Vacation Rental Industry Statistics

Report Highlights.The U.S. vacation rental industry lost $1.1 trillion in economic output in 2020. Despite this, industry experts expect the industry to return to its trajectory of growth.

  • 600,000 Americans rent out their homes or private properties to short-term guests.
  • The average rental price at popular destinations is $186 per night for a single or 2-person rental.
  • 65% of jobs lost in 2020 were directly or indirectly supported by the travel industry.
  • 70% of vacation rental companies are small businesses.
  • Income from overseas inbound travel declined 74%.

Grouped Bar Graph: Jobs Supported by Domestic Travel Industry from 2019 to 2020, all travel jobs (16.7 million to 11.1 million), direct travel jobs (9.0 million to 6.0 million), and indirect travel jobs (7.7 milion to 5.1 million)

Vacation Rental Industry Statistics

Industry revenue declined in 2020, though the industry showed signs of a rebound as early as May of that year.

  • 23,000 vacation rental companies operate in the U.S.
  • Vacation rental companies account for 31.3% of all privately owned accommodation* establishments nationwide.
  • Globally, there are 115,000 vacation rental companies.
  • 600,000 Americans use online platforms, such as AirBnB, to rent out their homes, condos, apartments, and/or rooms to short-term guests.
  • 21% of all vacation rental properties are in the United States; 60% are in Europe.
  • 70% of vacation rental companies are small, managing 1-19 units.
  • 20% of all vacation rental companies are medium-sized and manage about 20-99 units.
  • 10% of companies are large companies that manage over 100 units.
  • 2.58 million rental properties in the United States are seasonally occupied.
  • 450 million people worldwide use vacation rentals.

*Falling under the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) Sector 7211 Traveler Accommodation.

Statistics show longer stays in larger units/properties were growing in popularity even before that pandemic hit.

  • Vacation rental industry revenue exceeded projections by more than $29 billion in 2019.
  • The average revenue per user (ARPU) was $110.40.
  • In 2019, the annual market growth rate was 6.9%.
  • Short stays (between 1 and 7 days) accounted for 79% of bookings prior to March 2020.
  • This dropped to 30% in March 2020, but grew to 59% by December 2020.
  • 10% of U.S. travel bookings were for short-term rentals prior to March 2020.
  • Throughout 2020, their share rose to over 25%.
  • As lockdowns went into effect in March 2020, booking cancellations rose by 534%.
  • By late-May, online searches for vacation information were 100% higher than they were the previous year.
  • 23% of Americans report engaging with short-term rental platforms.

Grouped Bar Graph: Domestic Travel Spending Purposes in Billions from 2019 to 2020, total travel ($993.5 to $638.1), leisure travel ($696.2 to $542.4), and business travel ($297.3 to $95.8)

Post-COVID Trends

Statistics indicate that travelers are eager for a return to the traditional vacation with greater interest in domestic and rural stays.

  • Industry specialists project a return to a roughly 7.0% annual industry growth rate.
  • 61% of families are more likely to visit a rural or “outdoorsy” destination than an urban one.
  • 59% of families are more likely to drive instead of fly on their next trip.
  • Private room accommodation has decreased in popularity by 99%.
  • Cabins have increased in popularity by 80%.
  • Villas and bungalows increased in popularity 61% and 60%, respectively.
  • Statisticians expect revenue from the U.S. vacation rental industry to total roughly $15.338 billion in 2021.
  • The user penetration rate (percentage of a target market that consumes a product or service) is 15.3% in 2021.
  • The ARPU is projected to total $300.

Financial & Employment Trends

Historic losses in 2020 affected the entire industry.

  • Domestic travel spending declined 36% from 2019 to 2020.
  • International travel spending declined 79%.
  • The economic output from travel declined 42% or $1.1 trillion.
  • 35% of jobs lost in 2020 were direct travel jobs.
  • 65% of jobs lost in 2020 were travel-supported (directly or indirectly).
  • Before 2020, 11% of the workforce worked in travel-supported jobs.
  • 6% of the workforce was directly employed by the travel industry.
  • In 2020, travel-related tax revenue declined 34%.
  • Local jurisdictions received an 11% greater share of the total tax dollars generated by the travel industry.

Grouped Bar Graph: Taxes Generated by the Travel Industry in Trillions, 2019 and 2020

Investors & Buyers

Vacation rental buyers and investors may purchase a property for personal use, rental revenue, or a combination of the two.

  • 42% of investors and 39% of vacation home buyers pay all cash for their property purchase.
  • 63% of investors and 52% of vacation buyers buy detached single-family homes.
  • 33% of vacation home buyers purchase in a resort area, 24% purchase in a rural area, and 18% in a small town.
  • Another 33% of vacation home buyers purchase in a beach area, 21% purchase on a lakefront, and 15% purchase in the country.
  • 34% of investors purchase in a suburb or subdivision, 24% in a small town, and 19% in an urban area or central city.
  • 49% of vacation home buyers plan to use their property as a family retreat.
  • 45% of investment property buyers purchased to generate income through renting the property (as opposed to flipping it or seeking price appreciation)
  • 6% of vacation home buyers bought their property to generate income through renting.
  • 30% of vacation property owners and 32% of investment property have shown interest in renting their homes as short-term rentals.

