According to the latest data from Vrbo, a combination of factors is starting a summer vacation home booking spree.

Travelers are locking in properties in top summer destinations earlier in 2021 compared to the same time period in previous years. Currently, less than half of vacation homes in some top destinations are still available for July, a more than 25% increase in demand year-over-year.

Vrbo’s president, Jeff Hurst, points to a confluence of pandemic-influenced travel behaviors, sentiments and circumstances creating this rush, including:

Optimism around the vaccine: With the vaccine roll-out underway and health officials saying most people should be able to access the vaccine by late summer, families naturally want to make up for lost time and reconnect with loved ones again.

Planning double-cations: The growing confidence in being able to travel has led some families to already plan multiple trips this year. In fact, 44% of U.S. travelers say they will take more trips this year [2].
Booking longer stays: Families are planning longer trips as 39% of travelers say their next vacation will be at least a week and 55% of families say they would spend more on longer stays [3]. These extended stays are filling up calendar availability and mean travelers may have fewer available dates and properties to choose from.

Keeping it domestic: With constantly changing restrictions on international travel, families are swapping their overseas plans with domestic trips. This is driving increased demand in U.S. destinations compared to previous years and further affects the number of available vacation homes in highly sought-after locales.

Flexcations going strong: Flexcations, a travel behavior that emerged in 2020 that blends work, school and family vacation time, are expected to continue in 2021. With many adults still working from home and employers announcing more flexible policies around remote work, families have the freedom to keep flexcationing. A survey conducted for Vrbo’s 2021 Trend Report shows that 67% who tried it last year would do it again.

“In years past, we’ve recommended that families book their summer vacations on Vrbo by late April to stay ahead of the curve, but this year, there are several reasons why families are eager and ready to book,” said Jeff Hurst, Vrbo president. “These signs are telling us that families should start looking for the perfect vacation home now before the selection and available dates become more limited.”

How Families Can Make Planning Easier

Vrbo offers new tools to help families planning a longer trip find properties with discounts for extended stays of a week plus or a month plus. Many hosts already offer these discounts, and Vrbo has highlighted these properties with a discount banner. Later this month, travelers will also be able to use a new search filter to find properties with extended stay discounts.

Additionally, Vrbo will soon release a new polling feature for Trip Boards that makes it even easier for families to plan their summer trips. Trip Board polls will enable everyone in the family to participate in the decision-making process on where to stay so they can quickly book their favorite properties before someone else does.

Opting for Flexibility

Families booking far in advance for summer trips should review and understand a property’s cancellation policy before booking, and they can use the “Free Cancellation” filter to search for properties that offer more flexible cancellation policies. The most flexible option allows travelers to cancel their reservation up to 14 days before check-in for a full refund, and more than half a million Vrbo properties already offer flexible cancellation policies.

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