The travel market, including OTAs and vacation rental apps, took a nose dive at the start of the pandemic, as countries put strict travel bans and social distancing orders in place. In the past month or so, some of those restrictions have lifted, and it looks like people are itching to get out of the house.
Vrbo Vacation Rentals by Homeaway.com has increased daily net new installs 113% over the past two months. Wednesday, June 24, marked its highest number of daily installs in the app's lifetime with about 44,000. The app is also experiencing record-high engagement with over one million DAUs as of yesterday, June 25.
June is not yet over and we've already seen significant month-over-month gains in DAU for most vacation rental apps. Holidu, an app most popular in Europe, grew 191% in June. The second strongest growth, +86%, came from Hospitality by GladToHaveYou. Apps like Couchsurfing are obviously not experiencing this uptick, as no one wants to stay on someone else's couch during a pandemic.
While Airbnb is the slowest growing of the group, I believe it's doing just fine. A few weeks ago, I looked into the possibility of renting an Airbnb for my boyfriend's birthday. Naturally, I procrastinated on booking a place and after looking last night, discovered that nearly every Airbnb is now booked through the summer. It's most likely local travelers and "work from anywhere" folks driving this rebound.
It's also interesting to note that Airbnb was recently flooded with negative reviews about the COVID cancellation policy and refund process. Using Apptopia's Review Analysis tool, I was able to see the impact of this. While the app's overall sentiment in the last 90 days is below that of the market average, it's still more positive than some others in the space.
As Airbnb responds to these reviews and rethinks their overall strategy for the post-pandemic world, we may see bigger shifts in the app's performance and user base. The same goes for other apps as they all adjust to the new travel climate.
What do you think the market will look like in a few months? Let us know at @Apptopia.