Even though we’re still confined to our homes trying to stay healthy and safe during the COVID-19 crisis, the longer days and warmer temperatures have us dreaming of summertime and what we want to do when the pandemic is in our rearview mirror.
Here at Shore Summer Rentals, as a leading online source for Jersey Shore vacation rentals, we’ve recently received some attention from media outlets who can’t help but wonder: How is the tourism industry handling these difficult times?
Below is an excerpt from an enlightening interview that our owner, Maria Kirk, did with Accuweather.
Q: HOW WERE RENTAL BOOKINGS BEFORE THE CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC?
A: Our website, Shore Summer Rentals, is a “book direct with owner” platform, so we do not track bookings, per se. However, we do track website traffic, owner email inquiries, and phone calls on listings. Our traffic and rental inquiries for January and February were up significantly, compared to the same time frame last year.
Q: WHAT HAPPENED IN MARCH?
A: Once the shutdowns and social distancing were put in place, interest cut off dramatically. Owner inquiries have been down 75% over the last month.
Q: HAVE YOU HAD MANY CANCELLATIONS?
A: Again, as we are a “book directly with owner” platform, we do not handle cancellations. Only a handful of my owners have said they have a couple people wishing to cancel. For the most part, people are waiting this out — which I feel is the smart thing to do, because if this shutdown is lifted in time for summer, there will be a rush of people looking for places at the New Jersey Shore, and inventory will become limited very quickly.
Q: YOU THINK IT’S A WAITING GAME FOR TRAVELERS?
A: Absolutely. We need to see how this plays out and listen to the facts from doctors and our governor. My best advice is patience from owners and renters at this time.
Q: DO YOU HAVE ANY ADVICE FOR PEOPLE WHO HAVE ALREADY BOOKED RESERVATIONS?
A: Hang tight! There’s hope this will be over and many people that normally do not go to the New Jersey Shore for vacation will suddenly be looking to the shore for a vacation, instead of traveling far. This could be one of the busiest booking seasons at the Jersey Shore, so hold on to your June, July, and August rentals for now if you can!
Q: WHAT ABOUT FOR PEOPLE CONSIDERING MAKING RESERVATIONS?
A: It doesn’t hurt to look now and make arrangements with the property owners as vacation rental demand in NJ will increase dramatically once “social distancing” recommendations are relaxed as tourists will be ready to travel locally to avoid flying to their destination. We are asking owners to work directly with renters for a fair solution such as a credit for another time or a full refund, if they can, if their town does not lift restrictions by the time the renter is due to travel. Each individual town has their own tentative end date for the ban. Those dates get evaluated every couple of weeks by each individual township with the guidance of the Governor’s office.
Q: ARE YOU WORRIED FOR YOUR BUSINESS?
A: I am most worried about my owners who rely on this four-month time frame of rental income to pay their mortgages and other home expenses. The NJ Shore only has four months to generate their income, as the season here is very short. As far as my business, it will be a challenge for us, but we will make it through just as we have with Hurricane Sandy, the 11.625% NJ Shore tax debacle that Governor Murphy slapped New Jersey renters with last summer, and several other obstacles we have endured over the past 17 years. If the summer is a wash, I truly hope there will be help for rental and business owners by our government. We are tough and resilient and are not going anywhere!
Q: HOW ARE YOU DOING PERSONALLY?
A: I am doing fine, worried about the health of my family, friends and the country and sad for the people who are dying and suffering. But I remain hopeful that we will come out of this stronger, and I have been reminded not to take the small things for granted any longer.
Whether you’re a rental property owner or someone hoping to rent a beach house in New Jersey this summer, the Shore Summer Rentals team sends our well-wishes to you and your family. Stay healthy, safe, and strong, and if you have questions or need our help in any way, please contact our team today.
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