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2009 Rental Season Off Only Slightly from 2008

Contact: Elizabeth Weedon
Phone: (888) 281-8660

September 16, 2009 — Booking rates continued to make a strong comeback throughout the latter part of the summer vacation rental season on Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard, and Nantucket - resulting in a mere 5.7% reduction in bookings over the 2008 summer season.

Despite the slow start of the early 2009 season when bookings were off as much as 24% over last year, a record-breaking number of last-minute transactions nearly made up for the deficit. Specifically, the Cape is down 4.8%; the Vineyard is down 6.1%, and Nantucket is down 13.6%. (Note: all data has been adjusted for inventory, i.e., summer '09 rental listings increased by roughly 5% over last year.)

2009 vs. 2008 Booking Rates

Month to month bookings since April 2009 have continued to outpace the same months last year. The table below shows the changes in booking rates versus the previous year:

 Prior to Jan. 1, 2009  -25%
 January '09  -20%
 February  -24%
 March  -  3%
 May  30%
 June  55%
 July  24%
 August  25%


Overall for the entire Cape and the Islands, pricing had risen a couple of percentage points during the winter for the 2009 season, but now we find pricing exactly the same, on average, as 2008. Specifically, Cape prices finished up $11 per home and Martha's Vineyard up $20; but prices for Nantucket, soft all year, finished down $205. (This data is based on a sampling of over 1900 homes that have been listed on our site for the past 3 years.)

What caused the remarkable rebound in bookings?

The economy - early-year economic concerns that undoubtedly discouraged committing ahead were evidently alleviated somewhat starting in March (which saw the turn in the Dow), allowing cautious procrastinators to commit to their much-needed and desired vacations. And homeowners, also pinched by the economy and increased competition, were incented to negotiate deals as the season progressed.

The weather - unusual rainfall and cooler temperatures in New England throughout much of May and June did little to inspire people to book their vacations on the Cape and Islands. The gorgeous weather of the July Fourth Weekend, on the other hand, was immediately followed by a spike in bookings. In fact, on July 8th, we experienced the single-most highly trafficked day in our 11-year history. Furthermore, the continued beautiful weather of the latter half of the season has been mirrored by more recent record-breaking last-minute bookings.

Ease of booking - the internet and sites like ours allow vacationers to view multiple properties 24/7, making it easy to find what they want when they want. The entire business transaction, too, can be completed quickly, thanks to emailing or faxing leases, wiring funds, etc. Thus, locating and booking a vacation rental can be entirely accomplished within a 24-hour period.

Our conclusion is that, despite the dire economic outlook and terrible weather of the pre-season, vacationers finally chose to take their beloved Cape and Islands vacations afterall. Perhaps they realized the economic value of renting a home over traveling overseas or staying in a hotel, and perhaps they realized that it is possible to book a vacation property within 24 hours. It remains to be seen whether this procrastination trend will become part of the "new normal" rather than just a one-time aberration.


About WeNeedaVacation: Since 1997, WeNeedaVacation has been providing an efficient and inexpensive way of matching vacationers and vacation rental homeowners. The website lists nearly 4,000 properties on Cape Cod, Martha's Vineyard, and Nantucket. The WeNeedaVacation Vacation Planner also offers extensive information to the 175,000+ vacationers who use our site yearly, including information about beaches, events, dining, activities, and shopping. Our amazing staff provides unparalleled guidance to our Cape & Islands vacation rental homeowners. Many of our staff are vacation rental owners themselves, and all work hard to promote this special place. We proudly belong to 17 local Chambers of Commerce.

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Phone: (888) 281-8660