Bryan and Kristen Deptula, owners of an inn in Rehoboth Beach, Del., are busy preparing for a big summer.
Aside from the inflow of guests staying at their Canalside Inn, the couple is experiencing higher demand for their spaces for events, like birthdays, weddings and corporate events. “That’s definitely caused us to need to hire a full-time person” to focus on these bookings, Bryan Deptula said.
They are hopeful and grateful that the worst days of the pandemic are behind them. “I’m grateful for even having survived COVID, and having been a part of this journey,” he said.
The resurgence in travel has required Deptula — along with other mom-and-pop enterprises and larger hotels — to hire more people. While it’s been a struggle to find reliable candidates, they know it’s all-hands-on-deck to make sure they’re prepared for the Summer 2022 resurgence of “revenge travel.” If they don’t find additional workers? They will do what they need to do.
“‘We’re gonna put food in our kids’ mouths, and we’re going to provide jobs for the community.’”
“My wife and I, and our employees will be on our hands and knees scrubbing toilets and sinks and bathtubs and showers, and being grateful that we’ve had the opportunity to do that because we’re gonna put food in our kids’ mouths, and we’re going to provide jobs for the community. And I don’t care that’s the price we have to pay.”
After two years of depressed demand, hotels are brimming with guests once again amid a boom in leisure travel.
Occupancy has bounced back, trending slightly higher than pre-pandemic levels, according to lodging data analytics firm STR.
Data from CoStar, a commercial real-estate data company, also revealed that hotels in the U.S. sold more rooms over the recent Memorial Day Weekend than in any prior year.
Even business travel is showing “its first signs of recovery,” the company said, as the travelers they surveyed showed “less negative” signs about their likelihood of traveling overnight for work.
Airbnb hosts bounce back from darkest days of the pandemic
Airbnbs, which are a popular alternative to traditional hotels, are faring even better, and on track to hit new records, according to data from AirDNA, a short-term renal analytics provider.
“Last year was the best year ever for the short-term rental industry,” Jamie Lane, vice president of research at the company, told MarketWatch. “Demand is about 25% higher this year than it was last year.”
In terms of occupancy, as of June 1, the top spots that are hitting their upper limits include North Carolina’s Outer Banks, Downeast Maine, and Pawleys Island in South Carolina, according to AirDNA. These booked destinations have hit an occupancy rate of more than 70% for the upcoming peak summer months of June, July and August.
“‘Last year was the best year ever for the short-term rental industry.’”
Lane noted that while mountain towns, beaches, national parks were all common destinations for travelers in 2021, this year, “we’ve now seen the return to travel to a lot of major cities … [and] destination resort markets.”
The amount of money people are willing to pay for hotels and Airbnbs have also increased, he said.
But hotels are still playing catch-up: While the short-term rental industry had fully recovered to pre-pandemic 2019 levels by May 2021, which makes the environment less about recovery and more about a “massive expansion of short-term rental demand,” Lane said, hotels are just getting back to 2019 occupancy levels.
The difference is obvious to the Deptulas, who also happen to be a super host on Airbnb. They said they have, in fact, seen a larger number of reservations come through the Airbnb
platform than other booking sites.
The boom in travel has been a boon to many Airbnb hosts, amid the rising inflation in the U.S. Airbnb recently reported that more than a third of hosts on their platform said that putting their apartment up for short-term visits has helped them cover the rising costs of living – including putting that money towards their rent or mortgage.
But the boom has been a bane for others. In Delaware, the Deptulas said they were having a hard time hiring for key roles. For a housekeeping position, over 100 people applied — 96 of them failed to show up for interviews. “That is a true statistic,” Bryan Deptula said. “The four who showed up were hired, because that is literally the only thing we needed them to do, was to show up.”
The four people they hired did not show up for the first day of work.
The couple said they also advertised for an innkeeper role, which had resulted in 50 applications. They undertook 25 phone interviews. Two showed up in person. The Deptulas hired the two of them, but one of them didn’t show up for the first day.
“It’s truly a novel phenomenon,” Bryan Deptula said, of the labor market.
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