Today we’re excited to introduce the first edition of FlipKey Travel Insights, a series of data visualizations highlighting travel trends in popular destinations in the United States. We took a deep dive into millions of reservation requests and property listings from the past three years to uncover revealing information about travel to 25 of FlipKey travelers’ favorite destinations. Travel Insights help us understand where real travelers go, when they travel, and how much they spend on their vacations. As summer travel season kicks into full gear, we present these insights as a helpful aid for planning your next trip.
Check out all 25 Travel Insights destinations here
“Travel Insights allows us to harness the data we have from our millions of travelers who have planned their vacations on FlipKey.com and utilize it to share useful tips and trends,” said Eric Horndahl, VP of Marketing. “Travelers planning their next vacation will have insider knowledge on when to go, where to stay, how far in advance to book and how much to pay for rental accommodations.”
We hope you’ll check out the full data visualizations before you plan your next trip. Until then, here are ten travel tips to whet your appetite for vacation…
1. Cape Cod’s short peak season means high demand in the summer months Average price for a 4-bedroom rental is $310 a night in June, July, and August.
2. President’s Day week is expensive in ski destinations Colorado and Vermont rates soar by $70 per night above average during President’s Day ski week. The last week of January and first week of February are the best weeks to save on ski lodging.
3. Visit Hawaii year-round Hawaii is a romantic getaway destination where almost half the bookings are for couples. Thanks to its tropical climate, Hawaii’s “peak season” lasts 12 months of the year – paradise indeed!
4. Plan ahead for the mountains or Disney Planning time for peak season in Breckenridge, CO is 10-12 weeks, and Orlando travelers book their vacations 16 weeks in advance.
5. Orlando is a family vacation spot 50% of travelers come to the Disney area in family-sized groups of 4-6.
6. San Francisco Bay area has the highest average price per guest at $108 per night Small parties and short stays are common in the Bay Area.
7. More than half of Texas Gulf Coast visitors head to South Padre Island Galveston, Port Aransas, and Corpus Cristii are other popular Gulf Coast destinations.
8. Holiday Hideout in the Keys The Florida Keys are most popular during the last two weeks of December. It’s probably not a coincidence that Key West hosts a huge New Year’s Eve party.
9. The Outer Banks has a “super” peak season Starting in late June and lasting through early August, the average price in OBX is more than $400 per night.
10. Southern California and the California Desert have the highest year-round prices 50% of all reservation requests in these areas are made for properties that cost over $200 a night.
Enjoy these travel insights. We hope they will help you find the vacation home that perfectly fits your travel style.
What are your plans for Independence Day? Don’t have any yet? Don’t worry! There’s still time to figure out where you’re going to go and where you are going to stay. We looked at FlipKey travel data to find the top 4th of July travel destinations, and we were surprised to learn that the best fireworks shows don’t always attract the most travelers. Instead of gathering in crowded cities to participate in patriotic celebrations, 4th of July travelers want to go someplace relaxing, where they can spread out and take a break. In fact, all of our top 10 Independence Day destinations are beach towns.
I recently received this email from a friend: “I found the perfect vacation rental for our Bahamas trip. Available September 10-18. The house is on FlipKey (#506635) called ‘Sunset House’ and sleeps 10. Check out the photos and your calendars. Who’s in?”
When I received the email, the first thing that stood out to me is that the friend not only included the FlipKey listing number but also called the vacation rental by its name “Sunset House.” I realized that the owner of “Sunset House” is actually a WebChalet client because I recognized the name of the vacation home.
Create a Brand for your Vacation Rental
A name is a way to establish an identity for your vacation rental, build a brand and help generate word of mouth marketing. A name is also a way for guests to remember your rental. I can guarantee you that when someone asks me where I stayed in the Bahamas a year from now, I am not going to remember a FlipKey number but there is a good chance that I will remember the name “Sunset House” (and associate it with cocktail house and the amazing view at sunset). With an easy-to-remember name, you can also increase your word of mouth referrals. Word of mouth – recommendations made by friends, co-workers, or neighbors you know and trust – is the most effective and cost-effective way to win new guests. You cannot create this word of mouth buzz when your past guests don’t have a brand name to share.
