AirDNA forecasts 2022 return to major US cities

US: With the United States on the way to recovery, pent-up demand for travel is accelerating US short-term rentals into expansionary territory, according to short-term rental data and analytics provider, AirDNA, in its first-ever US Short-Term Rental Economic Outlook. 

Short-term rental performance has exceeded all expectations in 2021, as demand has surged in small-town and destination markets throughout the United States, even surpassing 2019 levels in April 2021.

Jamie Lane, VP of research at AirDNA, said: “The short-term rental sector is dependent on discretionary spending and dissimilarly to other recessions US consumer incomes have remained high throughout the pandemic. This combined with pent-up demand bodes well for a gradual return to normalcy, granted there are no emerging Covid-19 variants and vaccine uptake remains high.”

The revival of the great American cities

While unprecedented demand in small city / rural and destination / resort markets dominated 2020 and 2021, 2022 will focus on a return to the great American cities.

Through April of 2021, demand was still down over 40 per cent compared to 2019 in urban areas. But, as more people are vaccinated and attractions begin to reopen, AirDNA expects urban travel to begin to recover in the back half of 2021, leading to a full recovery by 2023.

AirDNA CEO Scott Shatford said: “The main risk to major US cities is Americans travelling abroad before the USA welcomes back international guests, tipping the scales against cities like New York and San Francisco where international tourism is historically as much as 30 per cent of total demand.”

Will travel flexibility be hampered by the reopening of schools and offices?

While it is unlikely that increased flexibility has changed the short-term rental sector forever, as more companies move towards hybrid models, extended trips will be much more common than pre-pandemic as travellers combine business and leisure trips.

In Q1 2021, the average length of stay was four days — a full 25 per cent higher than prior to the pandemic. As leisure and business travel return to these cities, the length of stay will shorten but remain materially higher than 2019 levels.

While the industry will somewhat normalise with the return of international travel, the short-term rental sector has strengthened consumer trust and sentiment during the pandemic, which will only strengthen its position within the lodging market.