Boostly Roundtable – Top Travel Trends in 2021

Welcome to Boostly Podcast Season 11 Episode 49. This is a recap of my the Boostly Roundtable where we talked about the travel trends in 2021.

Here's the audio for this episode:

Here's the video for this episode:


00:00 Start
02:10 Travel Trends 2021
03:40 Introduction of Guests
09:20 New stats or trends for 2021
18:15 Length of stay
27:30 Additional information
35:00 More actionable tips
46:00 Quickfire questions
01:00:00 Know more about our guests

Whilst you’re here

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Visual – YouTube 

Audio – Boostly Podcast




Transcript from the Episode

Joseph: My name is Joseph Binestock. I'm Director of Sales of Americas Guesty. Guesty is a leading property management software. We're global in 80 countries around the world. And I'm very, very happy to be here today to discuss travel trends for 2021. And provide guests this insight.

Thibault: My name is Thibault Masson. I am French, obviously, as you can hear it. I am a property owner of two holiday rentals in St. Barts in the Caribbean and one in Bali. So I've been doing this for quite some years. And also I publish, is a website that's all about, you know, industry trends, what's going on and actionable actions, actual actions, actionable insights, I really, really, as an owner, myself, I really care about giving insights but making sure people could then say Okay, so what, what do I do? And so there's a free newsletter, people can just subscribe to the newsletter. And every week we set out new trends, what's going on what's new, either for direct bookings also on the Big Bad otas because in the past that may have worked with one of those otas. So I knew quite a few things as well about how they work inside. It's always good business perspective, I think two people missing what's on the mind of these big bad otas.

One interesting thing that we saw in terms of trends this 2021, and we're going to start with the UK is essentially after the UK roadmap announcement, back on February 22. We really saw a spike in reservations, especially for the summertime. As people have more certainty about travel about reopening, we were really, really optimistic about the stats. And if we're looking at, for example, the UK 2021, short term rental summer reservation volume. That means June through August, we actually saw that was 36%, higher than of the summer of 2020. Which was very, very positive to see that. And that is, of course, directly correlated to the recent roadmap announcement as last month pre-announcement, some reservation volume in 2021 was 35%, lower than what we saw in 2020. And this is data that was pulled on March 1. So it's very, very recent.

Still on UK stat, so for we're deep-diving into the different months in the summer. So we're looking at, for example, July 2021, at a 14% more reservation volume compared to July 2020. for August, we're seeing 53% more reservation volume, compared to August 2020. So we're seeing a pattern that reservations are building up there is this pent up demand. And we think that as we get closer to the summer months, that volume may increase, of course. So that is something that is very interesting. Also the average nightly rate. So if we're looking, for example, the average nightly rate on June 21, we're looking at 180 pounds per night, which is up 58%. from last year, July 21, we're already at 222 pounds per night, which is a 53% increase. And in August, it's the priciest month, it's at 220 to 229 pounds per night, which is up 34%. So, that is also a very, very positive. Very positive, I think data that is coming out of the UK, right?

Thibault: I think these are great numbers and of just the guest guests he guys get the data because you see all this data pouring in from property managers right look in UK. So you this is where data comes from is reliable. So what I've always loved we've seen like, data from property managers as fantastic. I think what's important to hear as well, when I hear this and also for anyone who's not in UK as well, is to understand that when the British Prime Minister talked on February 22, it directed like a spike in traffic on the website of property managers, right. I think Sykes who their cottages shared that you know, they had like 200% boom in traffic and 400% boom in bookings that evening, which people have been working looking for, but they will not booking, and then it will surge in traffic. But for people who, you know, who live in countries where there's not been anywhere they're still very strong travel restrictions, no clear deadlines, it does mean people are looking right now, right. And so I would say it's a sure sign that they waiting for a signal and with that single columns, you see a boom. Another thing I would like to talk about as well as that. Again, even if within the UK when there was this boom of bookings. It was was, again is if you're not in UK, it was a British Prime Minister talking but it was really talking about England in Cornwall in terms of the plan right, what's so that's where if there was I was looking at different maps and his company called transparent that there's like maps and uses data. It's free go and see what they do. To see transparent outcome, I think Yeah, and you look at maps and like Scotland, Northern Ireland, nothing because if you're not in the UK basically it means that the plan was not was only for England and Cornwall basically, I think even not even Wales. Was there. I think. So yeah, a lot of bookings in certain areas. What's very interesting all this, you see this, this borders reappearing. And if you look like this map in Europe, same thing, like France is actually doing pretty okay at the moment. Because we have a strong domestic market in France. And the US, California is not doing well, Florida is crazy, but always crazy in Florida, but it's booming. So it's what's very interesting, as well, to me is that there was a boom, but certainly more in rural areas, in places where people knew would be open a certain date. So it does mean that for example, in cities like London, things were not so great. So I don't know how many people here maybe you can say that your comments are actually our own properties in cities, but it's a tough one. If you have a property a cottage on the coast, for example, in UK, but same thing in France and Brittany, for example, or other areas. Yeah, I mean, why discount? Don't don't discount, right?