Show Up in Search Results
A second reason to name your vacation rental is that it is highly likely that guests will type your vacation rental name into their search engine. In fact, a recent vacation rental marketing survey found 74% of people looking for vacation rentals would definitely “Google” the name of the property or the owner outside the listing environment. Today guests are doing their own research before booking. Let’s say you gave your vacation rental a generic name like “Bahamas Vacation Rental.” In addition to not being memorable, it is very difficult to optimize your listing or your personal vacation rental website for this search as you will be buried below many other websites. Now type the phrase “Sunset House in the Bahamas” into Google.com. What shows up? The Sunset House’s FlipKey listing, VRBO listing, and the owner’s personal website.
Importance of a Vacation Rental Website
Because users may type your vacation rental name directly into Google or Bing, you should not only include your vacation rental name on all your listings, but also optimize your personal website for the keywords as well. You can expect users to research your brand online and this is a way to take control of your brand image. Guests will look to see where else the house is listed. Are there other reviews on other listing websites? If you have a professional vacation rental website design, you can establish a brand and instantly impress your guests. A user doing her due diligence can now find more information about the vacation home and local area and is more likely to book.
How to Name your Vacation Home
The vacation rental name can be whimsical, but most importantly, it needs to be memorable so it is top of mind when a guest is choosing which vacation rental to book. If your vacation rental has a special feature or attribute, you could tie this into the name. A great name will help set you apart from your competition and help you create a brand that past and future guests can identify with. As for me, I am already daydreaming about sunset hour at the “Sunset House.”
Sarah Brubaker is Co-Founder of WebChalet.com, a vacation rental software company making it easy for owners and managers to book travelers directly with their own professional website. Starting with a variety of vacation rental website templates, owners and professionals can create their own professionalwebsite with availability calendars, online payment processing, and a suite of marketing tools built into the software.
Sofia von Porat contributed today’s post. Sofia is the blogger behind AsWeTravel, where she shares travel tips, videos, guides and inspiration from around the world. Sofia also runs EuropeTravelr, a blog focused purely on European travel.
by Sofia von Porat
Few things evoke our lust for adventure more than the thought of a road trip: the freedom to go wherever you want and stop whenever you like without a care in the world is one of the most liberating feelings for a traveler.
No schedule, no rules – just a map (or GPS system), some really good road trip music, and you’re good to go.
Here are five awesome road trip routes around the world…
Alsace Wine Route – France
Narrow, meandering roads with sweeping vistas of vineyards on either side are part of what makes the French wine region Alsace one of the best road trip routes in Europe. As you drive along the Alsace Wine Route you will pass historical forts and castles perched on hilltops. Driving at your own pace means you will have the opportunity to stop over in one or more of the many medieval villages that dot the region.
With half-timbered houses painted in pastel colors, cobblestone alleys and more wine cellars than you can count, the villages along this route are brimming with old world charm. Every time you take a break from driving, step out of your car and feel that you’ve entered into a world where time stopped a few hundred years ago. Relax, take another sip of the local wine, and enjoy the sensation of timelessness.
Some people choose to base themselves in Colmar, one of the largest towns along the wine route, and then take small daytrips to the surrounding villages. Others prefer to drive in one direction, staying overnight in a different village every night.
Whatever your style, I highly recommend stopping over in Colmar, Eguisheim and Riquewihr which are all very charming and picturesque.
Sydney to Cairns – Australia
The east coast of Australia offers countless fun, famous, beautiful, and quirky pit stops along the way leading up from Sydney to Cairns. A road trip along this route with plenty of breaks is guaranteed to be a good time.
From the vibrant city life of Sydney to the surfer vibes in Noosa and the Gold Coast, to the natural wonders of the Whitsundays, there are more than a few once-in-a-lifetime experiences to be had along Australia’s East Coast.
Don’t miss diving in the Great Barrier Reef or surfing the famous waves at Noosa Heads and Snapper Rocks. Other awesome experiences include getting up close and personal with Kangaroos at Dundee’s Wildlife Park and whale watching by Fraser Island, the largest sand island in the world.
Best of all, renting a car in Australia is easy and rather cheap, so it’s a great option for travelers visiting the country in search of adventure. By renting a car you have much more freedom to go where you want and a unique opportunity to stay in beautiful and more secluded areas that can’t be reached easily by public transport.
