Florida Destinations: Are you getting your fair share of the vacation rental boom?

May 10, 2021

The Florida vacation market is exploding. In this article, we’ll address two indicators and two strategies that can help you make sure your destination is getting its piece of the pie.

January and August reservations on the books as of May 5 are proof that the state’s vacation rental industry is growing.

Revenue per available rental (RevPAR) is 58% higher than it was two years ago, driven by higher occupancy and higher rent. The Adjusted Paid Occupancy rate, or guest nights out of nights available, increased by 9%, a 26% growth. At this time in 2019, the average unit had 13.1 reservations on the books for January through August. This year, that number has increased by 23% to 16.1. These numbers make it clear that the statewide vacation rental market is exceling, even with increasing inventory. However, the statewide average tends to gloss over the differences in performance between different markets. So how are individual counties doing? 

First, it’s important to acknowledge that some Florida counties have many more vacation rentals than others. The counties with high numbers of rentals will be able to generate more tax revenue but are also more likely to face challenges such as unlicensed rentals and citizen complaints. Among Florida counties, Osceola has the highest number of listings with just under 33,000 on Airbnb and Vrbo combined. Miami-Dade has the second highest with just over 20,000 listings. On the other end of the spectrum, Hardee, Calhoun, Union, Baker, Liberty, and Holmes all have fewer than 10 listings on the two platforms. Approaches between counties should vary based on the number of rentals, but that requires local officials to understand their vacation rental inventory. Regardless of the number of rentals in your market, it’s important to make sure that their performance improves at rates similar to other areas in the state.

Listings per County

One goal of destination marketers is to increase the number of annual visitors. The map below shows the adjusted paid occupancy rate by county for reservations on the books by May 5 with arrivals between January and August of 2021. This dataset is limited to counties where Key Data has partnered with a significant percentage of the  local property management companies. For this date range, occupancy rates range from a high of 74% in Gulf County to a low of 31% in Charlotte County. Areas along the Panhandle and around Tampa Bay are the stand-out performers so far this year. If other markets are seeing occupancy rates increase while your occupancy stays stagnant, then it’s time to change your marketing approach. 

Adjusted Paid Ocupancy

Another destination marketing strategy to reach revenue goals is to increase the amount that visitors spend on their vacations. The average guest stay value helps to capture that information. The map below shows the average guesty stay value over the same time period. As with occupancy, the range in stay values between Florida counties is large. Franklin County has the highest at $2,774 while Putnam has the lowest at $268. This indicator is driven primarily by average daily rates and by average length of stay. Franklin and Gulf County have longer average stay lengths, at 8.8 and 7.7 days respectively, which increases their average stay value over other Panhandle counties. Encouraging renters to book longer stays will increase occupancy and stay values without having to attract more visitors.

Average Stay Value

We’ve used just two indicators for a large period of time to address performance and highlight potential strategies for Florida counties. Of course, this only scratches the surface of the data that is available to destination marketing organizations. If you want to make sure that your destination is growing as quickly as the rest of the state, Key Data can help. Our data will help you understand:

  • Where guests are (and aren’t!) coming from.
  • Year-over-year performance changes.
  • How occupancy and rates change throughout the year.

Reach out to dmo@keydatadashboard.com to learn more.

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