There's, there's gonna be if there's been a boom in UK, there's gonna be there's gonna be pent up demand as well. In other countries. If you have a strong domestic market, right, people will come. So don't discount, there's no need to discount for early Booker's right now because you can even imagine that people will be booking even late to go to you to your place. Now, if you're in London, I would say actually, the prices are not. On the price side, things are not as great because people will be traveling more right. But then you will have to come to the hotels and hotels are desperate in cities for bookings. So I would say, by comments on the pricing issue, like maybe in cities, it's still gonna be tough.

Joseph: I just wanted to talk about the length of stay for 2021. So we're actually seeing the same thing. We're actually seeing the length of stay in June, up 8% from last year, and it's at 4.3 days per stay, July, we see a 24% increase than last year, and in August, it's 7%. But we're still seeing that increase in length of stay, which shows basically, you know, the pent up demand for people who want to travel right and they want to spend more time outside their home. So I mean, it makes complete sense. Especially with that, you know, that roadmap there is that build-up for vacation. So obviously, as soon as they can do that, you know, they definitely and especially in the summertime, it makes complete sense. As for the properties, the type of properties that is booked, this is also something that we're looking at as part of our data. So we're seeing actually the most popular are apartments followed by houses, condos, cottages, service apartments, and then last townhouses. So maybe this means that you know you have a lot of friends and family right going to visit which makes sense during the summertime. You see the urban locations perhaps start to, to open up, confidence is restored. And people are really interested, you know, to travel back also to the urban locations not perhaps just to the leisure markets. And also it's it's identifying, of course, the short term rental market as being the hottest market right now. So any short term rental property that you can get your hands on, for a good price these in these locations? So that's, you know, that's very interesting as well.

Thibault: I'm trying to play my role of the French guy who says no one disagrees with everything. I agree with what you guys said and just to add a few more colour here as well as the length of stays very interesting to me because what is some point last year, for example, you know, that time like March April, we're looking at data you saw the length of stay exploding and like stays became like 3, 4, 8, 20 days in average. And that was talking about my property in Bali right my property in Bali like in Bali, for example. stays where over a month on average in the market why because basically they were the only stays there. So if you're looking at data, the address just a pure average not the volume but the average of the stays. You only had people who were stranded in Bali what like Russians didn't want to go back to Russia and they wanted to stay over and write the COVID wave in Bali so uh, so I really thought last year that like okay, basically we see this longer stays just because we don't have shorter stays because this we don't have this demand. What's very interesting is two points to see actually things we do have more again this year longer stays happening. It is very interesting. So does it mean I don't know right? But does it mean that we do have more remote workers for example, who say no, what I'm planning right now? I'm planning right now to stay in June new Cotswold and I'm looking now because I want to make sure I have this place they have the desk they have great Wi-Fi apparently and booking displays or do we have right now booking people who are the people who are planners for knowing the kind of people you have usually people booked with you in January usually plan ahead are they just like I did the ones who've been planning and booking and because they want to have the whole week and make sure that the whole week and maybe closer to summer we're gonna have these like people booking last minute for like just like two or three nights they don't know and then the average girl go down. I don't know. It's very interesting. So I agree with you. I was super surprised. And then a second thing as well. I think family is very important right this year is getting back to reconnecting and right now I'm in my brother's apartments normally I live in the Netherlands and all in the Caribbean depends but right now I'm in France in my brother's holiday rentals if looking for a nice place in the mountains in France, that's the place to be. But I'm there to see my mum, she's getting her sick. She was getting a second shot of the vaccine and people haven't seen her for six months. And I think if you have family in cities, you'll travel to see them. So long people see our families big with people we want to stay in a bigger place to be with their family. Also simple we'll see and see their family right so think about university students going back home or which will give you that later expats. That's a big market, expats coming back to their city. So if you if you if you can market to people who are expats and come back to your home country that's pretty smart. Because the nice Facebook groups that are that's where the action is right now to cater to ex-pats.