Northern Portugal is a region full of adorable towns and beautiful nature. From historical towns like Guimarães to the crystal clear pools of the Peneda-Gerês National Park and picture perfect vineyards on the sloping hills by the Douro River, there is something for everyone in this corner of the Iberian Peninsula.
Porto, one of the largest cities in northern Portugal, is a great city to use as a base, and well worth spending some time in. With colorful tiled buildings and a roughness that can best be described as charming and melancholic at the same time, Porto is a diamond in the rough.
Guimarães makes for a great day trip from Porto, it’s a beautiful historical town with a medieval center and a 1000-year-old castle, only 40 minutes away from Porto!
Another great road trip adventure from Porto is to drive along the winding roads of the Douro Valley. This drive offers an adventurous route and some of the most beautiful views in the region.
From Peso da Régua follow the main road and drive across the plateaux above the Douro valley. Make sure to stop over at the viewpoint of São Leonardo, where you can see the river valley and the mountains of the Serra do Marão.
Route 66 – USA
Few roads are as famous for road tripping as Route 66 in the United States. It would almost be a crime not to include this road on the list.
Crossing the country from the midwest to LA, this route has become an American icon, representing freedom and a symbol for the American dream of seeking a better life.
Although the entire Highway 66 no longer exists, you can still follow the path it used to take across the country on other highways and roads. Along the way, you’ll discover that some parts of the original Route 66 still exist (although they don’t always appear on modern maps), and it is possible to follow some of them by looking out for signs announcing “Historic Route 66.”
Driving the whole length of the route will probably take about 5-6 days, and you will travel through five states: Illinois, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Arizona, and California.
This romanticized route has many quirky pit stops along the way, from the Cozy Dog Drive-in, where corn dogs were invented, to Bottle Tree Ranch, which is an open-air work of art made from recycled glass bottles. These uniquely American tourist traps and roadside attractions are best appreciated as breaks from long days of driving. The historic route also passes through major western cities, making a drive along Route 66 a great way to link several big destinations into one trip.
North & South Island – New Zealand
Unlike many other countries, New Zealand doesn’t really have a well-traveled point-to-point driving route, since those who rent a car here tend to drive it around the whole country, seeking out the plentiful diversions along the way.
Many road trippers in New Zealand do restrict themselves to exploring either the South or North Island, which is a good idea since both islands have enough on offer to keep you busy for months.
The North Island boasts incredible beaches, warm and sunny weather, and Maori villages where you can get an insight into New Zealand’s native culture and explore the unique hot springs. A must on a road trip on the North Island is a visit to Coromandel and Hot water beach, where you can dig your own hot tub in the sand.
One of my favorite stops on the North Island was Lake Taupo. The lake’s clear skies and high altitude makes it one of the world’s best places for stargazing. Sitting by the lake at night staring up into a sky so crowded with stars that it almost makes you dizzy is one of the most romantic experiences you can have while road tripping around New Zealand.
The South island offers completely different types of nature and activities. From the “Pancake rocks” on the west coast to Kaikoura with its whale watching, and the extreme sport capital Queenstown in between. The South Island is a fantastic place for thrill-seekers and sightseers alike.
I hope these places inspire you to go out on a road trip this summer!
So you wrote an inviting welcome letter and a quick list of safety precautions and expectations for your new guests. You even prepared a welcome basket with a bottle of wine and several brochures for neighborhood attractions.
Good work, but did you sit down and think about how you’re going to let your guests into your vacation rental?
Checking in guests to a vacation rental is different from hotels as rental owners have a little more freedom as to how to they give their guests access to the home. If you live relatively close to your property, the easiest option is most likely to meet your guests at the door, give them a tour of the property, and make their transition to “vacation time” a little easier.
For the other owners who are not in the vicinity or simply do not have the time to check in guests, they have to figure out the best way to get keys (or codes) to the vacationers.
What are the options?
Mail the keys!
If your home uses a standard key lock, you may opt to send guests a copy of the key through the mail. Seems simple enough, but is it worth the risk of being lost in the mail? How about damaged upon arrival? Or better yet, arriving at the wrong address or just too late? After all of these considerations, you will still have to determine how the keys are returned to you.
