Hurricane Michael's Impact on the Vacation Rental Industry in Bay County, Florida

May 12, 2019

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced on April 19 that Hurricane Michael made landfall on the Florida Panhandle as a Category 5 storm. Michael was the strongest hurricane on record to ever hit the Panhandle, coming ashore near Mexico Beach in Bay County, Florida (source). The massive storm led to billions of dollars of property damage and recovery efforts in the area continue now, over six months later. Using direct data from 16 property management companies in the area, Key Data looks at how Hurricane Michael affected the vacation rental industry in Bay County. 

Maintenance holds and owner nights (nights not available to guests) jumped more than 2,000% during the week of and the week after Hurricane Michael compared to the same time in 2017. The number of holds and owner stays remained higher than usual through April 2019 as owners continued to repair damaged properties.

Mexico Beach vacation rentals, where Hurricane Michael made landfall, were hit hardest by the storm. Of the properties considered “active” (taking reservations) before the storm, 64% are still out of service as of April 2019. Property owners are rebuilding but the number of vacation rental units has not rebounded in full.



The entire Florida-Alabama Panhandle is pacing to have a decrease in RevPar (Revenue Per Available Rental) for the 2019 summer months as compared to 2018 (as of April 25th both years). The decrease was even more pronounced in Bay County. The data indicate that even for properties that are fully operational, nightly revenue is substantially lower than Summer 2018. Paid Occupancy (which represents nights available for guests to book) followed a similar trend: strong through the Spring but lower than last year for the Summer.

Fortunately, ADR (Average Daily Rate) is pacing similarly to 2018 and other indicators are pointing towards a strong Fall 2019 season.

Key Data will be analyzing more long term impacts of Hurricane Michael as we continue to partner with Florida-Panhandle Property Managers.

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