Iceland is a Nordic island country that is situated in the North Atlantic Ocean and is known for being very sparsely populated. More than 65% of its population resides in its capital city of Reykjavik. The country is one of the most popular European destinations to travel to because of its raw, scenic beauty and the fact that it lies in the middle of Europe and North America. There are various unique travel trends in Iceland and PriceLabs’ data found a prominent length of stay trend in the country that is seldom talked about.
Unlike many destinations where the peak season has a longer length of stay, the length of stay trends in parts of Iceland is consistent (or sometimes inverted!) between the high and low demand seasons. Iceland is frequented by travelers predominantly during the summer months, i.e., from June to September, with one-night stays being the most common in some parts even during high season – in this article, we dive into some data that shows the travel trends in Iceland and try to understand why this might be happening.
However, July and August are the peak seasons, with most travelers choosing to travel to the country as these are the summer months. Iceland has 24 hours of daylight during the summers that allow travelers to safely enjoy the wilderness of the country. It is convenient for family travelers to do adventure activities without having their kids covered in four layers of clothing.
Types of Travelers Visiting Iceland
1. Solo travelers
The Nordic country is the perfect destination for solo travelers. The country provides a blend of exotic and unique locations while being one of the safest countries in the world. The crime rates in the island nation are meager. Also, hitch-hiking is a common practice among travelers and locals.
2. Nature Lovers
The nordic country is not an island covered in ice but a scenic nation that has everything including majestic glaciers, cracked lava fields, gushing geysers, green fjords, and geothermal lagoons. Its location between two tectonic plates present in the mid-Atlantic range results in it being the country with the highest number of active volcanoes.
Nature lovers choose to visit Iceland to see all the pristine landscapes in one single country.
3. Wildlife Enthusiasts
Iceland is a wildlife enthusiast’s dream. The country is home to a huge array of exotic seabirds that come to nest on coastal cliffs across the country in huge colonies during the breeding season. The country waters also house approximately 24 species of whales. In fact, whale watching is one of the most common adventure sports in Reykjavic.
4. Adventure Seekers
Iceland is a country defined by its outdoors, and its portfolio of adventure/adrenaline activities is enough to rival New Zealand for the title of the world’s adventure capital.
Iceland offers scenic beauty to hikers. Travelers can hike on grassy meadows bursting with wildflowers, lava fields, black-sand deserts, and icefields. Almost every Icelandic town boasts an outdoor geothermal pool or lagoon. There are also opportunities for white water rafting, ice-climbing, horse-riding, scuba-diving, visiting man-made ice caves, quad biking, snowmobiling, skiing, and so on.
5. Fantasy Nerds
‘Iceland is a country of striking and sometimes supernatural beauty, which is matched by its rich and extensive folklore.’ Icelandic population believes in the existence of elves, trolls, Vikings, ghosts, and supernatural beings. They even believe that people can see them till now in the sites rich with thousands of years of history. Fantasy nerds prefer traveling to the country to know more about its mythical history and folklore.
Minimum Length of Stay and travel trends in Iceland
The major cities in Iceland primarily lie in the Northern Region of Iceland. These cities include:
As you can see in the graphs above, the booking length of these bookings is highest for 7-14 days followed by 3-4 days. This is because most people traveling to the city have planned their trips in advance. The longer stay can be a result of the fact that most of the cities and popular destinations in northern Iceland are a day trip from the capital city.
The city also offers many activities that tourists can participate in, resulting in them choosing to stay in the town for longer durations. These activities include whale watching, sea angling, cooking classes, horseback riding, volcano hiking, and craft beer tasting. In addition, Reykjavik recently added the Sky Lagoon, an enormous natural infinity pool.
There are also significant bookings observed for 29+ days. This may be due to the fact that Reykjavik is the capital city and there may be some people choosing to stay there for business purposes.
Reykjavik is one of the two cities in the country with an international airport. The shorter length of stay (1-2 days) can result from travelers staying in the city for a layover while traveling to different destinations. Most smaller cities in Europe and the U.S. don’t have direct flights, and many connecting flights go through Reykjavik.
Popular Cities in Northern Iceland
The minimum length of stay observed in the northern Iceland cities is two days on an average. However, as you can see in the graph above, the more common booking length is that of 1 day. The Length of Stay trend in northern Iceland results from the fact that most of these cities are a short drive from each other. It is also easy for tourists to cover all the popular destinations in the city within a day. Most popular destinations include waterfalls, rock formations, craters, and geothermal areas.
People who stay in the cities mentioned above for 3-4 days may have plans to do adventure activities in the area, which takes up those extra days. Some common adventure activities in the area include hiking up Hverfell, climbing inside Grjótagjá lava cave, and soaking in Myvatn Nature Baths, among others. Nature lovers and adventure seekers may form most of the traveler population to these areas.