Of course these are not guaranteed risks, but as a rental property owner, would you have the time (and patience) to deal with mistakes that are out of your hands?
Lock the keys up!
Snail mail out of the question? Then you can lock up copies of your key in a lock box on your property. You can easily find many inexpensive options online and go with a key storage box that has many positive reviews and fits your tastes. Leave keys to the rental in the box before the guest arrives and simply tell them the combo to open it. However, the downside to the lock box is that you will have manually change the combination after each guest for security.
When using physical keys for your rental property, there is always the possibility that an unscrupulous vacationer may make copies of the keys. The keys can be stamped with “Do Not Duplicate” to tell locksmiths to not make copies, but there are some key cutters who may not pay attention to this at all.
Get rid of keys entirely!
Why not remove keys from the equation and install a keypad for your home? The perks of using a key-less system include being able to store many multiples of codes that can be recycled, changed, etc. for every group of travelers. If the guest forgets the combination, they can easily call or email you for the combination without needing to wait for keys to arrive in the mail or for you or another authorized person to show up and let them into the house.
You will need to carefully research your choice in keypads. While some may store multiple codes, you may have to physically change them on location. More hi-tech, and generally more expensive, keypads have remote-access options which gives you the ability to change codes using your computer and set up dates for automatic code changes around your vacationer schedules. Depending on your computer savvy level, the programs could take some time for adjustment and setting up.
What then, is the best option for you?
Think about your level of availability for your travelers. A good rental property owner can be reached at most times if emergencies or other problems arrive. However, you can’t always guarantee that you will physically available for issues. Compare the costs of each key option and determine whether or not you can deal with a recurring cost – mailing keys – or a fixed cost – keypad installation.
The check-in process should be simple enough for guests, but definitely consider your own needs and limits in order to save yourself from unnecessary headaches.
As you make plans to visit the beach, go hiking in the mountains, or take a road trip, consider your home’s safety before you go. Burglars prefer to target homes that look empty because it makes the process easier for them. With that in mind, it’s important to make it look like your home is occupied while you’re gone. Along with all the other items on the “to-do” list before you go out of town, don’t forget these five steps for securing your home:
1. Hold Your Mail
A pile of unopened mail and unread newspapers announces to a would-be burglar that your home is empty and ready for intruders. Before you go out of town, call your local post office and ask them to hold your mail. Alternatively, you can even do it online at USPS.com. You’ll also want to call your newspaper service to stop delivery until you return.
2. Trick Potential Intruders
Make it look like someone’s home when you’re out having fun. Here are some ways to outsmart crooks:
Time lights and electronics. You can time your lights, television, and other electronics to turn on and off throughout the day. You want your lights to look natural, as if someone’s home. Avoid leaving your lights on the entire time you are gone. This will not only increase your electric bill, but it’s also suspicious, since most people don’t leave lights on all the time when they’re home.
Hire a landscaper. If you’re going to be out of town for a week or more, hire someone to mow your lawn and trim your hedges, so it looks like someone’s around and doing the yard work.
Have a neighbor park out front. Tell a trustworthy neighbor when you’re going to be out of town, and ask them to park a car in front of your house to make it look like someone’s home.
3. Ask Neighbors to Keep an Eye Out
Friendly neighbors can be an important line of defense against intruders. Tell your neighbors how long you’ll be gone and ask them to keep an eye out for any suspicious activity at your house. If your neighbors know you’re gone, then if they see or hear someone at your home, they will know something is probably amiss and they can contact the authorities.
4. Avoid Social Media
While it may be tempting to share photos on Facebook or tweet about your airport adventures, consider holding off on vacation-related posts. Those you are connected to online are typically your friends, but you never know when your information will get into the wrong hands. A friend of a friend may see your status update and know that your home is vulnerable. Double-check your safety and security settings on social media, and consider waiting to post about your adventures until you get back.
5. Nix the Spare Key
If your home is being targeted, the first thing a criminal will look for is a spare key. He will look in the standard places: a conspicuous plastic rock, under the mat, or above the door. Putting a spare key in an easy-to-spot location is like handing your keys over to an intruder. If you’re going on vacation, think about removing the spare key all together until you are home, or leave a key with a neighbor.
