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AirDNA: Occupancy dips but optimism emerges for Q3 / Q4

US: In its latest Monthly Review, short-term rental data and analytics provider, AirDNA, has reported that, for the first time since April 2021, demand for US short-term rentals came in below 2019 levels, at -0.9 per cent in August.

The outlook for fall / autumn and winter remains optimistic, with short-term rental demand up 18 per cent compared to the same time in 2019, and 88 per cent higher than in 2020.

In general, people are booking well ahead for their holiday travel this year, according to AirDNA. The week of Thanksgiving is booking 38 per cent higher than in 2019 and 85 per cent higher than 2020.

AirDNA CEO Scott Shatford said: “The surge in fall bookings shows that people don’t want to risk losing the most desirable properties for their family get-togethers. After a high booking summer, supply in top destinations is still not enough to satiate existing demand, even at higher rates.”

Average daily rates [ADRs] remain elevated, averaging $279 in August, up 18.5 per cent relative to 2019.

The rate of growth has slowed in recent months, though, after peaking at 23 per cent in May 2021. Rates began rising in the summer of 2020 as lockdowns initially ended and recovery began, and travellers were choosing larger and more luxurious properties which further pushed the average rate higher.

AirDNA reported record high occupancy for US short-term rentals earlier this year [Credit: AirDNA]

When will travellers return to the city? 

A return to in-person work and school for many may be impacting the high demand in rural and leisure-oriented destinations where guests previously looked to escape the city.

In markets like Big Bear and Coachella Valley, California, the heightened demand growth noticeably slowed in August. Big Bear had a demand growth of 80 per cent back in May 2021, but only registered an increase of a “modest” 32 per cent in August.

Still, it does not look like most of the large cities will attract pre-Covid demand levels until international travel returns. These markets include New York [-54 per cent], Boston [-53.9 per cent], and Los Angeles [-51.7 per cent], which are traditionally highly dependent on international demand with more than 30 per cent of their nights booked by foreign visitors.

Jamie Lane, VP of research at AirDNA, said: “The US typically gets more inbound international travellers than there are Americans travelling overseas, with most of those visits in the major gateway cities. With rising vaccination rates and the US lifting restrictions on fully-vaccinated international travellers in November, this winter should mark a turning point in the recovery of urban travel demand.”

AirDNA’s head of data solutions, Alejandro Gomez Losada, will take part in ShortTermRentalz’ upcoming RockSTRz webinar on Tuesday 28 September [4pm BST] on “Meet the property managers: Will urban tourism return?”. Register for free at this link to join the session live and receive an on-demand recording.