U.S. Vacation Rentals 2009 - 2014: A Market Reinvented

U.S. Vacation Rentals 2009 - 2014: A Market Reinvented Published May 2013 Analysts: Douglas Quinby, Maggie Rauch


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The rapid evolution of the U.S. vacation rental industry has captured the attention of travel companies, media and investors, and inspired a surge of traveler interest in online vacation rental. As the real estate and hospitality industries rebound from several years of economic uncertainty, disruptive new entrants, shifting vacation rental technology, and rising consumer expectations are shaking up the vacation rental landscape.

Phocuswright's U.S. Vacation Rentals 2009-2014: A Market Reinvented provides a comprehensive look at the U.S. vacation rental market. The report tracks the dramatic changes that have reshaped vacation rental over the past several years and identifies the trends that will impact the industry in the years to come.

Topics include:

  • Sizing and forecasts for the U.S. vacation rental total and online markets (2007-2014)
  • Key players and market structure
  • Characteristics of vacation rental guests and trips
  • The evolving dynamics of rental-by-owner (RBO) and professionally managed market segments
  • The future of online marketing, transactions, and payment
  • Online shopping behavior and the role of search
  • Technology challenges, opportunities and trends
Purchase Phocuswright's U.S. Vacation Rentals 2009-2014: A Market Reinvented to understand and leverage the sweeping changes that are transforming the U.S. vacation rental marketplace.

49 Pages

Introduction and Overview
What is a Vacation Rental?
About This Study
Key Findings
Key Terms and Definitions

Vacation Rentals: Background and State of the Category

Size and Structure of the Market
Supply, Demand and Revenue
Management Method: RBO & VRMC
Traveler's Choice: Destinations, Vacations Style and Trip Spend
Other Characteristics of Vacation Rental Trips

The Vacation Rental Decision
The Vacation Rental Guest: Who They Are and Why They Book
Homeowners: A New Breed
The Changing VRMC Landscape

Online Market and Forecasts Not Booking, but Looking: Online Research

Online Distribution: New Models, Challenges and Consumer Expectations
The Rise of Online Listing Sites
Distribution: Rock or Hard Place?
Distribution: Square Peg or Round Hole?
Booking, Spaces and Social: The Airbnb Phenomenon

Managers in the Middle: The VRMC Decision for Homeowners and Travelers
The Homeowner's Decision
No End to Disruption
Traveler Perceptions

Partners and Sponsors


U.S. Online and Total Market by Segment, 2012

Size of the Market 2012: Supply, Demand & Revenue

Key Market Metrics, 2007 and 2012

Supply and Demand by Management Method, 2012

Share of Accommodation Type by Demand (Trips) and Supply

Share of Available (Supply) and Rented (Demand) Unit Nights by Region

Vacation Style for Last Vacation Rental Stay

Vacation Rental Consideration Among Leisure Travelers

Reasons for Choosing Vacation Rental Over Other Accommodation Types

Number of Years Renting

VRMC Population by Number of Units

VRMC Current Offering or Use of Select Technology

U.S. Vacation Rental Online and Total Market and Online as a Share of Total Rental Revenue, 2007-2014

Mean Length of Stay, Rental Spend and ADR by Method of Finding and Booking Last Vacation Rental

Information Sources for Researching Vacation Rentals, 2008 and 2012

Monthly Unique Visits to Vacation Rental Listing and VRMC Website Categories, November 2010 - August 2012

Average Monthly Unique Visits to the Nine Largest Vacation Rental Category Websites, January - August 2011 and 2012, and Average Annual Change

Vacation Rental Market Revenue by Channel, 2012

VRMC Distribution Economics

Importance of Website Features in Researching Vacation Rentals

Primary Residence Renting by Vacation Type and Number of Years Renting

Services Offered to Rental Guests by VRMCs

Reasons RBO Owners Do Not Use a VRMC

Reasons Owners Use a VRMC

Homeowner Use of Management Method (RBO vs. VRMC)

Preference for Working with Homeowner vs. VRMC in Booking a Vacation Rental

Attributes/Features of Rental Stay - Association With RBO vs. VRMC

To ensure that the study captured all stakeholder perspectives, Phocuswright employed a 360-degree approach, conducting a mix of surveys and in-depth interviews with consumers, vacation rental management companies (VRMCs), homeowners, technology providers, and travel intermediaries (vacation rental websites, online travel agencies, traditional travel agencies and wholesalers). Phocuswright also partnered with leading web analytics firm Experian Hitwise to conduct website traffic and pattern analysis.

