09/20 Traveler Sentiment Update

Traveler Sentiment: Since March 15th, Destination Analysts survey 1200+ potential American travelers each week to gauge traveler sentiment.

  • Nearly half of American travelers (47%) feel a high degree of stress in their daily lives. But while stress is up compared to a few months ago, the propensity to worry about coronavirus is down.
  • Since April, and amidst rising stress, more Americans are reporting stronger prioritization of relaxation, finding joy/happiness, and-especially important for travel-having new experiences.
  • Those who are already traveling (or ready to without hesitation) are far likelier to be prioritizing finding joy and escaping from boredom in their lives over the next six months compared to other Americans.
  • Openness to travel continues to bloom. The level of excitement for learning about new travel experiences or destinations to visit is at a pandemic-period high-one last obtained at the end of May.
  • Unlike early on in the pandemic, now less than 50% of American travelers consider staying in a hotel, Airbnb or home rental, dining in a restaurant, visiting an amusement park or other outdoor attraction, recreating outdoors and shopping to be unsafe. Overall perceptions of travel's safety remain at the lowest levels they have been during the pandemic.
  • Now just 37% agree they need a vaccine to travel, down from a high of 45% at the start of August.
  • Half as many Americans are saying they are going to change the types of travel destinations they choose to visit post-pandemic than in April, and among those that are saying they will indeed change the types of destinations they choose to visit, more positive reasons are being offered up as to why than in prior months, including an increased willingness to explore new destinations and crossing places off their bucket lists.
  • Americans are also less likely to feel their leisure travel will be dampened by the current state of things.
  • Mountain, Beach, remote locations and family visits rank among the highest desirability to travel to due to the availability of wide open spaces and distancing, conversely urban markets are currently the least desirable as people want to try to avoid crowds.

Florida and Orlando Region Vacation Rental Industry Update
According to the Florida Vacation Rental Managers Association (which we are a member of)

  • Florida's booking activity in the beach areas is recovering however not as fast as other beach markets (Alabama, South Carolina, North Carolina etc)
  • Bookings for stand alone houses are recovering faster than multi unit condo's
  • In all Florida regions, guest stays for bookings within 30 days of check in are the most popular, guests are waiting to book while keeping an eye on any changing virus conditions
  • Shorter duration stays (5 days or less) are most popular, especially long weekends
  • "Drive to market" travelers are the largest segment of travelers vs "Fly to market" with Floridian's being the predominant booking group over the Summer
  • Significant downward pressure has been placed on rental rates where Summer rates for the Central Florida region being down about 30% compared to last year

Orlando Now and Going Forward

  • Issues impacting the Orlando market for bookings over the summer were
    • Mid Summer partial opening of Disney, Universal and other attractions which opened well into the Summer vacation season they were only allowed to open at 25% capacity
    • Masks and distancing was and continues to be strictly enforced within the theme parks which kept many people away due to the discomfort of wearing a mask during rides and in the Florida humidity.
    • In restaurant dining within the theme parks remains closed however take out orders and kiosk purchases remain open
    • Area restaurants and bar capacities were limited to 25% during most of the Summer however the cap has been lifted to 50% with hopes of opening up further in the coming weeks
    • Disney has canceled "Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party Nights", stage shows, fireworks and parades. Disney H2O Glow Nights and Typhoon Lagoon nighttime events have been canceled for the remainder of 2020.
    • Disney Christmas pageantry has been scaled back similar to Halloween Nights
    • Travel restrictions and or bans remain in place for the foreseeable future from the UK, Brazil and Canada which typically accounts for about 30% of vacationer coming to Orlando
    • On average occupancy rates in the Orlando area are running between 12 and 15%
  • Positive News
    • Governor DeSantis has pointed to Disney and Universal as excellent examples of how to re open correctly and has stated that they have not contributed to any measurable increase in Covid cases, he also noted that theme parks could safely accommodate more guests. As long as counts remain steady the plan to move to the next phase, phase 3 re opening is near
    • Recently Florida's hospitalizations and death count rates have not increased even though case counts have
    • United Airlines has added 28 new flights for the Fall season to Orlando, Miami, Jacksonville and Tampa from Northern climates anticipating an uptick in demand
    • We are seeing solid booking requests for 2021 and are actively taking bookings for next year
    • During a recent webinar call a survey determined that there is a lot of pent up demand for people wanting to have fun at theme parks and it is only a matter of time before this wave will start

What iTrip Orlando is Doing

  • We have fully implemented our "Premier Clean" program which is communicated to all arriving guests
  • We continue to defer any non essential maintenance
  • We continue to perform "wellness" visits your properties
  • Dynamic pricing has been fully implemented which adjusts rental rates based on criteria that has been preset by us based on occupancy, we have taken rates down in most cases over the Summer to try to attract
  • Along with Dynamic Pricing we fully implemented another tool called Market Maker in August which benchmarks our properties against our competition and offers rate suggestions based on 50 similar competing properties (as long as there are 50 similar units in a given community/resort etc). This is an excellent tool that we have implemented at no cost to our owners
  • We have signed an agreement with NextPax, a channel partner who is the integration partner between iTrip and some new vacation web portals. NextPax allows us to expand our marketing for vacationers. I have also signed an agreement with Expedia who has expanded their offerings for vacation homes and are now allowing "packaging" with airlines and rental car agencies. This is new and we are in the process of loading all properties through their systems which should be complete within 2 weeks. The next integration we will take on is with HomeToGo.com which will further expand our marketing reach. All of these will be integrated into the iTrip system so actions like guest self booking, rate changes etc will flow automatically to each property we have listed on their web site.
  • We are trialing a partnership with an organization that provides accommodations for traveling health care professionals needing accommodations for 30+ days

Some owners have asked us about converting their property to long term rentals, 6+ months (typically 1 year or more). We have a new company, US Property Management Services, LLC that allows us to offer full service long term management which includes marketing for renters along with maintaining the home. If this is something that you may be considering please let us know and we can provide more detail. have taken the expense and not passed to our owners.
We know this has been a difficult time for everyone and we want you to know we think of you and your families and pray for you often. We appreciate those of you who have provided us with payments to replenish your escrow accounts to keep utility bills paid and properties maintained. We will never stop caring for your property or stop trying to attract vacationers to your homes as possible. While we have lived through these challenges since March and will likely continue through the remainder of 2020 we remain extremely positive about the future....and will be glad when we can say goodbye to 2020.