By Todd Brooks

Indications show that the 2010 rental season will be better than the 2009! Umbrellas

The landscape of the vacation rental industry has changed over the last several years.  The trend has been to book vacation plans closer to arrival date.  The vast amount of information available on the Internet has enabled the potential guest to check availability and have numerous selections to choose from, eliminating the “sense of urgency” that we experienced in the prior years.  As the economy weakened, the mindset of the traveler was to hang on to their money as long as possible.

In 2009, the vacation rental industry numbers were down across the board.

Occupancy was off a bit and rates were down a small percentage more.  People will generally take one vacation during a recession, but they may not stay as long or spend as much money.  The major theme of 2009 was to get a discount.  The media exposed this even greater.  From the Wall Street Journal to NBC’s Today show, it was embedded in the minds of vacationers that they were entitled to a discount and shouldn’t pay full rate.  The summer fared pretty well, but when the belts were tightened, the second or third vacations were cut from the budget, which impacted the shoulder season rentals.

There is optimism for 2010.

Advance booking are up double digits for the upcoming Summer, and the discounting has subsided a bit.  The proof lies in Internet bookings, where people book online at the published rate and don’t haggle over price.  Internet bookings are up over 20% for 2010.  The harsh winter has impacted  Spring bookings for 2010, as schools in the Midwest and Northeast have either cancelled or shortened Spring Break due to the tremendous amounts of snowfall and snow days.  It usually takes a couple of years to come out of a recession, but I think the worst is behind us and the trend is positive.  We are not quite back to the glory days, but we are headed in the right direction.  The amount of tourists to Hilton Head has declined over the past decade, but the Town and the Chamber are doing their best to address that problem.

In a nutshell, 2010 looks to be better than 2009.

The amount of inquiries and vacationers willing to spend money are on the rise.  You get the feel over the phone when booking a reservation that the attitude has changed from the “sky is falling” to excitement about going on vacation.

By Todd Brooks with Island Getaway Rentals