Popular destinations in Southern Iceland
- Northern lights over Gullfoss Waterfall (in Summers)
- Þingvellir National Park
- Geysir Geothermal Area
- Skógafoss Waterfall
- Skógar Museum
- Seljalandsfoss Waterfall
- Vik Village
- black sands of at Reynisfjara Beach
The Length of Stay trends observed in southern Iceland is similar to those observed in the northern part of the country. Southern Iceland is more frequented by nature lovers, fantasy nerds, and wildlife enthusiasts. Most of the popular destinations in this region are a short distance away from each other. Road trips usually cover these areas, and travelers tend to stay at one destination for a single day to save money and time. Most cities have one or two prominent features, and travelers usually visit the region to explore those famous spots.
Some travelers may stay an extra day or two to enjoy the unexplored places in these cities. Some wildlife enthusiasts may also choose to do so when visiting the Þingvellir National Park and wildlife sanctuary. However, as you can see from the graph above, 2-4 days booking frequency is significantly lower than 1-day bookings.
Why Do Travelers Prefer Vacation Rentals?
There is a shortage of accommodation during peak seasons, so travelers switch to vacation rentals when looking for a place to stay. Many travelers prioritize staying at a vacation rental over a hotel. Wondering why? Here are a few reasons:
1. Added Amenities
Vacation rentals offer guests extra amenities like a kitchen, washer and dryer, and entertainment systems like DVDs, books, games, etc. Staying at a vacation rental provides most of the amenities a traveler can find at home. The liberty to cook their food and do their laundry works well with most people these days.
2. Size of the rental
When booking a hotel room, travelers will only get one room with an attached bathroom (until you book a full-fledged suite). Then, for a much more reasonable price, they can get a much bigger space with a bedroom, kitchen, bathroom, living room, balcony, and sometimes a garden or a backyard. Some travelers, specifically those traveling in a big group or with family, prefer this arrangement over a hotel.
3. Privacy at a backpackers budget
Most backpackers are looking for a cheap accommodation option. They usually choose hostels, but these days vacation rentals provide private rooms and sometimes entire studio apartments at the budget of a hostel. Travelers prefer the privacy of having your room rather than sharing it with six other strangers for the same or a little extra cost.
4. Limited contact with others
The pandemic has put people on edge regarding coming in contact with other people. Living in vacation rentals, especially those that offer the service of self-check-ins, have limited peer-to-peer contact and give more control to the travelers over their exposure to the virus.
5. Fraternizing with the Locals
When someone travels to another country, they usually want to immerse themselves in that nation’s culture. They want to learn how locals live and live like them, even for a day or a week. Staying at a vacation rental and sharing a house with a local gives them this opportunity.
They can hear stories about the region directly from the locals. They can also get restaurant, sightseeing and activities suggestions from them and see the country from the eyes of someone who lives there.
6. Camping is not allowed everywhere.
Most people on a road trip prefer to camp for the night. Although camping is allowed at proper camping parks in various regions of the country, one can’t set up a camp just about anywhere.
It might not always be feasible for the traveler to travel to a camping ground to set a camp for the night, and they choose to live in a vacation rental instead.
How to Optimize your Bookings Based on Travel Trends in Iceland?
Now that we understand the travel trends and minimum length of stay trends of different regions in the country, let’s talk about how you as a host can optimize your occupancy based on these. Since you can’t set higher minimum stay restrictions without risking your potential bookings, you need to devise other ways to encourage longer stays. I have listed a few strategies you can adopt to promote longer stays and optimize your bookings.
1. Weekly and Monthly Discounts
The best way to encourage longer stays is to provide vacation rentals to travelers at a discounted rate for more extended stays. You can offer weekly and monthly discounts to your guests who may be looking for a more extended stay at the location, given the country’s beauty. You can adopt various Airbnb pricing strategies to suit your vacation rental needs.
You may also attract guests who will stay at your rental for a longer duration and cover all the nearby cities and sightseeing locations. They can do this while staying at your rental instead of booking a new one in every city they go to.
2. Strategically Charging Airbnb Cleaning Fee
Set an Airbnb Cleaning Fee that is not too high but will be more reasonable for your guests if they choose to stay for a more extended period. A cleaning fee of $100 will seem high for a one-night stay. However, if the guest decides to stay for three nights, they will be paying $33.33 as the cleaning fee for each night.
They may choose to stay at one vacation rental and find a way to explore the places in that city instead of paying a cleaning fee every day every time they go to a new city.
3. Charge higher for one night and give discounts for more extended stays
Some property managers show a higher per night charge to their guests. However, this charge is significantly reduced when they choose to book for more than one night. Pricing differently for different numbers of nights will encourage your guests to book for more days that will be more cost-effective for them.