Based on internal statistics from market leaders and data providers, I strongly believe that vacation rentals will overtake hotels in 2021.

This is an aspirational prediction but it's also based on clear trends. If we have learned anything about the world of late, traditional structures are changing because new movements are surging. So while it may be aspirational, one would be foolish to completely rule it out. Here is the two-part logic behind why the gap is about to close...

Short Term Rentals to Overtake Hotels

Illustration for VRMB by Lydia Hill

Short Term Rentals Accelerating... 

Professional short-term rentals have been gaining ground on hotel marketshare for more than a decade but pacing accelerated as a result of the pandemic because travelers are newly appreciative of the features we've spent decades perfecting. We got lucky that our core product features are now in record-high demand. The luck in timing is everything. 

  • Rural and remote locations to avoid crowds
  • Standalone entryways for privacy
  • Spaciousness for social distancing 
  • Fully-equipped kitchens for meals  

While Hotels Slowly Recover

Professional short term rentals withstood the pandemic, then got stronger thanks to asset-light business models. We were hurt less than hotels in restricted destinations like Hawaii. And we are thriving harder than hotels in destinations that open. Many hotels closed (or are closing in 2021) off a percentage of their inventory in order to account for lay-offs (ie. fewer employees means fewer potential rooms available). And while we never relied on business travel, its temporary demise means the total number of hotel room nights in destinations decreased. This “shrinking of the market” means it requires way less might to overtake hotels in 2021.

Indicators To Track Prediction

The use of the word "overtake" is vague. Are we talking revenue? Room nights? Leisure? One particular destination? Below, we'll begin to post indicators that prove (or disprove) the idea over the coming year. Feel free to share stories or data of interest. 

+ From a conversation with Jamie Lane at AirDNA we imagined leisure travel in the US down 40% for hotels in 2020, which gets leisure hotel revenue down to ~$34 billion. If STR revenue just dropped 7.5% in 2020 and then grew 30% in 2021, that would get STRs to $35 billion. A conservative growth rate for hotels is also 30% in 2021, which would get them back up to $43 billion. Not a huge difference, but a lot conservative assumptions to get there. October 22, 2020

+ October 2020 short-term rental performance, month-over-month comparisons from STR on


  • Occupancy: 70.9 per cent [+26.4 per cent]
  • Average daily rate [ADR]: US$169.97 [+5.3 per cent]
  • Revenue per available room [RevPAR]: US$120.51 [+33 per cent]

Philadelphia’s hotel industry recorded a 49.2 per cent occupancy level for the month.

+ Nashville

  • Occupancy: 58.6 per cent [-2.5 per cent]
  • ADR: US$133.08 [+24.3 per cent]
  • RevPAR: US$78.05 [+21.2 per cent]

Although down month over month, Nashville’s short-term rental occupancy came in well above hotel occupancy in the market, which was up 13.1 per cent to 44.1 per cent.

+ Miami

  • Occupancy: 83.3 per cent [+2.1 per cent]
  • ADR: US$117.89 [+12.9 per cent]
  • RevPAR: US$98.24 [+15.3 per cent]


What Should You Do? 

It's important to remember that one dynamic makes this all possible: the power of Limited Edition (being you). Staying small and acting uniquely gives you the advantage to pull this off. Every step you take in the direction of commodity lessens your grasp. This proclamation should mean nothing other than validation for your instincts and hard work all these years.

Now is the time for deep work and listing site non-dependence!

Let's get after it! 

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