Have you listed your properties on a vacation rental metasearch engine? If you haven’t, you could be missing out on valuable bookings.  

Metasearches have seen an increase in popularity over the past few months as travellers search for the most cost-effective accommodations options. 

In the midst of an economic crisis, and with the holidays just around the corner, vacation rental guests want value for money, flexible cancellation options, and a transparent booking process. Metasearches, where travellers can compare listings from various OTAs side by side, provide all of that. 

HomeToGo is one of the metasearch engines connected to the Rentals United vacation rental channel manager. It functions as a new-generation booking platform, combining the power of a large international OTA with a direct booking experience for property owners and managers. 

HomeToGo is a consistent top-performing sales channel at Rentals United, and many of our most successful property managers distribute their listings to it. 

In this blog post, we’re going to share with you some fascinating stats about travel to the UK and Spain that our friends at HomeToGo have compiled for us. They illustrate how travellers’ booking habits have changed since last year and highlight the most prominent booking trends of 2020.

We’ll uncover trends in:  

  • Average length of stay
  • Average booking window
  • Search interest per destination
  • Top amenities
  • Last-minute bookings
  • Average booking value

Let’s dive into it!

Average length of stay 2020

Longer stays are a popular prediction for 2021. Industry experts say that in the aftermath of the pandemic, travellers will take fewer trips and stay longer. 

However, for now, that doesn’t appear to be the case. According to HomeToGo’s internal statistics, the average length of stay has actually slightly decreased compared to last year. 

In the UK, the average length of stay guests searched for was 8 nights, which is a 14% increase from last year. However, the average length of stay that guests ended up booking was only 7 nights, a 9% decrease year on year. 

Similarly, in Spain, the average length of stay that guests searched for was 9 nights, just like in 2019. However, the average length of stay booked was 11 nights, down 21% from last year. 

Average length of stay

Average booking window 2020

Another interesting finding is how the average booking window (or the time between booking and check-in) has evolved since last year. 

In the UK, the average booking window was 90 days, a 17% increase from last year. It appears that the UK has been exempt from the rule that travellers wait until the last minute to book their trips because of the current uncertainty of travel.

On the contrary, in Spain, the average booking window was 92 days, 9% down from last year’s average. It’s likely due to the difficulty of international travel and the domestic mobility restrictions introduced by the government, which made it difficult to plan ahead. 

Average book-to-check-in

Destinations with the biggest increase in YoY search interest

Despite the difficulty of travel this year, some destinations proved to be more popular than in 2019. For example, in the UK, search interest in properties in West Wales increased by 74%. Fermanagh and North Down, Northern Ireland were 44% and 25% more popular than last year, respectively.

It could be that these destinations gained in search popularity because guests unable to travel internationally started looking for rural hideaways in nearby destinations.

UK destinations with the biggest increase in YoY search interest with a minimum of 1,000 searches

  • West Wales +74%
  • Fermanagh, Northern Ireland +44%
  • North Down, Northern Ireland +25%
  • Derry, Northern Ireland +10%
  • Swansea, Wales +9%

As for Spain, the Port of Barcelona had the biggest increase in search interest, growing by 60% year on year. Cala Anguila in Mallorca was also popular with 44% more searches this year then in 2019. 

Spain destinations with the biggest increase in YoY search interest with a minimum of 1,000 searches

  • Port of Barcelona +60%
  • Cala Anguila +44%
  • Asturias +22%
  • Navarra +14%
  • Cantabria +9%

Destinations with the biggest decrease in YoY search interest

Other destinations were not so fortunate. In the UK, Magherafelt and Ballymoney, Northern Ireland were each 56% less searched than last year. Rhondda Cynon Taff and Torfaen, Wales lost 58% and 59% in search interest respectively, while Dungannon and South Tyrone, Northern Ireland dropped by 61%.

UK destinations with the biggest decrease in YoY search interest with a minimum of 1,000 searches

  • Magherafelt, Northern Ireland -56%
  • Ballymoney, Northern Ireland -56%
  • Rhondda Cynon Taff, Wales -58%
  • Torfaen, Wales -59%
  • Dungannon and South Tyrone, Northern Ireland -61%

In Spain, Valencia’s El Carmen district lost the most search interest with a 26% decrease. Interestingly, this is less than half the loss that the UK’s worst-hit region suffered. 

Spain destinations with the biggest decrease in YoY search interest with a minimum of 1,000 searches

  • Canary Islands -22%
  • Melilla -22%
  • Galicia -22%
  • Andalusia -24%
  • El Carmen -26%

Top amenities

As travellers’ needs and habits change, so do the most popular vacation rental amenities. 

In the UK, top amenities in 2020 include pet-friendly rentals, pools, internet, washing machines and kitchens.

In Spain, pools lead by a large margin, followed by pet-friendly rentals, internet, air conditioning and terraces.

Top amenities in the UK and Spain

Last-minute bookings

It makes sense that in a year filled with so much uncertainty, travellers would hold out until the last minute to make travel plans. Consequently, last-minute bookings have been on the rise. 

In the UK, Sheffield and Little Hampton had the shortest booking windows, with 17 and 18 days respectively.

UK destinations with the shortest booking window

  • Sheffield (17 days)
  • Little Hampton (18 days)
  • Hull (20 days)
  • Watford (20 days)
  • Northampton (35 days)

In Spain, the regions of Extremadura and Castile-La Mancha had the shortest booking window of 38 days – which is still double the UK’s shortest booking window.

Spain destinations with the shortest booking window

  • Extremadura (38 days)
  • Castile-La Mancha (38 days)
  • Castile and León (41 days)
  • Community of Madrid (42 days)
  • La Rioja (43 days)

Top-booked destinations and average booking value in 2020

Cities like London and regions like Catalonia retained their position as top-booked destinations. In the UK, Edinburgh and Brighton were also popular, and so were Andalusia and Valencia in Spain. 

Top-booked destinations

  • UK: London, Edinburgh, Brighton, Whitby, Bournemouth
  • ES: Catalonia, Andalucía, Valencian Community, Balearic Islands, Canary Islands

Despite the crisis, the average booking value of reservations seems to have increased. In the UK, the change was drastic, with the average booking value rising by 41%. In Spain, the increase was more subtle, growing by 15% since last year.

Average booking value

  • UK:  € 777,00 (+41%)
  • ES:  € 1.128,30 (+15%)

So where did these bookings come from? In the case of both the UK and Spain, the top-booking guests were of German nationality. The UK was also popular among travellers from the US and the Netherlands, and Spain was popular with travellers from the UK and France.

Top three international markets travelling to the UK and Spain

  • UK: Germany, US, Netherlands
  • ES: Germany, UK, France

Christmas travel trends in the UK

On November 23rd, the UK government announced that travellers arriving in England would have the option to take a COVID-19 test after 5 days of self-isolation and be released from quarantine. 

It could be expected that this loosening of restrictions would inevitably result in an increase in traveller interest. 

Sure enough, following the announcement, HomeToGo saw a 37% increase in average daily searches for vacation homes in England for the Christmas holidays. 

They also detected a 341% week-over-week increase in searches for 5-night stays in England.

The top-searched regions of England for Christmas 2020 have been the Greater London Area, Cornwall and Devon. 

Wondering when your guests will start to book again? Here is the 2021 date every property manager should be ready for.

Want to get listed on HomeToGo? Learn how Rentals United can help you distribute your listings to the fast-growing vacation rental metasearch engine!