Vacation Rental Outlook 2019: 6 Predictions from Experts
The New Year is almost here, and with it comes our vacation rental forecast for 2019. What are guests looking for in a vacation home? What’s hot in condo rentals and beach rentals? What tactics should property owners try for the greatest return on their investment? Here are six top trends and predictions for owners to watch in the Ocean City, Maryland, 2019 vacation rental market.
1. Bigger (and bigger-feeling) homes
More and more, people booking a vacation rental want room to move—to gather for holiday or milestone celebrations, to give adults and children their own separate space and more. This is playing out for the in a trend toward larger rental homes, especially as multigenerational travel becomes more popular.
For extended family groups, a larger vacation rental property makes sense, according to Forbes writer Christopher Elliott, who extolled the virtues of a California wine country estate that sleeps 10. Such a property might feature outdoor living areas for drinks and conversation, outdoor kitchen areas for group cooking, a pool, onsite spa and more.
Fortunately, you don’t have to own a palace to give guests room to spread out and feel comfortable. With beach rentals, condo rentals and beyond, you can create multiple sitting areas in the space you have. For Ocean City, Maryland, vacation homes, consider marketing such areas as:
- A game room for those rainy days when the kids can’t go to the beach
- A crafts station for making art and jewelry out of collected shells
- A quiet space for napping children (and adults!)
- A patio for enjoying a crab feast
- A porch for ice cream socials and wine tastings
If you’re considering making renovations to your property, think about opening up kitchens and dining rooms for more expansive gathering areas.
2. The Millennial traveler
In addition to large, multifamily gatherings, be on the lookout for young singles and couples seeking accommodations for events, sightseeing or just getting away from it all.
Millennials (think later 20s, early 30s) are proving to be avid travelers. Many have stayed at condos and beach houses with their families growing up. They’re comfortable both branching out from hotels for vacation lodging and finding and booking these stays online. So they’re familiar with vacation homes and ready to create some new experiences on their own.
How can property owners adapt to this trend in the vacation rentals market? Offer short term rentals that accommodate entry-level budgets and fewer vacation days. To accommodate large groups of friends on vacation, consider offering multiple properties in the same complex. And treat these younger travelers to the amenities they crave. Beyond the must-have of lightning-fast Wi-Fi, with ample bandwidth for YouTube and streaming content, consider:
- Spaces ideal for socializing
- Online/mobile services for booking, billing and beyond
- Access to bike, scooter and car sharing stations and services
Be sure to mention local venues in your descriptions. If a Millennial traveler remembers a specific boardwalk, beach or crab shack from a childhood vacation in Ocean City, Maryland, you’re likely to jog a fond memory—and possibly inspire a booking.
3. Local outdoor and dining attractions
Along with Argentina, Italy and Egypt’s Nile Valley, Lonely Planet listed two nature sites in the Eastern United States—Tennessee’s Great Smoky Mountains and the Catskills— among its top destinations for 2019.
This trend is good news for the Ocean City, MD, vacation rental market as well. Travelers looking for adventure will find themselves just a short drive away from:
- The famous ponies of Assateague Island and National Seashore
- The boating and camping of Pocomoke River State Park
- Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge, recently named “One of the 10 Best Amazing Places for Wildlife” by USA Today
After a busy day of exploring, vacationers will be looking for culinary adventures as well. Increasingly, travelers of all ages have become discerning foodies, and fortunately Ocean City’s food and beverage scene has grown to accommodate their palates and Instagram feeds
New venues to consider promoting include:
- Dry 85 and Red Red Wine Bar, two branches of popular Annapolis restaurants featuring bourbon and wine
- Southern-focused “barn to beach” restaurant/bar the Surfing Rooster
- Tex-Mex and Mexican eateries Loca Madre and the Bayside Cantina
For committed foodies, the OC Foodie Tour provides a 3.5 hour walk through Ocean City dining past and present, with samplings at five locally owned restaurants. The July Greek festival treats travelers to local dolmathes, keftedes, spanakopita and more. And Fall Restaurant Week offers fixed-price menus for the range of budgets and palates.
