An Unprecedented Spike in Rural Short-Term Rental Demand

Travel proves resiliant during Covid but trends and destinations change

July 16, 2021
by Jacob Werden

On March 11th, 2020, then-President Donald Trump delivered his first nationwide address on the nascent pandemic. Within days, a 30 day travel ban with Europe was to begin. Seemingly overnight, popular destinations such as Paris, Barcelona, and Rome became inaccessible to Americans. Likewise, New York, Los Angeles, and Miami became inaccessible to Europeans. Shortly thereafter, these international travel measures were followed up with restrictions domestically. Spring break trips to Vegas, Daytona Beach, and South Padre Island had to be cut short. In the following weeks, bread making and Tiger King binge watching would replace hobbies of clubbing and bar-hoping. That said, while leisure and travel as we knew it had changed, by no means did vacationing go away.

Nearly a year removed from the initial COVID-19 related disruptions, AirDNA’s recent 2021 Trend Report synthesizes 10 dominant trends in the short-term rental space. In a nutshell, these trends showcase that now ubiquitous “work from home” routines have produced nearly continuous demand for accommodations outside of popular urban centers. See below for several of the report’s highlights:

  • Small City / Rural Accommodations see dramatic YoY KPI improvement: non-traditional accommodations saw positive YoY increase in demand for nearly every month in 2020 outside of the initial lockdown period. Further, small city / rural units were the only property type in 2020 to see double digit outperformance in occupancy, ADR, and RevPar metrics.
  • Long stays are here to stay: In the January prior to the pandemic, bookings lasting longer than seven days accounted for roughly 21% of property rentals. By December, this proportion nearly doubled to 41%. With businesses permanently allowing for employees to work from home more often, it appears likely that interest in longer term accommodations will persist.
  • The end of seasonality Prior to COVID-19, vacation property owners were largely pressured to pack as much rental revenue into a narrow range of months known as a “peak season.” For instance, a condo owner in Vail or a beach house owner in Emerald Isle would logically try to see as much throughput as possible during the winter or summer (respectively). However, AirDNA’s Coachella Valley case study demonstrates that guests were willing to book evenly throughout the year, even during the summer where the Valley is infamous for its extremely warm weather.

See more information about these and other exciting short-term rental trends for 2021 at

At InvestSTR, we will continue to monitor these other trends with the goal of providing our platform users with the tools they need in order to leverage the upside of short-term rental disruption.