The Impact of the Coronavirus | Global Short-Term Rental Markets – PART 3

Early Covid-19 Hotspots: City-by-City Analysis

The Global Short-Term Rental Markets – The Impact Effect of Coronavirus 

Below we take a look at the largest cities in some of the hardest-hit countries around the world to show how short-term rental market on both present and future bookings have been impacted.  For this analysis, we looked at the revenue as of writing (March 9th, 2020) and compared that to the real revenue that had been booked as of March 9th of 2018 and 2019.

Beijing, China

The Chinese capital is very much becoming the poster child of the impacts of the Coronavirus. After tremendous triple-digit growth over the last 5 years and 130% year-on-year growth this past January, Covid-19 has starkly reversed that trend.

On February 7th, Beijing took a massive hit as fully refundable cancellations went into effect. Last month we saw revenue decline by 22% from 2019. Plus, hosts reeled in nearly $19 million less than just the previous month of January.

March appears to have a similar trajectory with projected year-on-year losses of nearly 43%. That being said, as of now the losses seem to be short-lived as booking volume of the short-term rentals market is expected to pick back up in the early summer months.

Tokyo, Japan

Tokyo is a unique case study in that 80% of vacation rentals were swiftly removed from the marketplace virtually overnight in 2018. Since then, regulations had been slowly becoming more lenient especially with the 2020 Summer Olympics on the radar.

In Tokyo, February returns were a far cry from the previous month. In March and April, revenues are poised to head into the red as Covid-19 makes its way across the East China Sea.

Tokyo Airbnb Revenue - Covid-19

Huku Kwetu | Short Term Rentals


Seoul, South Korea

Seoul presents another instance where rock bottom may have yet to come. Again — February numbers shrivel in comparison to January, and year-on-year returns look as if they may be impacted well into June.

Milan, Italy

Milan and the general region of Northern Italy can largely be seen as the virus’s entry point into the European continent. March and April are looking to be severely impacted by the virus, but short-term rental markets are set for a quick early-summer rebound if containment is successful.

Note: our data was compiled prior to the announcement of Italy’s country-wide shutdown, which may affect these metrics. We’ll provide an update as soon as possible.

Milan Airbnb Revenue - Covid -19 Effect

Huku Kwetu | Furnished Short-Term Rentals

Impacts of Major International Event Cancellations

Many destinations around the world are taking precautionary measures to curb the virus by cancelling big-ticket events — as they should.  Here, we dive into an event-level analysis to examine the day-by-day impacts of major event cancellations on short-term rental revenues.

Mobile World Congress: Barcelona, Spain

The Mobile World Congress is an international trade show focusing primarily on the mobile communications industry. Taking place in late February, it’s an event that usually reels in over 100,000 visitors from around the world. In early February of 2020, it was announced the event would be cancelled over Coronavirus health concerns.

Over the 4-day event in 2019, hosts in Barcelona earned an average of $1.75 million per day. In 2020, that number sunk to $1.08 million — a 38% drop in average daily revenue.

South by Southwest: Austin, Texas

Austin’s SXSW music and arts festival represents arguably the most eye-popping year-on-year dropoff (certainly of any event in the United States). For years, Austin’s springtime festival has beckoned tourists from around the world for its week-long gathering.

In 2020, however, things are likely to be a bit different.

The Coronavirus-induced cancellation has caused significant losses compared to 2019. In fact, whereas the festival earned property managers $16.1 million over the 10-day stretch in 2019, this year’s projections are topping out at $9.8 million.

Austin Revenue - Coronavirus Effect

Huku Kwetu | vacation Rentals

Impact on Average Daily Rates

In times of crisis and uncertainty, it’s not uncommon for hosts and property managers to incentivize travel by lowering their advertised rates. That’s essentially the foundation of a sound revenue management strategy.  In the chart below, we’ve mapped out how short-term rental operators are altering their rates in response to the Coronavirus.

What’s interesting here is the difference between available prices in urban locations and those in leisure travel locations. Destination-based hosts are being highly proactive and have lowered rates until the summer.  On the other hand, prices of accommodations in big cities remain largely unchanged.

Also, it’s interesting to note that for the first time in over 5 years of tracking vacation rental data, AirDNA is noticing booked rates higher than advertised rates for the summer months.

Huku Kwetu | Us Rates

Huku Kwetu | Short-Term House Rentals

Why Short-Term Rentals are More Immune to the Impacts of the Virus

In order to provide some context to the data, here are some crucial ways in which short-term rentals are more resistant to the impacts of the Coronavirus than hotels, cruises, and airlines:


  • Vacation rentals are often in more remote locations with less direct exposure to other travellers
  • Vacation rental guests often visit destinations within driving distance which allows them to bypass the potential risks of airline travel
  • Because vacation rentals are booked further in advance than hotels (and in larger groups), cancelling is often more cumbersome
  • Vacation rentals impose tougher cancellation policies that motivate travellers to stick with their plans


Given all the inherent uncertainties surrounding Covid-19, there are a few reliable takeaways from its ongoing impact on global short-term rental markets.

First, it’s important to note that the impacts are highly localized — that is, the markets affected are largely limited to where the virus actually is. This may seem obvious, but it’s important to recognize that the vast majority of vacation rental markets are not in all-out panic mode.

For that reason, the US market looks, for the most part, unscathed through the end of February and into early March. Aside from some large event cancellations, the vast majority of cities are still remaining stable.

In that same vein, booking behaviour is also highly dependent on the destination type. Leisure travel locations are far more removed from the crisis whereas urban spots are well within its crosshairs.

As is the case with all other industries, the relationship between the Coronavirus and global STR markets is highly dynamic and evolving by the hour. While current projections point towards an early-summer recovery, the true impacts have yet to be seen.

Stay tuned as AirDNA will follow up with weekly updates on the ongoing impact of the Coronavirus on vacation rental markets around the world.

Written by Karibu Qwetu • March 16, 2020
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