Study: 72% of Americans prefer hotels and resorts to vacation rentals

When it comes to vacation travel, more than seven in 10 Americans prefer hotels and resorts over vacation rentals like Airbnbs, according to a ValuePenguin survey of more than 1,000 Americans.

The respondents said the reason mostly has to do with more amenities, safety protocols and on-site resources for those who plan to get some work done while on vacation. Vacation rentals do have appeal for larger travel groups, however.

Key findings

  • Americans overwhelmingly prefer hotels and resorts to vacation rentals/timeshares, but transparent pricing isn’t a large factor. Among survey respondents, 72% said they would rather stay in a hotel. The top reasons cited include better amenities (37%), ease of booking (33%), more people available for service (32%) and on-site dining and bars (31%).
  • Despite more popularity among hotels and resorts, more guests have had a negative experience at a hotel. While 44% of respondents who’ve stayed at a hotel or resort said they’ve had a negative experience, only 29% of previous vacation rental guests say the same.
  • Consumers are willing to spend more for their preferred lodging type, and many don’t bother to compare prices between alternatives. Six in 10 would gladly shell out more cash for the type of lodging they prefer, and 54% of respondents don’t even bother comparing shopping between the two lodging categories.
  • Many Americans plan to work remotely while traveling this year, and most think hotels and resorts are better-suited for business travel. Of the one in three respondents who plan to log in to work while vacationing, nearly 60% will stay at a hotel or resort when doing so.
  • Travelers think vacation rentals are best for large gatherings like family reunions or a trip with friends, while preferring hotels for business travel and international trips. Though hotels and resorts took the top spot no matter the trip purpose, vacation rentals were popular options for family reunions and trips with friends (44% and 43%, respectively).

The popularity of vacation rentals did seem to increase during the pandemic, however. Among those who said their lodging preferences changed due to the pandemic, 20% used to prefer hotels and resorts but now prefer vacation rentals, while 15% said the opposite.

As of now, however, consumers have more faith in hotels and resorts when it comes to staying safe and sanitary versus vacation rental companies (74% versus 26%).

The top reasons for preferring hotels over vacation rentals have little to do with saving money, and more to do with enjoying comforts and services while away.

For those who do prefer vacation rentals, having a more personal feel, access to a full kitchen and staying in more unique locales were the main attractions. Not having to dine out for every meal and being able to entertain large groups within the rental can also save you a huge amount of money on a trip.

While millennials prefer hotels and resorts, they are the most likely group to prefer vacation rentals: 32% said so, versus 29% of Gen Z and 28% of Gen X.

Hotels also had a much higher preference among international travelers, and those planning a beach vacation or wellness-focused trip. Trips with friends and family reunions, however, saw a closer split with more than four in 10 saying a vacation rental was the way to go.