Coronavirus is obviously on top of everyone’s mind at the moment. No matter where we look or what we see COVID-19 is at the top of all headlines. It is impacting everyone’s lives in different ways but how is it affecting the Orlando vacation rental market and what can we expect as we head into the second half of 2020
Coronavirus impact on Orlando vacation rentals
As with many industries, coronavirus was certainly unexpected but none has been more affected than the worldwide travel industry, from statewide vacation rental bans, flight bans, quarantines, and complete closures of borders. On top of this, the largest draw to Orlando being the theme parks were all shut down for a period of time and now have opened with limited capacity, conventions stopped throughout the state and all attractions came to a standstill. The Orlando vacation rental market took its biggest hit when a statewide vacation rental ban came into effect. Luckily since the reopening of vacation rentals back in early June, we have seen a surge in vacation rental reservations.
Cancellations and Travel Credits
Back in March and April when we were first made aware of Covid-19 many already booked guests who were unable to travel due to flight restrictions and travel bans were no doubt quick to ask for cancellations. Offering a full refund to the guest would initially appear to be the right thing to do but would then negatively impact the other party involved here which are our homeowners.
Are guest being refunded if they are unable to travel
What we have seen in this current climate is many property managers in Orlando have taken the same stance which is to not refund the guest but instead to offer travel credit which the guest can use at a later stage in the same home. This enables the homeowner to at least know a payment is due to them albeit at a later date in the future.
New reservations during COVID
All new reservations being made are fully aware of the current pandemic and all guests are strongly recommended to take out adequate travel insurance such as cancel for any reason. COVID is not a reason to get 100% of this money back from the vacation rental insurance but it certainly offers some security. Many people’s fears these days for booking is what happens if I book now and then just before my arrival we are told to lock down again or are forced to quarantine in my home state for 14 days upon my return. Obviously this scenario is not ideal for anyone who has a job.
How is the market looking now?
Even though the international travel market has come to a standstill with zero imminent bookings coming in from anyone from Europe or the UK, we have seen a large increase in bookings from domestic travel. This makes perfect sense when Americans cannot leave the states and where better to travel to than Orlando in the sunshine state.
What is being done to promote stays in Orlando?
During this Pandemic, we have looked at major trends and evolved our offerings to help encourage guests to still come to Orlando. Even with many theme parks running at reduced capacity we are seeing many guests still wishing to come to Orlando to simply get away from their home environment and relax in a beautiful Disney Villa with its own private pool, games room, and many movie rooms.
Last-minute reservations are certainly on the increase as guests are waiting until the last minute to make a decision on whether they can travel or not. By doing so they can guarantee themselves that they will have no restrictions when they travel.
With the level of cancellations and general slow down with overall bookings during April and May, many owners are seeing a good amount of open occupancy. Owners and property managers who are offering a healthy discount are seeing far more bookings than ones that are not. This is a simple supply and demand issue which we feel will correct itself as we move throughout the year.
Now is the time to look at any offer coming in for your home seriously, there will always be people out there looking to book but will typically want a little bit off due to the situation. As an owner do not worry that by offering a couple of guests a great deal will affect your future booking capability.
For homeowners who may have seen a drop in revenue during these last 3 months may be asking themselves what they should be doing. Should they hold onto their home that now appears to be costing them money or hold onto it and ride the storm? Our view is rentals are certainly coming back and will continue to do so. We are unfortunately also entering the latter half of the year which is always slower than the first half, this is not something that is new and has always been the same. People want to get away and there is no better place than Orlando. If you are seeing no income or bookings coming in then speak with your property manager and make sure you are being as flexible as possible in order to get your home booked. Once things settle down then re-look at your rates but for the time being, cash is king. We also recommend to those homeowners with Mortgages to ask your banks for a deferral of payments to the end of the term.
The future of bookings
As schools start to reopen it will be interesting to see how this impacts seasonal booking trends which typically always coincide with school holidays. If the government makes the decision to stagger school holidays for different states and regions we could see a positive impact on this where rental seasons are extended further into the year.
There is some serious pent up demand out there and we expect the Orlando vacation rental market to explode as we head into 2021 and once the international markets open back up and flights from the UK, Europe, Brazil, and Canada return. From speaking with thousands of guests on a daily basis, they are simply waiting for the day to be able to book a stay in Orlando without the worry of not being allowed to come.
If you are still wishing to get your home sold then feel free to reach out to our Top Villas Realty team or if you have questions regarding rentals and how to get more, feel free to contact us below and a member of our rental team from Top Villas will do all they can to assist.