LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — For months now, people have been cooped up in their homes, keeping their distance and taking precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19. In Kentucky, restrictions are being lifted, and for many, they are hopeful that means much needed tourism and travel dollars will be spent.
Wayne Ebersohl and his partner, Rachel Johnson, have five Airbnb rentals in Lexington. They said when the pandemic hit, the cancellations were immediate.
"They just cancelled. They just dropped like flies, " Ebersohl said.
They said business was dead through March and April, and then in mid-May things began to pick back up, and now business is booming and they think their special themed rooms are helping.
"They're looking for a vacation within the location that they're going to," Ebersohl said.
Of their five rentals, they have a Game of Thrones themed room and another aviation themed room. They believe it is the special touches that go into these rooms that have helped them win back their business.
"It's definitely paying off," Johnson said. "You know when you go in to any kind of new venture you do your due diligence, you do your research, and what we saw is a lot of spaces were mimicking hotels...white comforters, very clean, but it was a hotel experience. We wanted to differentiate ourselves from that by offering the themed experience."
For guests concerned about cleanliness, Airbnb has new protocols in accordance with the CDC, and hosts in line with those requirements receive a special call out on the Airbnb website.
Taking a peek inside the minds of travelers, nationally, Airbnb said guests are searching for places with pools or allow pets. Their research shows people are not traveling far, no more than 300 miles on average, and some good news across the board is that from June 1 to June 20, Airbnb said US domestic family bookings actually grew by 43% compared to the same time last year, which is a sign people may be ready to test the waters, something Ebersohl and Johnson are seeing themselves.
"I think people are still cautious, but there's a lot of pent up demand and so we're definitely seeing it," Ebersohl explained.