It’d be an understatement to say our lives have changed drastically in 2020, and the long-term ramifications of the COVID-19 pandemic on many industries won’t be fully known for months or even years. In the midst of all this change, new cultural trends are already emerging, and one that picked up a lot of steam this summer was the flexcation.
If you haven’t heard this term before, I assure you it’s exactly what it sounds like. Flexcations are travel plans that take advantage of increasingly flexible work and school arrangments. This allows individuals, couples, and families to visit fun destination locations, while still keeping up with their ongoing responsibilities by completing tasks in online or remote work environments.
With many offices closing down entirely and an incredible 62% of Americans switching to remote work indefinitely, the opportunity to travel and work from the road is now available to more people than ever before. So although the travel industry has been hit hard during the pandemic (as expected), flexcations have become something of a silver lining - particularly for vacation rental owners, who can provide their guests with a private residence for extended stays where they can maintain a (somewhat) regular schedule.
As the flexcation trend makes its way into the public consciousness, they will become increasingly common, so industrious vacation rental owners should take this opportunity to bring in some of this growing audience while the concept is still evolving. To do that, it’s important to consider the small, but significant, ways that your rental can stand out from the competition and appeal more directly to flexcationing families.
Add Extra Sleep Space
Flexcations are particularly popular with families. Many school systems have switched to a partial or entirely elearning schedule for the current school year, so flexcations can seemingly be taken at any time. This includes traditionally “off” months like September, October, January, or February. Now families, and kids in particular, can have new, memorable, and potentially even life-changing experiences (e.g., visiting California in the winter if you’re from the Midwest or watching the seasons change in the mountains) not normally afforded to them during a regular school year. It also means that rates are cheaper during these times, so families can stay longer and pack more into their vacations without breaking the bank.
However, if you’re preparing your vacation rental for extended family stays, it’s imperative that you provide multiple sleeping options that are comfortable, durable, and sustainable. Bunk beds are a great way to increase sleeping space in a bedroom without sacrificing floor space.
Because of the heavy duty design and high quality materials we utilize for our bed frames, we can build our Adult Bunk Beds in sizes all the way up to king or California king, and each individual sleeping platform holds up to 2,000 lb. They’re more than capable of supporting teens and adults of all shapes and sizes (including adult couples), which makes them ideal for families and large groups (and makes your rental more attractive to these audiences). If your rental is short on bedrooms (or the bedrooms are on the smaller side), an Adult Bunk Bed will efficiently maximize your space and profitability.
Give Them a Workout
A regular workout routine is an important part of life for many people. On a flexcation, those same people will want to stick to those routines, especially if they’re staying for longer than just a couple of days.
53% of Americans say that they exercise (or try to exercise) while they’re on vacation, so providing a space to workout with equipment adds an attractive amentiy for the fitness fanatics in your audience, saving them time and money that might otherwise be spent at a local gym. It can be located indoors in a spare bedroom, basement, or even the corner of a large living room, or outdoors in a backyard, three seasons room, or garage. Depending on how much space you’re actually working with, the equipment you offer can be pretty basic (yoga mat, small dumbbells, resistence bands, etc.) or as involved as an entire workout machine or weightlifting bench.
Make Your Place Pet-Friendly
The cost-benefit value of allowing pets in your vacation rental has been hotly debated for probably as long as the vacation rental industry has existed, but if you’re courting the flexcation audience, you’re going to encounter a greater number of people who don’t want to leave Fido behind for extended periods. Experienced vacation rental owners shouldn’t be hugely surprised to hear this, as “pet friendly” is the third most searched for amenity on many popular vacation rental sites, and “51% of travelers with pets said they would bring their pet along on every vacation if they could.”
The idea of traveling with pets already gaining popularity before the pandemic, but if the purpose of a flexcation is for your guests to experience everyday life in a new location, many people (dog owners in particular) will want their pets to be part of it. Appeal to these pet parents with a pet-friendly policy, which can include limitations on the types and size of pets allowed (although be careful about alienating certain pet owners with too many restrictions).
A well-designed pet policy should include:
- Types of pets that can be accommodated
- Any fees associated with bringing a pet
- Accommodations for pets (pet-specific rooms in the rental, pet supplies you provide, nearby dog parks, etc.)
Be sure to consult your insurance, HOA, and any other applicable community rules that may restrict your ability to have pets in you rental property.
And if allowing pets into your rental simply isn’t an option, consider providing your guests with information about local boarding facilities, so their pets can stay close by and can be visited every day. You could even work out a deal with these businesses to offer special discounts for your guests.
Offer Office Space (with Internet Access)
For your guests, the most important component of a flexcation is having the ability to do their work (or study) during their trip. So to stand out among the competition and acquire this unique audience, you must set aside space in your rental where people can get away and focus on doing the work they need to get done each day without being disturbed (or disturbing their families).
Obviously, if you have a den or small extra space in the home (including in an attic or basement), that would be the ideal place to set up a home office. However, that’s not always an option when you’re trying to maximize your space.
In this situation, consider adding a loft bed to one of the bedrooms. These elevated bed frames offer roomy and comfortable space beneath the sleeping platform where you can put a desk, computer, lamp, and anything else your guests may need to get their work done. With an incredibly sturdy frame that can hold up to 2,000 lb, our Adult Loft Beds easily accommodate larger mattress sizes that provide enough room for two grown adults and conserves floor (and work) space in a room. And if you’re especially pressed for places to work and/or sleep, consider pairing it with another Adult Loft Bed or an Adult Bunk Bed to really maximize the space in even the smallest of bedrooms.
Of course, modern remote work simply can’t get done these days without an Internet connection. You likely already have wifi or some other type of Internet service set up in your vacation rental, but when you’re trying to bring in flexcationers and the work from home crowd, it moves from a nice (if expected) perk to an absolutely essential amenity.
A Home Cooked Experience
In many families, breakfast and dinner are some of the most important parts of the day, a time when everyone gathers together to share a meal, talk about their lives, and spend quality time together.
During an extended flexcation stay, cooking will likely be a major part of the experience, so a fully equipped kitchen that makes it easy for your gests to replicate the meals they would make at home is another simple, yet effective, way to expand your potential pool of guests.
Not only will your guests feel more at home, but those who are traveling during off-seasons to save money won’t feel compelled to blow their budgets on food. And if your rental is in a more remote location or small town with limited options, having a fully capable kitchen space will appeal to families who don’t want to spend long portions of their vacation traveling to get food.
Not to mention, this is particularly important during a pandemic, when local restaurants may have strict restrictions on dine-in, carryout, and delivery options.
If you’re curious what a well-maintained kitchen should include, this blog post compiles in an incredibly thorough list of everything you’ll need (probably).
New World, New Audience
Some aspects of our world may be changing, but that doesn’t have to mean the end of your vacation rental business. Trends are already developing that show us what travelers need right now, and those hosts that are willing to adapt to these changes will likely not only survive these trying times, but may come out on the other end even more prepared for whatever comes next.