Optimism for the Future
Things are getting better and the future is looking so much brighter than it did in the early Summer. We still have some concerns with COVID-19, but for the most part I definitely think the worst is behind us.
Let me explain why I am optimistic about 2021 and beyond. When we were able to open back up in May 2020, we had bookings but for the most part they were last minute reservations and they were being made by guests who lived within an hour or so from Orlando. This trend stayed with us pretty much through the Summer. We had very few guests booking theme park tickets and very few guests looking to stay in hotels.
In the latter part of August, an interesting trend started to happen more and more as guests started making reservations for 2 or 3 months in advance. Most of these guests were ordering theme park tickets with their lodging, and they requested to go ahead and pay for their theme park tickets in advance so they can make reservations at the park of their choice. This trend is telling us that guests are getting more and more comfortable going to theme parks and being around crowds. This is great news!
So to sum up where we are for the past 5 or 6 weeks we have seen our reservations grow. Not only for vacation homes but hotels as well. We are also seeing more and more guests purchasing packages (lodging and theme park tickets) which is really encouraging.
The outlook looks very good for 2021 for the domestic traveler. I do think it will take until mid 2022 for the International guests to come back. I also think that group travel will start to pick back up in later Spring and Summer 2021, and by early 2022 group travel will be roaring again.
There are really 2 big issues I have going forward: Presidential Election and Flu/COVID Season in 2021.
First off, the Presidential Election. Americans do not like uncertainty…no one does. Regardless of who you vote for in the election, the main thing we cannot have is political uncertainty and a huge court battle to see who occupies the White House. Come November, we hope it will help ease guest’s minds about traveling and the economy so we can see even more advanced bookings.
The second biggest concern I have is the mixture of flu cases mixing with COVID cases. It is extremely difficult to tell the difference in most people between the flu and COVID-19. I am concerned if we have a bad flu season this could cause many local governments to add more and more travel restrictions.
If we see a huge spike in flu and COVID cases, I think it will make for a poor January and February as compared to 2019, but it will definitely be better than what we experienced this past Summer. I think in March we will experience an uptick in guests visiting Orlando and this trend should carry through 2022.
Strategy for 2021
Our strategy for 2021 starts with getting aggressive with our booking strategy for 2021. If a guest books a vacation home for any date in 2021 between now and Dec 1, 2020 we are giving them a 10% discount off of their reservation, plus they only have to put $50 down to make a reservation. I am seeing too many vacation home management companies try to charge a $200 or $300 non-refundable deposit to make a reservation. With this much uncertainty in the marketplace, it is important to secure the reservation and guests are not going to risk $200 and $300.
We are also offering exclusive discounts on theme park tickets if guests book a reservation at one of our vacation homes. These discounts are between 3% to 5% off our already low ticket prices. The key here is for us to use our theme park tickets as the loss leader to get the vacation home reservation.
Our goal is to get as many reservations on the books as possible early and then this gives us a better opportunity to raise our rates as we go into 2021.
If you like what you read here and you want to talk with me about managing and marketing your property, please feel free to call me at my office.
Thank you for your time and GOD BLESS!!!!