If you take precautions before going on vacation, then you can relax instead of worrying about the state of your home while you’re gone. For additional home safety and travel tips, visit SafeWise.com. If you have additional tips for keeping your home safe while on vacation, please share in the comments!
Elli Bishop is a writer for SafeWise.com – a website that helps you make your home and community safe through their safety resources and honest reviews of safety and security products.
We’ve been hard at work improving the vacation rental experience on FlipKey, and this week we are very excited about launching our first ever mobile app. The FlipKey iOS app is designed for vacation rental owners and managers who want to manage their FlipKey listings on the go.
Property owners and managers who use an iPhone or iPad can download the app today from the App Store for free. The new FlipKey app enables owners and managers to:
Get notifications for new inquiries and messages
Respond immediately to prospective guests
Send payment requests and track payments
Update property rate and availability info
We hope our new mobile app makes it easier for property owners and managers to manage their rentals on FlipKey, and that travelers will continue to enjoy effortless vacation rental reservations.
The East Coast’s historic cities are always popular summer tourist spots, but if you’re looking to stay cool when the weather gets hot, then you might want to skip the cities and visit some of the nearby beaches. From Maine to Florida, the Eastern United States is lined with summer hotspots like Myrtle Beach, and hidden gems like Cape May.
Even better? All these destinations have plenty of beach house rentals available from FlipKey. A rental provides extra living space (spread out those beach toys!), a full kitchen, and amenities like laundry or outdoor barbecue area.
Located in Horry County, South Carolina and stretching 60 miles down the coast, Myrtle Beach is a major tourist destination on the East Coast. The beautiful sub-tropical climate keeps families, couples, and young people coming back year after year to enjoy some fun in the sun. Breathtaking scenery and endless activities help Myrtle maintain its esteemed reputation on the East Coast.
Quiet and charming, this seaside town is situated in the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Duck beaches are known for being uncrowded and walkable from anywhere in the town. Famous for watersports, fishing, and even destination weddings, this town is a family favorite and has been featured on the Travel Channel’s annual Best Beaches list.
Less than 20 miles away from Savannah, Tybee Island is historically known for being the site of an important port during the Spanish-American war. The small island attracts tourists from all over with its extraordinary history, museum attractions, and beautiful beaches. Every year, the island holds its annual Beach Bum parade, where onlookers spray each other with water guns in an effort to stay cool in the Southern heat.
Oak Bluffs, Massachusetts, USA – June 16, 2011: Lunchtime diners enjoy a perfect June day as they dine at one of the many eating and drinking establishments on the Oak Bluffs dock in Martha’s Vineyard.
The third largest island on the East Coast, nicknamed “Hollywood East,” Martha’s Vineyard is a fashionable, popular island beach resort. South Beach is a popular stretch of sand on the Vineyard that faces Smith’s Point, Nantucket and features quality surf. South Beach is easily accessible and if you are up for it, it’s an easy two-mile bike ride from Edgartown. The water is perfect for body surfing and floating in the waves, but swimmers must be careful of the small rocks and shells at the breaking point.
60 miles south of Manhattan, the Jersey Shore is home to some of the best beaches and summer fun on the East Coast. The famous boardwalks offer fun for everyone, whether you crave a quiet stroll or an almost endless onslaught of activities and entertainment. The Jersey Shore is sure to entertain the whole family all year long through fun-filled summer days at the beach and off-season festivities like the tree lighting ceremonies during the holidays.
An island 30 miles off the coast of Cape Cod, Nantucket offers some of the finest beaches on the East Coast and some of the highest valued homes in the United States. Airport and ferry services help visitors travel to and from the beautiful island, but once you’re there you might not want to leave. Smith’s Point is located on the westernmost tip of the biggest beach on the island, Madaket, and is a fantastic fishing and bathing hotspot. Bring your oars, though, this beach is only accessible by boat.
Located at the mouth of Chesapeake Bay, Virginia Beach stretches 35 miles long and is perfect for family fun in the sun. The three-mile boardwalk is fully stocked with restaurants, shopping, entertainment, and other cool attractions. Whether you are looking for a quiet and peaceful week of relaxation or you want to get in the middle of the action, Virginia Beach has plenty to enjoy.
