The Rise of Non-Traditional Vacation Rentals

The Rise of Non-Traditional Vacation Rentals

Vacation rentals are no longer only available for traditional “homes,” as was the case in the past. Non-traditional vacation rentals are becoming more popular after being named one of the biggest industry trends to watch this year.

HomeAway only observed a 55% year-over-year increase in the number of barn reservations in 2017, a 40% spike in houseboat stays, and an additional 30% gain in treehouse bookings in 2017. Airbnb has witnessed a 700% spike in nature lodge bookings so far this year, a 600% increase in ryokan (traditional Japanese inn) bookings, a 155% increase in yurt bookings, and a 133% increase in RV bookings.

Continue reading to learn more about this expanding trend and what it means for holiday rentals with unusual property owners.

What is an alternate lodging?

Briefly stated, non-hotel options for travelers are often referred to as alternative accommodations. This phrase encompasses not only more conventional vacation rental homes but also home exchanges, camping, housesitting, and Couchsurfing.

Guests now have a wide range of non-traditional options to choose from under the general heading of “vacation rentals.” Additionally, the ongoing influx of brand-new, niche listing sites is assisting proprietors in increasing their visibility and, consequently, their bookings!

Which non-traditional vacation rental kinds are most in demand?

It seems that you may now turn any unusual property you own into a vacation rental business in today’s market. Let’s look at a couple of the property types that are likely to be in demand this year. You’re in for a fully booked season if you have any of the following already.


Farm-to-bed, a possible extension of the well-known phrase “farm-to-table,” is the newest craze in the vacation rental industry. There are several options to draw group reservations in a large, towering barn, whether genuine barns on historic working farms or new buildings meant to resemble barns.

Target group trips, family gatherings, and wedding events when marketing your barn.


Naturally, the water is where you’ll discover the best selection of houseboat rentals. In addition to well-known European cities like Amsterdam, Paris, and London, which have long provided houseboats to visitors, several US locations are also catching on to the concept. San Francisco, Seattle, and the Florida Keys are just a few of the places that are becoming more well-known.

Marketing your houseboat involves focusing on families with older children or vacationing couples (remember: houseboats can be dangerous for small children).

Natural huts

On their trips, many visitors look for solitude, tranquility, and most importantly, nature. According to Lonely Planet, nature lodges “transport tourists out of the city and into lodging that will see them waking up among some of the best scenery in the world.” So it makes sense that reservations for nature lodges have increased so significantly in recent years.

Market your nature lodge by focusing on eco-warriors and conscientious millennials.

Campers and RVs

More than 35 million individuals consider renting an RV each year, said Outdoorsy founder Jeff Cavins. But because conventional rental firms so offer few professionally owned vehicles, many people don’t follow through. Owners of RVs or campers who aren’t utilizing their vehicles to their full potential may have an opportunity to make some additional money this year!

Target the elderly and road trippers while marketing your RV.

Shipping containers

Considering that shipping container design is described as “durable, abundant, and economical” by Architectural Digest, it might be a wise financial decision for someone wishing to purchase a vacation rental property. These tiny houses maximize available space for maximum comfort.

Target families with young children, light travelers, and backpackers when marketing your shipping container.


Treehouses have gotten much media attention recently, and they may be one of the coziest and most romantic of all non-traditional vacation rental options. The most desired home on the whole Airbnb website in 2016 was an Atlanta treehouse! With their promise of being completely immersed in nature, sleeping under the stars, and luxurious finishes, treehouses are drawing a growing number of visitors.

Target outdoor enthusiasts or business visitors are wishing to unwind and connect with nature when marketing your treehouse.


These classic homes (and their various modern iterations) are also becoming more popular as holiday rental options. Airbnb statistics reveal yurt bookings have already climbed dramatically for this year, a trend that is expected to continue whether owners offer a back-to-basics stay or a full-on glamping experience.

Market your yurt by focusing on large groups and festival-goers.

There are various strategies to market your alternative vacation rentals to attract guests. To be able to accept direct reservations and create your distinctive brand, you must, above all, have your bookable website.


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