Phocuswright conducted three extensive surveys, targeting consumers, vacation rental homeowners and VRMCs.

Consumer Surveys

Population: U.S. adult travelers at least 22 years old who have stayed at a vacation rental property at least once in the past two years, and had a role in the vacation rental trip planning process
Rental properties include homes, condos, villas, cottages, timeshares (as used by renter, not owner)
Source: Global Market Insite (GMI); 1,072 qualified responses
Results are projectable at a 95% confidence level with a 3% margin of error


Population: Vacation rental management companies
192 qualified respondents sourced through study partners: Vacation Rental Managers Association, HomeAway, LeisureLink, VacationRoost
Results are projectable at a 95% confidence level with a 7.1% margin of error

Vacation Rental Homeowners

Population: Individual vacation rental home (unit) owners
411 via independent online panel Global Market Insite (GMI) and 289 via HomeAway
Both independent (GMI) and combined samples used selectively. The combined sample (identified as "weighted") is weighted to reflect the mix of homeowners by rental management model from the natural incidence occurring via the GMI sample:

41.5% RBO
32.5% VRMC
26% dual method (both RBO and VRMC)

GMI results are projectable at a 95% confidence level with a 4.9% margin of error


VRMC Interviews: In-depth interviews conducted with 10 select vacation rental management companies (VRMCs) representing a range of sizes and geographic locations
Homeowner Interviews: In-depth interviews conducted with 10 select homeowners representing an even mix of rental management models: three rental by owner (RBO); three who use vacation rental management companies (VRMCs); four who use both methods (RBO and VRMC)
Technology and Distribution Interviews: A series of executive interviews across technology and distribution companies spanning vacation rentals and travel, including: vacation rental listing websites, online travel agencies and tour operators; property management technology and distribution system providers for VRMCs; and emerging technology and online players within the vacation rental arena

Market Sizing
Phocuswright designed a multifaceted approach to market sizing by supply, demand and revenue. Three components comprise vacation rental sizing:

Supply: Vacation rental units and available unit nights located in the U.S.
Demand: Nights those units are occupied
Value: Rental revenue generated from those units

Phocuswright generated sizing estimates from surveys, company interviews and a comprehensive review of company reports and available third-party data sources.

Where possible, this report presents segmentation of the market by several key areas:

Unit type (single-family home versus condo, etc.)

Vacation style (beach/ocean, mountain, golf, ski, etc.)
Management method (VRMC versus RBO)
Booking method (online versus offline)

Traffic Stream Analysis with Experian Hitwise
Phocuswright and Experian Hitwise jointly evaluated 300 websites in the vacation rental marketplace. Phocuswright developed a custom vacation rental category of 300 websites from more than 600 URLs and created two subcategories: vacation rental listing websites (22 URLs), and VRMCs (278 URLs). Sites were included based upon their relevance to vacation rentals according to the Phocuswright definition and size (measurable, monthly unique visits).

WyndhamVacationRentals.com and TripAdvisor.com/vacationrentals are included in the aggregate category rankings, but are excluded from individual site rankings due to limited historical data. They are both among the 10 largest vacation rental sites as of November 2012.

Hitwise Methodology
Hitwise's proprietary software analyzes website logs via Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to develop online activity metrics including page requests, visits, average visit length and search terms. This data is augmented with data provided by opt-in panel partners to form aggregated analysis of consumer Internet usage. For more on the Hitwise methodology, visit: http://www.experian.com/hitwise/hitwise-methodology.html

US $995 
CA $1,310 • £777 • €901
FREE for Open Access Subscribers
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