Study: 72% of Americans prefer hotels and resorts to vacation rentals

When it comes to vacation travel, more than seven in 10 Americans prefer hotels and resorts to vacation rentals like Airbnbs, according to a ValuePenguin survey of more than 1,000 Americans.

Respondents said the reason was primarily related to more amenities, safety protocols and on-site resources for those planning to do work while on vacation. Vacation rentals, however, have appeal for large groups of travelers.

Main conclusions

  • Americans overwhelmingly prefer hotels and resorts over vacation/timeshare rentals, but price transparency is not a big factor. Among survey respondents, 72% said they would prefer to stay in a hotel. Top reasons cited include better amenities (37%), ease of booking (33%), more people available for service (32%) and on-site restaurants and bars (31%).
  • Despite greater popularity among hotels and resorts, more customers have had a negative hotel experience. While 44% of respondents who have stayed at a hotel or resort said they had a negative experience, only 29% of previous vacation rental guests say the same.
  • Consumers are willing to spend more for their preferred type of hosting, and many don’t bother to compare prices between alternatives. Six out of 10 would be happy to shell out more money for the type of hosting they prefer, and 54% of respondents don’t even bother to compare purchases between the two hosting categories.
  • Many Americans plan to work remotely while traveling this year, and most believe hotels and resorts are better suited for business travel. Of the one in three respondents who plan to go online for work while on vacation, nearly 60% will stay at a hotel or resort.
  • Travelers think that vacation rentals are ideal for large gatherings like family reunions or a trip with friends, while preferring hotels for business trips and international trips. Although hotels and resorts take the top spot regardless of the purpose of travel, vacation rentals were popular options for family reunions and trips with friends (44% and 43%, respectively).

The popularity of vacation rentals, however, seemed to increase during the pandemic. Of those who said their accommodation preferences had changed due to the pandemic, 20% previously preferred hotels and resorts but now prefer vacation rentals, while 15% said the opposite.

Currently, however, consumers trust hotels and resorts more when it comes to staying safe and hygienic than vacation rental companies (74% vs. 26%).

The main reasons for choosing hotels over vacation rentals have little to do with saving money, but rather with comfort and services while you are away.

For those who prefer vacation rentals, having a more personal feel, access to full kitchens, and staying in more unique locations were the main draws. Not having to dine with every meal and being able to accommodate large groups within the rental can also save you a ton of money on a trip.

While millennials prefer hotels and resorts, they are the group most likely to prefer vacation rentals: 32% said so, compared to 29% of Gen Z and 28% of Gen X.

Hotels also had a much higher preference among international travelers and those planning a beach vacation or wellness-focused trip. Trips with friends and family reunions, however, saw a narrower split with more than four in 10 saying a vacation rental was the way to go.

About Michael B. Billingsley

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