May 21, 2015 - Cape and Islands vacation rental homeowners are
reporting solid booking numbers so far for the 2015 season. But most notably, the
“shoulder seasons” (late spring and early fall) are seeing significant increases
in vacationer bookings versus last year.
Undoubtedly, the growing popularity of both spring and fall vacations indicates
that vacationers are becoming increasingly aware of the many benefits of vacationing
then: with prices lower and more properties to choose from, they can get more for
less, crowds are diminished, and temperatures are still comfortable enough to enjoy
all the activities available to them in the summer. In addition, due to reduced
tenant demand versus the summer season, homeowners usually relax their minimum stay
requirements in the shoulder seasons, allowing couples and pre-school age families
to get away then for even just a couple of days.
For the full spring/summer/fall season and for the entire Cape and Islands region,
bookings to date are 6.4% higher than this time last year: the Cape up 5%, Martha’s
Vineyard up 7.4%, and Nantucket up 8.9%. Much of this strength, however, is due
to the inclusion of shoulder season bookings, which are up as much as 14.6% for
the spring and 11.6% for the fall. Bookings for the high summer season alone are
not experiencing the double-digit increases of the shoulder seasons, but are nevertheless
remaining positive overall at 1.5% higher than this time last year.
Pricing: A review of weekly rental pricing set by homeowners reveals
their continued confidence in being able to fill their vacancies. Prices on the
Cape are up nearly 2% over last year and those on the Islands are up over 4%. Although
these increases are fairly normal for the outset of the booking season, this is
the first time that we have seen price inflation as the season progresses. Whereas
usually homeowners are forced to drop their rates somewhat in order to fill remaining
vacancies, weekly rates have actually increased slightly (0.3%) since the early
booking season. Not surprisingly, this growth occurred prior to the end of March,
and has started to drop a bit in April and May, and undoubtedly, pricing will continue
to soften to fill last-minute vacancies. But the expected price erosion started
later this year and is less pronounced so far than in the past.
Specifically, the rates of smaller homes (one bedroom) and larger homes (5+ bedrooms)
have increased somewhat more than mid-sized homes.
The substantial growth in spring and fall bookings, a trend that has continued for
several years now, indicates a significant expansion of the vacation season on the
Cape and Islands. Where, traditionally, the season got underway with a bang on the
Fourth of July weekend and closed abruptly on Labor Day, vacationers now enjoy spending
time here as early as May and well into October. And homeowners and businesses are
responding to that demand, in turn, and enjoying the resulting benefits.
Regardless of the time of the season, though, over 20 listings a week are being
activated on our website, and there are plenty of available homes to suit every
preference for the spring, summer or fall.