As the winter season approaches in Southwest Florida, many local rental managers are preparing for the wave of Snow Birds that visit Bonita Springs, Naples and Marco Island. The time honored tradition of escaping the freezing temperatures has slowly changed in recent years. Many factors have contributed to a trend of shorter vacations geared for a new breed of Snow Birds.
The most important changes in the vacation rental industry have been from the Internet. The Internet has created a global market for vacation rentals. On the web, guests can choose from millions of rental properties from around the world. The global competition clearly benefits the traveler. For the rental manager, the web means that the competition is only a click away. Prospective guests can quickly compare rates between numerous rental homes and hotels, leading to very competitive prices.
In order to cope with competitive pricing, many resorts and rental managers have unbundled services. By unbundling services, base rental rates appear to be lower, but do not include the usual services provided like linens and housekeeping. Rental managers have created new profit centers out of providing services that are typically included in the rental rate.
Southwest Florida has seen a glut of rental properties come on the market. This has been attributed to the current slump in real estate sales. Many second home owners have turned to seasonal rentals as a means to offset their expenses. The increase in local rental inventory has resulted in very competitive pricing. This has benefited seasonal renters, with typical rental rates being as low as 25% compared to previous years.
Another trend rental managers have seen in recent years is a shift from the typical three month rental to the shorter weekly rental. Shorter rentals have been mostly attributed to the Baby Boomers. Less Americans are retiring at fifty, and "Boomers" are working later into their careers. Today's snow bird is increasingly working part-time if not full-time. This means the typical seasonal guest will visit Southwest Florida for only a week or even less.
As the competition for seasonal visitors heats up in the vacation rental market, rental managers have chosen to cater to visitors focused on activities like golfing and boating. For an extra fee the rental managers can offer concierge services and transportation to and from the airport. Even budget minded guests are now expecting amenities like broadband internet and heated private pools.
Renee Macdonald, a rental manager with Land and Sea Vacation Rentals , offers guests amenities like golf memberships and beach access. Renee points out that, "Most guest come to Naples and Marco Island for the great golf courses and the pristine beaches." By transferring the property owner's golf membership or beach parking pass to the tenant, the rental manager can leverage the rental property's unique features.
The winter tradition of Snow Birds migrating to Southwest Florida to escape from the cold has become more orientated to working Baby Boomers and visitors looking for plenty of activities. Factors like global competition, a slow down in the real estate market and a shift in the demographics has all contributed to survivor vacations with more activities. The current trend of shorter rentals will continue to increase resulting in a high demand for weekly and weekend holidays. Yet, all seasonal renters have greatly benefited from the market conditions, with lower rental rates and more amenities.
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