Just two hours away from Washington D.C., Rehoboth Beach is often dubbed “The Nation’s Summer Capital.” Considered to be a relaxing alternative to neighbor Ocean City, Rehoboth has plenty to offer tourists during the summer months. The boardwalk stretches a mile long and includes shopping, restaurants, spas, and live music and entertainment. Endless water activities like surfing, skimboarding, and sailing make Rehoboth a family favorite.
Legendary, wealth-laden, and beautiful, the Hamptons are a summer playground for the rich and famous. Favorite beach spots include Coopers Beach in Southampton and Main Beach in East Hampton because of their cleanliness and the food offerings along the shore. Many of the beaches require seasonal parking permits, but day passes can also be purchased for visitors. Tennis, art, baseball, dancing, charity events, sightseeing, and nightlife are all high priorities on a Hamptons summer to-do list.
Visit Maine recalls that back in the 19th century, Bar Harbor was a premier vacation spot for society’s A-listers because it was home to the largest hotel in North America and was the site of the infamous “Millionaires’ Row.” Travel to and from the seaside town is now much easier thanks to Hancock County-Bar Harbor Airport, which features direct flights to and from Boston. Music festivals, nightlife, comedy, movies, museums, and outdoor recreational activities are just some of the fun you will find in this New England town.
OCMD is an Atlantic Ocean resort town that hosts about eight million visitors every year, making it Maryland’s second most populated town during the summer months. The lengthy boardwalk offers arcades, theatres, buffets, and much more for all family members. During the summer, six nights a week are dedicated to fun and free family events like movies and concerts on the beach, parents-and-kids beach games, and even “Sundaes in the Park.” No matter who you are or what your budget, OCMD is a great place to spend a summer vacation.
New Jersey’s southernmost point is one of the country’s oldest vacation destinations. The entire city is a National Historic Landmark because it has one of the largest collections of Late Victorian style buildings in the country. Cape May’s promenade, or paved boardwalk, offers many different attractions for visitors of all ages. Early morning fitness classes on the beach, like yoga and Zumba, are pay-per-class and are a fun alternative way to stay in shape while on vacation. Other local highlights include brewery tours, haunted tours, golfing, jet skiing, kayaking, parasailing, spas, and even water parks… all within the city’s limits.
Located on Virginia’s Eastern Shore, Chincoteague offers a relaxed atmosphere and a serene option for vacation. Assateague Beach is ten minutes away from Chincoteague and features 37 miles perfect for beach combing, swimming, and surfing. Assateague Explorer Cruise & Kayaking is a tour that takes visitors around the island to see herds of wild ponies, eagles, dolphins, and other wildlife along the coast. Chincoteague Island is well known for its fresh seafood and holds its Seafood Festival in May as well as an Oyster Festival in October.
Wooden boardwalk leading to a Hilton Head beach on beautiful morning.
20 miles north of Savannah, Georgia this island gets its name from Captain William Hilton. Aside from boasting one of the top 10 family beaches in America, Hilton Head is home to plenty of things to do while living life as a beach bum. Golf lovers can find over 20 world-class courses in the area. There are also over 350 tennis courts, and the U.S. Professional Tennis Registry offers daily lessons for players of all levels. Sports not your thing? There’s plenty of history and heritage to discover on this South Carolina island. Or, you can opt to relax at one of the world-class Hilton Head spas.
As many as 50,000 visitors travel to Emerald Isle every summer, and the town has maintained its family friendly atmosphere by not allowing hotels to be built along the beach. Instead, the oceanfront is lined with homes both large and small that are perfect rentals during the vacation season. There are plenty of activities to keep all family members entertained, including pottery, golf, waterslides, aquariums, kayaks, movies, and lots of ice cream. There are even golf cart rentals available on the island to help make your vacation as relaxing and effortless as possible.
Kiawah Island is a barrier island located about 15 miles south of Charleston, South Carolina. It is mainly a beach and golf resort for tourists. With five award-winning golf courses, it’s one of the premier golf destinations along the coast. Leisure programs include pickup basketball, volleyball, and soccer games, as well as scavenger hunts, board games, and even a book exchange for beach reading.
FlipKey is a vacation rental marketplace with more than 240,000 rentals around the world. Find the perfect place to stay for your trip, and get great value along with the space, privacy and amenities of home.