Thibault: I think what again, what's very interesting in the UK example, again, we saw different there's a big announcement basically, recently, maybe for some regions, right? As I said it was the same thing in the US. You're very contrasted or if you look at this, this map of Europe, it's like France is greenish. England is greenish, not Scotland, or Italy is completely red. In terms of like new bookings, or actually try maybe rephrase it stays right now what's happening and your bookings. Again, there are some explanations for that. Right? It's like some people, some countries have like lockdowns or not France, for example. There are no real lockdowns, but this like stronger measures that have been put on the city of Paris, people fled and it booked up in Britain in Normandy. That's why the searches very interesting. But again, it's very hard if you don't know that one country to be able to explain everything. It's very, very tricky. So I think it's tricky as well, if you example, you're leaving Spain. For example, Germans booked in Spain already, but Germany just announced, well, they announced they changed their mind. Anyway, that would be more or less travel restrictions. So you will learn a new wave of cancellations again. So again, I saw people in the comments finishing or we were getting cancellations and news positive right. But then it's still right For Bookings wrapping back in April and May stay supposed to happen in May, April in May is so uncertain that's to understand what's going on in feeder markets that you depend on. It's very tricky, because even in those countries, I can assure you it's not clear what's going on. And again, it's so I was looking at data and for example, if you look at February 2021. Basically in Europe, in terms of room nights stay, so stays that happened in February itself, Europe was minus 48%. And US was at minus 27%. So what was very interesting with the US, so again, they were 27%, less room nights sold and stayed that month compared with 2020. Because all the other thing with comparing data from starting now you have to compare with 2019. You're gonna miss a year. from that. So if you're looking at your own data, make sure you compare two to 19 from now on from March are a good way to mess. But anyway, what's interesting here, but the US has only minus 27%. So what's been happening in the US that the crisis hit them, but the worst they had was in April last year, they were at minus 35%, your plus or minus 55%. So the crisis hit like we harden you in Europe, and is still there. Like, there's like a, there was a boom in January, another boom in bookings in February in the US, not so much in Europe, just maybe right at the end of February, because thanks to the UK, but it's very, what's very striking to me is the divergence is basically if you if in us, Florida, it's fantastic. This like, bit too much too many people. But this really diverges where you see that.

I don't know if this link to link to risk aversion. And, you know, the way Americans are versus Europeans, or whether this like the the money that President Biden gave to each American spending now in booking things, I think Las Vegas right now is full, because people are spending money there. So I know what it means. But again, it's what's very interesting is that things are very contrasted from one place to another international travel is very uncertain. But the US certainly is rebounding faster than Europe, and again in UK faster than mainland Europe. And even in UK, seven certain parts of UK. So it's I think it's very tricky. What we know, again, we talk when we look at the data, things look a bit more certain for say, June, July, August. But my advice, expect cancellations still for April, when people don't know what's gonna happen, for example. So yeah, we're flexible.

More actionable tips

Joseph: I think in terms of the tips, providing to the listeners, I think that it's very important, how to implement these trends in in the properties, right how these properties are going to stand out. So one thing that we're looking at Guesty is how your property has become. Now, the main attraction is the actual destination, right? Because people sometimes need to stay longer indoors, you also want to make sure that your short term or vacation rental is prepared for that, right, you want to have great Wi Fi, Netflix more storage, right? Um, you know, you want you want to make sure that it will be able to accommodate, right, they're not going to be necessarily out of the property the majority of the time. So that's something that you want to prepare. Also, you want to have a property that is a bit more flexible, right, people want to work, they want to play at the property, they want to do a few things at the property. So you want to make sure that it's it's ready for that.

And another thing that we see, of course, is providing more flexible cancellation terms. So people will feel safer when they're booking the property. And, and these are things that you can do just with, you know, with how you set up, of course, your listing on on the different the different booking channels. And that is of course, something that is very, very important.

And, you know, and I think these are something that are in terms of the way they book, the property, the the guests journey, right throughout the guest journey, the different touch points, if it can be a lot light touch stay , you know, or even completely touchless it would be also very beneficial. And of course, right talking about the cleanliness of the property right, which is super important. So these are sort of the tips that that I would suggest just listening to the conversation right now. You know how to increase of course, the volume of bookings.

Thibault: I will start talking about the OTAs I know and then go about direct what I mean go cheers here what's important is that if you're in UK in the US or France for example, you probably have seen on TV or YouTube a huge ad campaign from Airbnb and also in French market I see a lot of ads from VRBO.

So what it means again, means that these people are splitting these big platforms are spending a lot of money right now to do just what we're talking about right now. Right they know that they want to be ready for the moment the wave comes. If you have listing, you better be ready right? If you have a stall set up like a desk for people to do work remotely we better be able to see that photo. Update your photos should be ready for example with any kind of new feature you have right. Same thing for the pricing that should be ready.