4. Reliability and consistency
In a world full of apps, texts and tech gadgets, customer service matters more than ever—especially in the vacation rental industry.
“Booking a vacation rental is more of a ‘considered purchase’ than booking a hotel room,” in the words of a report recapping this year’s VRMA Conference.
So don’t forget the basics, like giving customers what they expect in terms of quality, amenities and service as they book a vacation home year after year.
This can mean:
- Dependable upkeep with prompt, effective repairs
- Consistent (and well-functioning) conveniences such as key-based entry and digital thermostats
- Perks guests can look forward to stay after stay, such as free gym passes, mid-week cleanings and grocery delivery services
Guests book a vacation rental to decrease—not add to—the stress in their lives. They want to know what to expect as they book a reservation, settle in, enjoy the amenities and wrap up their trips.
It’s important that you never forget the human element: the people making your guests feel at home. Make sure you choose a property management partner that consistently wows vacationing guests with great customer service, which hospitality consultant Debby Hudspith defines as: “Knowing why the customer is there in the first place, making them feel important, building a relationship, responding to requests out of the ordinary and ensuring someone is always available for them, no matter which department.”
5. Value for the vacation dollar
As more and more travelers vacation in large groups, they’re discovering that splitting the cost of a vacation home is a great way to get extra space at an affordable price. Remember that California wine estate mentioned earlier? The rental cost, averaged out across 10 people, comes down to $68 per person per night—far less expensive than most hotels in the area could offer.
In our opinion, typical renters aren’t always on a quest for luxury at the very highest end. They’re on a quest for value. And owners of all sizes and types of properties—from condo rentals to beach home rentals—can fulfill this quest by giving their guests a little extra bang for their buck. For property owners in Ocean City, Maryland, this includes not only space to relax but upgraded amenities and complimentary treats.
Need inspiration? Successful Meetings highlighted:
- Record players, with music guests can “check out” from a vinyl library
- A live goldfish as the official property pet
- Cocktail packages delivered by a personal bartender
Special skincare products, linens and robes have been a rising trend in the hospitality industry overall—especially when they come with a unique story or local hook. But you don’t have to break the bank to make your guests feel special.
Consider providing them with practical perks like blenders and coffeemakers, water bowls and treat baskets for pet owners, or bottled water and energy bars for sports and outdoor enthusiasts. Or try homey treats like fruit baskets, plates of cookies, or homemade soups and breads.
6. A shift to direct bookings
At the VRMA International Conference, which explored the rental market for 2019, several managers of large properties reported a decreased, even eliminated, reliance on online travel agencies (OTAs). Customer service and ability to communicate with guests throughout the booking process were big reasons. And if vacation rental property managers are feeling this difference, you can bet that guests, are, too.
So as the new year begins, remember that you as a local owner of a vacation home can offer many advantages that a global OTA or customer service rep in a faraway call center cannot. This includes things like:
- Who to contact for a spur-of-the-moment crab fest—or a last-minute registration for the holiday fun run
- What parks and beaches are most kid-friendly—and what nightclubs have lined up the hottest new DJs
- What local shops have the best deals on beachwear—or the best under-the-radar happy hours on the boardwalk
- When to see the wild horses at Assateague Island National Seashore—or to take to the seas for the best white marlin
- How to catch crabs in the bay—or spot the most elusive gulls and loons during a bird watching hike
And as more travel and hospitality trends emerge for Ocean City, Maryland, vacation homes in 2019, you can be sure that Vantage will be there on the forefront, ready to help you delight your guests and position your properties for success.
Let’s start a great new year together! To make the most of your Ocean City vacation property in 2019, visit our Vacation Rental Management Services page — then contact Vantage Vacation Rentals at 410.723.1780 x 5 or ListingInfo@VantageOC.com.