Short-term rental business shows signs of recovery in Tampa Bay area

With Labor Day weekend just a few days away, some people are regaining confidence in travel safety. Short-term rental property owners say they're seeing the benefits.

“I hate to be so dramatic but it really felt like that was going to come to a screeching halt and not be an option for us anymore,” said Krisy Holland, a Pinellas County vacation rental owner.

Holland said her listings have recovered and she’s regained some financial losses, but she's had to make some changes to the way she does business. Her listing in Seminole now comes with vigorous sanitation, safety measures and booking flexibility.

“People are waiting until last minute to book which is both a struggle and good because when people do cancel, I’ve also had people able to step in and fill in the bookings,” said Holland.

Vacation rental experts said Florida is on the rebound just in time for the holiday weekend.

“Labor Day travel’s been up and we’ve started to see a lot of response,” said Denis Hanks, the executive director of the Florida Vacation Rental Management Association. “Looking at some of the numbers that we’ve seen, it’s spiked up over the last week people that are coming in for Labor Day and doing those last-minute bookings.”

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The FVRMA said the level of recovery varies from region to region.

“I think Tampa compared to other regions of the state may be a little more behind, probably about 8 or 10 percentage points of the rebound in the economy,” said Hanks. “The vacation rental market has been steadily reopening. We’ve seen phase after phase come in, some counties faster than others.”

Experts said they are noticing more people driving to their destinations and being selective about their accommodations.

“I think as far as family travel, we’re seeing much more people leaning towards vacation rentals,” said Hanks.

That’s good news for property owners like Holland who hope to help keep the hospitality industry afloat.

“Working together, we are taking precautions, but it is still an incredible place to come. We are welcoming people, making sure they are safe,” said Holland.

Some property owners in Tampa Bay said customers are asking about booking a full year from now. They also said they are getting more local bookings for people wanting 'staycations.'