Let's reverse engineer this, look at what they're asking you like what are the new things at Airbnb, VRBOor booking has introduced right? They're asking you more information but a desk or more things about exactly your point you offer soft chicken. This information you should have on your website, right? If I'm coming direct to your website, I need you to tell me this because the platform's I cannot tell you this. If you look at the Airbnb ads as well, looks like this What enter your homes looks like it's about reconnecting with friends and family. And for example, on our blog really talking more on Instagram accounts, we're talking about people reconnecting for properties, friends and family have finally come with your your friends or your your kids. And you're gonna be together in this house, and you're gonna be cooking together, like so. Again, look at the platform's update your listings, but so take inspiration from them to for your own benefit.

The other thing I wanted to save mentioned is Instagram, in my case. So for St. Barts, I have a domain name and an Instagram account to go with it. And right now, every day, we have plenty of people asking us questions about when will the island reopen? So as you can imagine, right, there's a lot of people who want information right now about travel restrictions when they're going to be lifted. So and I see lots of some property managers dancing around information not wanting to know about bad news on their social media, I disagree. I mean, I would be looking at my plane ticket in hand, I want to know when the item could be open. So it's very interesting. And it's a moment where you can make a difference for you with your own properties and say, Hey, I know what's going on in your market on a local or properties there, let me help you. So again, that's the big brands can't do this, you can do it. So again, for the whole for the direct bookings at SU a tip, at least, it's working for us to have more people now, subscribing to our newsletter coming from Instagram feed because of that.

Joseph: I just want to talk about the specific personas that we're expecting. And this comes up from our recent survey of more than 500 participants from the hospitality industry. So the first persona that we're talking about are travellers that are looking to reunite with friends and family. We're looking at another persona that is basically revenge travel, right, the, you know, the future surge and travel, you know, due to, you know, the cabin fever that has caused because of the pandemic.

And also, you know, some travellers are just looking at it, obviously, a change of scenery. Some travellers would decide to travel, of course, for business reasons, but much less. But we're also seeing these, you know, change of patterns also in terms of the traveller and the traveller and the travel persona, which is very, very interesting. And also based on that you can make the necessary changes, right? Or updates, if it's to the listing, if it's to, you know, the advertising strategy and, and so on.

Quickfire questions

In the last five years, what have you changed your opinion on?

Joseph: The most important I think even over the last five years that made me really, I would say change my opinion or be stronger of it as well. As you know, I was just surprised how we are, you know, resilient, as an industry, as a society in the face of so much uncertainty, especially, you know, due to the global pandemic. And we really managed to accommodate our lives to this, you know, new normal that I believe most of us has never experienced before. And, you know, I just find it very remarkable. And, and I'm very hopeful about the future.

Thibault: I think probably I thought there'd be no room for a kid in my life.

What is your guilty pleasure?

Thibault: I think to me, it's pretending and doing social media research and trained to understand the YouTube algorithm. Well, basically, I'm just following random videos, and trying to see where I'm landing like, last night, I was watching videos about Christian fundamentalists in the US. I will pretend I just wanted to study the algorithm.

Joseph: I connected it actually to travel to make it interesting. So as a kid, I used to actually collect different things. So I used to collect, you know, coins, stamps, obviously, everyone collected sports cards, right. And recently, the last few years, every place I visit, I like to collect memories from that place. So for example, I went to Prague and I visited a gallery that showed Andy Warhol. And so I had to save that ticket for the gallery. Or, for example, I went scuba diving in Catalina Island, just off of the California coast and near Los Angeles. And I just had to hang on to the brochure. So these are just little things that I like to do, um, you know, a key card from a boutique hotel. It's just all kinds of things that I like, it's just my habit in the last few years.

What are you looking forward to next year?

Joseph: I'm very excited about different things that are happening in our industry. So one thing that is very exciting is just, you know, looking forward and seeing, you know, the continued resilience of entrepreneurs in the industry, and how they built their business within our, you know, ecosystem, how it's becoming more decentralized. And how we see that sort of more of a democratic ecosystem, so to speak. And, and also, you know, it really shows how flexible the short term rental ecosystem is. And, you know, I think I'm very optimistic about the future, I think there is a very bright future for the short term rental industry, vacation rentals, and especially for these entrepreneurs. So that's, I think that is very exciting. And, you know, and we see them our right our users, we talk to them every day. Yeah. So I think that's very, very impactful.

Thibault: What I'm missing is the sense of community in real life. So I'm really looking forward to the first events coming back to see you all guys and talk about this. I'm looking forward to, we, right now in St. Barts, we've, so we've destroyed and rebuilt our home basically because there was a big hurricane two years ago. Two things and we patched it, it was okay. But it was like I got to rebuild it. So we spent last year rebuilding the house. It's launching this week, which is fantastic. The islands closed for tourists. I look forward to actually taking my own home.

Know more about our guests

Joseph: Guesty website

Thibault: Rental Scale-Up

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