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2021 Vacation Rental Trends: Croatia and Beyond

Early 2020: Excited for the year ahead

2021 Vacation Rental Trends: Croatia and Beyond

At the beginning of 2020, anticipation was high. Many of us were excited to look ahead and plan our next travel destination. Especially for summer. It seems like so long ago now. Little did we know what lay ahead of us. A global pandemic that was about to cause uncertainty all over the world and wreak havoc on all of our travel plans! 

COVID-19: In the thick of it

By spring 2020, it was recommended that most travelers should minimize their travel plans. Countries closed their borders. Expatriates all over the globe scrambled to get flights home. As time went on, countries issued more and more restrictions. We saw flights being cancelled and mass confusion as to who was allowed to travel where. Many were forced to scrap travel plans all together. Millions of dollars were lost globally in non-refundable flights, accommodation and other travel related activities.

Booking Holdings, the parent company of Booking.com, Kayak, Priceline and Opentable, reported an 85% drop in bookings. And in April 2020, Lonely Planet announced its decision to close the majority of the London and Melbourne offices. Sources stated that the reduction of staffing levels globally was in direct response to the downturn in the travel industry resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. More locally, here in Croatia, our number of foreign tourists arrivals dropped by 82.2% from 2019 to 2020.

It was an unprecedented disaster for the tourism and travel industries all over. 

Now, with the first batch of the COVID-19 vaccinations arriving in Croatia, many of us in the industry are starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Huge Shift

Croatia saw a huge shift in the demographics during the 2020 season. The English-speaking visitors, namely Americans, Brits, Canadians and Australians, were largely under lockdown. Many decided to cancel their international travel plans due to unreliable or unclear information as to whether they would be allowed into the country or not. And as a result, Croatia saw an influx of a different demographic of tourist, visitors who mostly arrived by car from neighbouring European countries.

In a desperate attempt to attract what little business was remaining, we saw the price of accommodations plummet to levels that were previous unimaginable. This reverberated through the entire economy. Croatia’s short tourism season and government aid programs did little to alleviate the worry and anxiety felt throughout the industry. 

With the dust of the 2020 season settled and the end of the year approaching, many of us are left asking, what now?

Predicted trends for 2021

For those of us that made it through 2020, the future looks a little brighter.  I think it’s safe to say that travel trends will look significantly different for 2021. How so?

COVID has definitely increased the focus on safety and sanitisation. This focus will continue well into 2021. Standards of cleanliness in the short term rental industry are going to be very high throughout the new year. Travelers will understandably be nervous about the potential for virus-transfer, so mitigating these concerns with top notch disinfection processes is vital.

In 2020, search data already showed that nearly 90% of overall searches were for trips to rural areas and this trend looks set to continue through 2021. With the seclusion and privacy that rural settings can provide, these properties also allow for group and family travel. Urban areas may not see their revenues returning to pre-COVID numbers for at least two to three years. The prediction is that travellers will continue to stay cautious and avoid large groups and populations centres.  The emphasis on social-distancing will be forefront.

Transportation and tour operators will also see a shift to more private and individual services. Trust will be paramount. Trends show that travellers will seek to book with known, trustworthy companies or services/accommodation recommended by trusted family or friends.

Looking forward

Although there are still may hurdles to overcome, the future of travel and tourism in Croatia is looking up.  With vaccines now being approved and slowly distributed around the world, it’s bringing hope to all of us that life can finally get back to normal.  This pandemic has caused a massive worldwide economic and phycological impact. It will take years for travel normality to truly come back. And at least the healing process has started.

Here at Golden Leaf Properties, we are all optimistic for the vacation rental industry in 2021. And are keen to see what the new year holds for us all!

PS: Golden Leaf Properties was established in 2014, specialising in high quality short-term holiday rentals. We provide a premium booking service, specialising in unique, luxury and upscale accommodation for people visiting Croatia. For home owners we offer a complete management solution for their vacation rentals.

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