One rental operator said bookings stand at 60 percent, while in prior years they would have been fully booked months ago.
In this June 11, 2022, file photo, early morning light shines on shops on Main Street in Bar Harbor. Credit: Robert F. Bukaty / AP

Vacation rental companies are reporting a slowdown in May and June compared with the last two years.

Rebecca Richardson, owner of Bar Harbor Acadia Cottage Rentals, said the COVID-19 pandemic drove more people to come to Maine because they couldn’t travel overseas or to other parts of the country.

“In 2021 and 2022, people were booking early and staying later,” Richardson said. “Everybody got booked, everyone got every week booked. But that was completely an anomaly.”

Richardson said numbers now are closer to pre-pandemic levels, with rentals sold out during the peak months of July and August. Bar Harbor placed a moratorium on new rental licenses two years ago, which has limited inventory in the region.

Fred Cercena, CEO of Get Away Vacations, said bookings are about 60 percent when, traditionally, rental properties are booked for the entire summer by March. Cercena said a glut of new properties listed by owners on sites like VRBO and inflation are slowing demand. But he said a new strategy to book listings for three days versus seven days appears to be working.

“We have seen that in a couple of properties that we have that are three-night stays,” he said. “They’ve booked a lot in the last month, so we know the strategy works. It’s just getting property owners who for the last 20 years booked out the whole summer with seven-night stays, they’re scratching their heads and saying, ‘how come I’m not doing that this year.’”

Cercena said getting two reservations in one week is allowing rental operators to charge a higher average daily rate for shorter stays.

This article appears through a media partnership with Maine Public.