Here at Beyond Pricing we’ve been examining numerous indicators to develop a better understanding of the magnitude and the impact of Coronavirus across the vacation and short term rental industries. We and many others have been monitoring occupancy, cancellations and booking lead times, just to name a few, and we have seen these fluctuate significantly over the past month. While these are all great pieces of the puzzle to help us understand the trends brought about by Coronavirus, at the end of the day we all want to know how it will impact our coffers, and the many lives and families dependent on our businesses.
Examining actual anonymized revenue pacing by markets, as we do below, can give context to how your area is coping with the challenges related to Coronavirus. This will help all of us anticipate the lows and (thankfully) some of the highs we are seeing, allowing us to make better business planning decisions in these turbulent times.
Hilton Head is having a challenging April as the RBC Heritage Tournament was rescheduled for mid-June. Revenue pacing as of the same time last year is about 50% behind for May, but begins to regain ground over the summer, and currently June is 36% behind and July is just 11% behind. Hopefully, July continues to rebound and this, combined with the strong August that we are seeing, could limit the damage of Coronavirus to the Island.
With the postponement of Coachella that was originally scheduled to take place in April, revenue pacing in April for Palm Springs is down 82% so far and unlikely to gain any ground back. However, the outlook for Palms Springs brightens as it seems to be a popular destination for “Angelenos” as they escape quarantine in Los Angeles. With Coachella now taking place in October this year, revenue for that month is already 314% higher than last year, though we have our doubts that it will reach the levels of revenue we traditionally see in April.
South Florida Gulf Coast
In the South Florida Gulf Coast, 2020 started strong, but like most markets it was hit hard in mid-March. Revenue pacing for 2020, while drastically behind in April, is only slightly behind in May and June, before actually pacing slightly ahead in from July to November. It seems that travelers to this area are almost all choosing to keep their itineraries, or push them back a few months. Overall, for all of 2020 South Florida Gulf Coast is only pacing 3% down from 2019, primarily due to a strong January and February, as well as a fast pace in the second part of the year.
The Florida Panhandle has been hit quite hard by Coronavirus, notwithstanding the beaches were slow to close down. March revenue came in about half of that in 2019, though bookings for Spring Break were on the lighter side even leading up to the outbreak. As of now, the Panhandle is pacing 39% behind last year, with no months pacing ahead. Being hit so hard we expect a rebound to happen quickly, but hopefully it comes in time to salvage the year.
Florida Panhandle by Bedroom Size
Taking a look to see year over year revenue pacing in the Panhandle by bedrooms size tells an interesting story. The lower the bedroom size, the further behind in pacing it is year over year. For June and July two bedrooms are pacing 45% behind last year while 6 bedrooms are only 26% behind. However, 2-3 bedrooms, which are the furthest behind, account for around 57% of the market. This is why overall pacing for the area is so faltering.
The variability in median booking lead time between bedroom sizes is also quite wide, with 50 days for a 2 bedroom versus 115 for a 6 bedroom. Given all of this, it is probably the case that a higher proportion of reservations were already on the books for larger bedroom listings before the impact of Coronavirus, and those guests looking for smaller listings (short lead time) have been scared off or aren’t allowed to travel.
The pent up demand of these "scared off" travelers will hopefully rebound quickly as Florida wades through this crisis. We have already seen reservations for the Panhandle tick up slowly after bottoming out on April 5th (though still around 15% of their pre-Corona pace), so the worst should be behind us.
The short term ramifications of overall low booking pace and high cancellations are causing PMs to review their cash flow and budgets. As an industry, from March until the end of the year we are pacing 35% behind last year with a larger portion of revenue coming later in the year. This makes it harder for business to survive in the short term.
However, we can see that in many markets April is likely to be the most painful month, and that either because of delayed vacations or rescheduled reservations the second part of the year can bring us some hope of stabilization as travelers are showing some trust and enthusiasm for staying at vacation rentals. As always, we at Beyond Pricing remain on high alert as a recovery unfolds so that our partners and industry as a whole is ready to capitalize.