Grouped Bar Graph: Domestic Business Travel Spending Purposes (Billions) 2019 to 2020, all business ($297.3 to $95.8), general business ($172.6 to $66.5), and conferences and conventions ($124.7 to $29.2)

Hosts, Managers & Owners

Vacation property owners, managers, and hosts lease property to short- and long-term guests.

  • 43% of hosts who lease their primary residence manage all aspects of the rental.
  • 38% of hosts who lease a secondary residence manage all aspects of the rental.
  • 2.25 million or 25% of second homes are used both as a rental property and professionally managed.
  • 31.6% of homeowners who use online platforms to advertise spend four or more hours creating their listing.
  • 77.9% of homeowners welcome guests to their property via email only.
  • 63% of homeowners reply to travelers within 60 minutes of receiving their inquiry.
  • The average accomodation worker earns $19.17 per hour and works 29.1 hours per week.
  • Lodging managers earn an average $26.75 per hour.

Bar Graph: Common Resources for Pre-Trip Planning, review websuites (59%), brochures (53%), family & friends (31%), travel agency website (25%), magazine or newspaper (21%), travel agent (12%), and social media (5%)

Guests, Visitors & Renters

As travelers return to their vacation rentals, many of their needs and expectations have changed.

  • Domestic travel declined 36% in 2020.
  • Average nightly rates in popular vacation destinations range from $186 per night for a single rental to $978 per night for a family-sized rental.
  • 53% of all travel is booked online.
  • 67% of travelers think it’s cheaper and easier to book on a brand website rather than a third-party website.
  • 71% of travelers with children say access to cooking their own meals is a major reason they choose a vacation rental.
  • 83% of travelers prefer to spend their vacations near water.
  • 74% of travelers prefer to be on the coast.
  • 51% prefer mountainous vacations.

Generational Differences

Millennials (and increasingly, Generation Z) are most likely to choose short-term rentals instead of hotels for their stays.

  • Millennials make up 40% of leisure travelers who book online.
  • Generation Z or Gen Z is most likely to travel with friends (35%) instead of traveling alone or with immediate family.
  • Prior to 2020, Gen Z spent their average vacation time in cities (more than 60% of the time), far surpassing rural and suburban destinations.
  • 81% of Gen Z travelers have already stayed in a vacation home, cabin or condo at some point in their lives.

Travel Planning

Though experts expect online booking to increase to 79% of all vacation reservations, many travelers still use traditional resources to plan trips.

  • Around Independence Day, Nantucket is more expensive than all other popular summer tourist destinations, at $978 per night.
  • Travelers can save up to 70% by booking stays in the off-season.
  • 95% of visitors have their travel plans influenced by brochure information.
  • 83% plan to visit a business or attraction highlighted in a brochure, map, or guide.
  • 78% of travelers consider altering their travel plans as a result of a brochure.
  • 53% of travelers use brochures to plan their trip before they arrive.
  • 59% of people review websites, online forums, etc. before going on a trip.
  • 31% turn to family and friends for recommendations when planning a vacation.
  • 25% of people use a travel agency website.

Property Taxes & Types

As short-term and vacation rental becomes a more popular way to supplement income, tax legislation continues to define terms and restrictions.

  • A minimal-rent residence refers to a personal residence that is rented out for a period of less than 14 days per year, any revenue generated is not subject to income tax. Expenses, however, are not eligible for a business write off.
  • Rental property refers to any property that is designated a business for tax purposes and rented out for more than 14 days per year. Further, the property owner may not use the property for personal purposes for 14 days or more per year. Any revenue is subject to income tax, but the property owner may write off all relevant business expenses.
  • Medium- and heavy-rent residences refer to personal residences that are designated based on a ratio of personal-to-rental use. A medium-rent residence is a personal residence where personal days are either in excess of 14 days or are greater than 10% of the total number of rental days. Heavy-rent refers to a personal residence where personal days are both in excess of 14 days and less than or equal to 10% of the total number of rental days.

Sources

  1. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), Industries at a Glance: Accommodation: NAICS 721
  2. Internal Revenue Service (IRS), Topic No. 415 Renting Residential and Vacation Property
  3. IRS, Residential Rental Property (Including Rental of Vacation Homes): For Use in Preparing 2020 Returns
  4. U.S. Census Bureau, North American Industry Classification System: Sector 72–Accommodation and Food Services
  5. Vacation Rental Market Association, Industry Research Data
  6. New Vacation Rental Stats from the National Association of Realtors
  7. VRM Intel, How 2020 Played Out: Analyzing Performance in 10 Key Vacation Rental Destinations
  8. U.S. Travel Association, Fact Sheet: Travel’s Dramatic Losses in 2020
  9. Grandview Research, Industry Analysis: Vacation Rental Market
  10. Statistia, Vacation Rentals Worldwide
  11. Statista, Vacation Rentals in the United States
  12. Hostfully, Market Report: Outlook on the Holiday Season Amidst the Pandemic
  13. The State of The U.S. Vacation Rental Industry in 2018
  14. Orange County North Carolina, AirDNA: 2021 AirDNA Trend Report