focus on their mental and physical health.
Guests are seeking travel experiences that provide a feeling of ‘escape’ from their day-to-day lives and opportunities to rejuvenate. This means they’ll be on the lookout for spaces where they can meditate, practice yoga, or exercise. So, if you have accommodating amenities such as larger living areas and a private garden, be sure to detail this in listing descriptions and in your rental photos. It can also be beneficial to highlight nearby attractions such as hiking trails that allow guests to explore the outdoors and engage in physical activities. By highlighting these features, you can increase your rental appeal and attract guests who are seeking wellness-oriented travel experiences.
Sustainability continues to be at the forefront of travelers’ minds in 2023. A new study by the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC), Trip.com Group, and Deloitte shows that 69% of travelers are actively seeking sustainable options in the year ahead. For the lodging industry, this means that guests will be on the lookout for environmentally conscious accommodation.
Property managers can appeal to these environmentally conscious guests by being transparent about the kind of tech they use in their properties. Many US households now use smart home devices to combat rising energy costs by reducing overconsumption of electricity, gas, and water. Guests will expect similar solutions in their vacation accommodation. So, whether you’ve installed a smart thermostat to optimize heating and cooling in your short-term rental, or use a smart water management system, make sure you communicate this with guests. These seemingly small details could be the deciding factor for your guest when choosing between you and a competitor.
As travel continues to normalize, longer booking windows are expected to return, providing greater security and revenue predictability for operators. However, some trends brought about by uncertainty in travel over recent years, such as the need for flexibility, are here to stay. Guest preferences in 2023 will also include a place to escape and rejuvenate, while sustainability remains high on everyone’s agenda.
Read more on ‘How tech is helping vacation rentals prevent disturbances’ in this Phocuswire article featuring a quote from our Director of Sales.