By Craig Shawn Williamson

As I write this post in early April, people are staying inside their homes around the globe due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We are stuck in front of our laptops and tablets, trying to work and take care of children at the same time. It’s no surprise that I’m seeing a great deal of interest in vacation rental property as everyone travels in their minds to a better future.

As an extension of overall VRP growth, we are seeing the major hotel companies embrace the single-family home vacation rental property model. They’re doing partnerships with rental management companies and building portfolios of luxurious vacation properties near their resorts. Even before the terrible virus emerged, the travel and vacation industries were embracing the single-family short-term rental model because consumers are in love with it.

What’s happened here regarding current events was predicted years ago by Bill Gates and others, who said that a novel virus was going to end up impacting portions of the population and that we would need to mitigate it. He was right, and we’re not going to move backward now. It’s difficult to predict where the world will go from here, but we now know you can pick up a virus or infection anywhere from anybody. Once we get this pandemic under control, there may end up being a coronavirus season just as is there is a flu season. Behavior will shift.

So, how will this new reality impact our vacations?

Well, it will change how we make decisions about where we go, where we stay, and what we’ll do once we get there. In the short-term, you may see more regional travel as people avoid planes. This idea that crowds are not a good thing is going to imbed in our minds. Over time, people will fly again. But they’ll take a closer look at the reality of huge hotels and resorts and perhaps think twice about them. You’ve got a community pool in these places, a common lobby, and elevators that have thousands of people through them each day. You don’t really know how well your room has been cleaned, and there could be 300 people moving through one hotel room in a single year.

Vacation distancing will be an important travel trend in 2020 and beyond.

A Better Option? A VRP Stay

There are needs and a reason for big hotels, but a lot of people with families are going to be looking at other options when it’s time to get away—options such a vacation home rental. The reason is simple: with a home rental, you have your own living room, dining room, swimming pool, sun deck, and more. A vacation home may have four different members and eight renters in one year instead of 200 or 300. The property receives a much more thorough and deep cleaning in between each rental, and its owners are personally invested in its maintenance and safety.

Of course, we are talking here about lowering the statistical probability of virus transmission via smart vacation choices, not eliminating the risk entirely. This is important to keep in mind.

But in this changing world, it will matter if your family chooses a lodging option in which they are able to enjoy more space. A vacation home setup means you don’t have a parade of strangers walking by your front door like you would at a hotel. You can stay in private gated communities; you don’t have public amenities open to the general public. Hotels have public restaurants, shops, and other common spaces, meaning that in addition to guests there is a high level of general traffic. This traffic is a good thing for the hotel as it represents increased daily revenues. But it may not be ideal for your family.

Questions to Ask

Again, it’s all about mitigation of risk—not elimination. So, smart questions include:

  • How many people touched the buttons on the elevator today?
  • Was there someone to wipe off those buttons, railings, and doorknobs? How often?
  • How many people are coughing in common areas throughout the day?
  • What’s the property ventilation system like?
  • Is there a buffet for meals? How sanitary is it?
  • Is the food court crowded? How often is it cleaned?
  • Who accesses the pool? The playground equipment?

All of those elements add up as you’re going through the experience of that hotel in your mind. For those with families that include older individuals or immuno-compromised persons, they are going to be looking at mitigating their exposure to the general public and to large groups. One of the ways to do that is by investing in exactly the product that’s been already growing in popularity—a single-family vacation home. Even the smallest details help: Instead of going into a crowded lobby to get your key, for example, you may be able to pick it up at the gate or simply use an entry code.

Welcome to a better way to vacation.

There is a lower statistical possibility of coming in contact with viruses and bacteria that can lead to illnesses in a single-family vacation home, or in a single entrance condo model, than there is in a massive hotel with 1,100 rooms, central hallways, and massive reception areas and lobbies.

Vacation Distancing

You won’t stop vacationing because you would rather not go out in public. Instead, you’ll simply take more care in choosing what kind of destination you visit. Where are you going? Is it a city? A cluster of people gathered together in a resort in a remote area?

Where are you staying, sleeping, eating, swimming?

If you want to still take a vacation and you’re still social distancing, your best bet is to take a look at a vacation rental property. Still take the vacation, if you’re smart about it. Work with companies that are being sensitive about your concerns regarding sanitation. If you’re trusting your family’s health to a management company’s approach to property care, you need to be sure your vacation spaces are truly clean. Everything is deep cleaned between every stay, and it’s not enough if the property simply looks good and smells lemony. It has to be sanitary.

Every company in the vacation industry is not the same, so be sure to ask questions about how they do things.

It’s All About Smart Choices

Next, think about what you do on that vacation. What kind of sports will you play? What kind of clubs will you visit? Golf, or other outdoor sports that provide space away from others, or are played in very small groups? Will there be hundreds of feet between you and everybody else? Make selections that are wise regarding your activities. Deep-sea fishing with your family is probably better than some other options, as it puts you at a distance from others. Tennis is probably fine. Kayaking? Two thumbs up.

Vacation distancing is simply the act of applying the same general policies that are being recommended in our daily lives right now to your vacation. And it’s not just a smart way to plan things during this crisis. This is bringing a methodology to mind that should be used anyway. We aren’t going back to doing everything the same way we did before.

To learn more about your options for vacation distancing, please get in touch with me. The world is not going to stop traveling, but it will start traveling smarter.

As you plan ahead, be sure to check out my new book LIFE AS A VACATION®: The Ultimate Buyer’s Guide to Vacation Rental Property: 2020 Edition.