Research Shows Vacation Homes Hot for the Summer

In the age of Airbnb, HomeAway, and HomeToGo, it’s no secret that consumers are opting for other ways to vacation besides hotel and resort stays. And while the options noted are generally short-term accommodations, it appears that consumers are also choosing to buy vacation homes as an investment, and that investment is a boost to the local economy in Kissimmee/Osceola County. The theory was recently proven by a research study conducted on behalf of Experience Kissimmee by the Dick Pope Sr. Institute (DPI) for Tourism Studies at the UCF Rosen College of Hospitality Management.

Under the direction of Dr. Robertico Croes, Associate Dean of Administration & Finance and a professor at Rosen College, researchers working in collaboration with the team at Experience Kissimmee, compared consumer behavior in 2008, during the economic downturn, to habits in 2016, after the economy rebounded. They found that consumers were willing to pay an average price of $269,000 for a vacation home in a location and climate like the Kissimmee/Osceola County area, which provided them with value, a desired lifestyle and safety. The economic impact of the vacation home ownership in the Kissimmee/Osceola County area was significant; the average vacation homeowner stays in the second home an average of 32 days and spends approximately $10,666 in that time. That $10,000+ spent did not include additional monies spent on property management fees ($5,213.45), utility expenses ($4,507.11), and property tax ($4,227.12), furnishings for the vacation home ($4,058.65), and mortgage interest ($3,073.14).  The total annual expenditures related to vacation home ownership amounted to just over $31,400.

The vacation home industry in Osceola County attracted nearly 2.1 million visitors in 2016, compared to 1.3 million in 2008, a jump of almost 100 percent. More than 81,000 vacationers had their heads in beds on a daily basis, and each person staying in one vacation home spent on average of nearly $138 per person per day. The total direct spending per day was estimated at nearly $12 million, an uptick from the numbers documented in the 2008 report.

The comparative study commissioned by Experience Kissimmee will aid the agency which promotes tourism in south Central Florida to focus its efforts. “This information helps us to better understand this unique market and who the customer is so that we can better direct and target our vacation home marketing efforts,” said Misty Johantgen, CDME, Chief Operating Office for Experience Kissimmee. “From a continuity and consistency perspective, we felt it prudent to work with DPI on the updated research, Dr. Croes and his team were a delight to work with, again.”

The Florida Vacation Rental Managers Association worked with Experience Kissimmee and DPI to survey vacation homeowners about their habits and lifestyles.

“Consumer confidence is on the upswing,” said Dr. Robertico Croes. “The numbers in this research study demonstrate that and provide important data for those in the hospitality industry to formulate plans for continued economic growth based on the results.”

With summer just around the corner, Experience Kissimmee is anticipating the vacation home market could heat up once again. In 2008 the total economic impact from vacationers in Kissimmee/Osceola County was $1.7 billion, in 2016 it was $2.12 billion. This summer could be a banner year as gas prices level off, making driving vacations desirable, and the theme parks in the area are opening new attractions at the end of May, just in time for summer vacations. Experience Kissimmee is cautious about predicting increases, we’ll have to wait until fall to see the final numbers.

— (April 25, 2017)