The Future Vacation.

Many of us no doubt have memories of vacationing as children. Good memories so good you can only recall them in tandem with the dread of going home. Bad memories too, of course. Maybe you, like me, first experienced food poisoning while traveling with family on a long road trip. Some of you will remember those vacations were at hotels. A lucky few will have vacationed in their family’s second (or third or fourth) home, and finally the rest of us will have stayed with family or friends, very likely in a parent’s hometown. How many of us used vacations to spend with family, after all?

These are all reasons why vacationing makes for an interesting conceit in real estate and residential design.

According to some recent Realtor Association statistics, second home sales have gone up while investment home sales have stagnated. However, further data shows that more people are investing in vacation homes to rent out, and more investment home owners are using their flippable real estate for their own vacation purposes.

Buyers listed many reasons buyers for purchasing a vacation home:  80 percent want to use the property for vacations or as a family retreat, 27 percent plan to use it as a primary residence in the future, 23 percent plan to rent to others and 23 percent wanted to diversify their investments or saw a good investment opportunity.
Fifty-five percent of investment buyers said they purchased for rental income, 30 percent wanted to diversify their investments or saw a good investment opportunity, and 20 percent wanted to use the home for vacations or as a family retreat. *Percentages reflect multiple answer selections.

In other words, the vacation is changing. This is due in no small part to companies like Airbnb, which turn vacation renting into internet-based “micro-entrepreneurship.” It is estimated that Airbnb processes more bookings than the entire Hilton footprint in the world (that’s over 525k rooms).

Collaborative Consumption is one of the technical jargons used to describe this economy, and by all appearances it’s a lucrative and beneficial service for all involved. Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky has gone on to suggest this new win-win economy will, however, require redefining the way we describe travel. In a recent interview he suggested people will no longer travel anymore, but become mobile; spending more time away from primary residence, in places that feel less like temporary abodes and more like time-shares.

Regardless of what Airbnb sees in the future of travel and housing, two things are assuredly happening in the world that will shift the way homes are developed. On the one hand is the well-documented uptick in median age around the developed world, along with decreasing size of family, what many call the population crisis. Ironically, the housing market has been growing regardless. Many of us have chosen to live on our own, in homes that do not currently but eventually could accommodate for a future of multiple generations.

On the other hand is the constantly evolving work schedule.
There was a time not long ago when our break periods were a matter of fact. Everyone took lunch off, and everyone stayed home during the holidays or took a couple weeks off in August. Those days are long gone, however. Thursday became the new Friday, and telecommuter populations have exploded across most major industries. This has also led to coining of the phrase “working vacation,” whereby we keep indoors or near internet signals, or adapt our primary work spaces to feel less like work and more like play.

Finally, using the new tools of the internet and mobile technology, we find ourselves in a brave new world, where vacation is replaced by vacation-mode. This week, as we work in vacation-mode from our part-time rentals, thinking about the house of the future, we’d like to think about how this will affect design and architecture. It’s an architecture that will leverage the average homeowner’s need for increasing amounts of private space, against the average traveler’s willingness to share rooms and utilities with perfect strangers. Perhaps instead of the demise of the word “travel,” as Airbnb founder Brian Chesky has foretold, we will see the demise of the phrase “staying in.”