If you want to have a successful vacation rental, you need to find ways to make it stand out from the rest.
By successful, I mean we not only make enough money to pay the mortgage and all other bills associated with running the rental, but we make extra money on top of that.
Once we have paid the mortgage off, we’ll be earning enough to help fund our retirement.
Check out our VRBO rental HERE.
The following are the key success factors I’ve learned from running an Airbnb/VRBO rental.
If you have any questions, please let me know in the comments!
TABLE OF CONTENTS
1 – Pick the right property
The first and most crucial step to having a successful vacation rental is to pick the right property. You want to make sure you’re in a desirable location that will attract guests.
Consider the proximity to popular attractions, the safety of the area, and how well other rentals in the area are doing.
Before purchasing the home that we turned into a rental, I studied the success of nearby rentals for a year. I could see that the rentals in the area did well and that the market wasn’t oversaturated.
Below is a picture of the views from our rental property. (A key factor in why we chose to invest in this location.)
2 – Invest in high-quality furnishings that are easy to care for
When it comes to furnishing your rental, you’ll want to get quality pieces that are easy to care for. I would not suggest buying the most expensive furniture. Look for easy-to-clean and maintain items that won’t break your budget.
I love my bed frames that are easy to vacuum under. I hate my lazy boy reclining couches that are heavy to move and clean under.
I’m keeping the couches for now because my guests like them, but I plan to buy something more manageable to clean under in the future.
All of the couches in my rental are leather. I like the ease of wiping them clean. I allow low shedding dogs on my property and this makes clean-up easy. And I have not had any problems with dogs scratching the couches.
I’d also suggest buying coffee tables and end tables that don’t have extra spots to dust. The coffee and end tables that I have all have an added shelf below that I have to kneel down to dust.
I know what you’re thinking, I must be lazy if I can’t take a few extra minutes to dust something, but when you have a short amount of time to get an entire home cleaned for the next guest, you won’t want anything extra to clean.
3 – Provide amenities that guests will love
Make sure your rental has popular amenities that guests will love plus something unique to make it stand out.
We also have a fire pit and roasting sticks for s’mores. This gives our guests a fun activity to do in the evening.
Guests also love our game room which includes a flat-screen TV, Playstation, yard-size Connect 4, ping pong table, and several games.
Does your property have access to a pool, hot tub, walking trails, or shopping? Be sure to share your unique amenities in your rental description.
4 – Provide high-quality bedding, towels, and toiletries
Your guests will appreciate comfortable linens and fancy soaps and shampoos.
I purchase hotel soap sets from Amazon, and my guests often comment on how much they enjoy them.
I also buy new sets of sheets and towels every few years. Your guests will write raving reviews if the linens and mattresses are comfortable.
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5 – Stock your kitchen with all necessary appliances and cookware
Your guests will need a fully stocked kitchen to prepare their meals.
Make sure you have all of the major appliances and enough smaller appliances, dishes, and cookware for your guests.
I also like to leave some basic spices in the cupboard so that my guests don’t have to buy them.
Cook a few meals in your kitchen to see if you have everything necessary to make a good meal.
6 – Take fantastic photos of your property
Make sure you take professional-quality photos of your rental.
Hire a professional photographer if you need to. The investment will be worth it when you see how much better your listing looks with great photos.
If you take the photos yourself, take pictures during the daytime with good lighting, and make sure the property is clean and staged well.
I take my own photos, but I spend a long time getting the right shot to showcase my home in the best way. I then edit the images to make the color and lighting appealing.
7 – Write an accurate and appealing description
Be honest in your description of the property. Don’t try to hide any flaws because guests will find them eventually, and they will be disappointed.
In my rental description, I share that we have internet, but that it is not high-speed. This saves me from disappointed guests that might give me a bad review if I were to advertise high-speed internet.
On the other hand, make sure to highlight the best features of your rental.
Share with renters what you love about the home and area. Tell them what amenities you have included in the house to make it unique.
Make sure your description is free of grammar and spelling errors. Have someone proofread it for you if you need to. I use Grammarly to spell-check everything I write.
8 – Set a competitive price
You want to make sure you are priced competitively with other vacation rentals in your area.
If you are too high, potential guests will look elsewhere. If you are too low, guests will question the quality of your rental.
The best way to find a competitive price is to look at what similar vacation rentals in your area are charging and price yourself accordingly.
Both Airbnb and VRBO will offer suggestions on what to charge for rent. These suggestions come from analyzing data they have for rentals in your area, making it valuable. However, you should make the final decision on the price.
Sometimes, the rates I get suggested from VRBO and Airbnb are way too high or low.
9 – List your rental on multiple vacation rental websites
The more places your rental is listed, the more likely it is to be booked.
To list on more than one platform, I have instant book turned on on VRBO, and Airbnb guests must message me to book. I have a calendar where I keep a detailed schedule of guests bookings on both platforms.
10 – Send renters detailed instructions about the home
Once a guest has booked your rental, send them a welcome message with detailed instructions about the home.
I send my guests several pages of information that include how to access the home, all supplies in the house, and things to do in the area.
I include information about check-in and check-out times, how to get the door code, and my favorite restaurants nearby.
The more information you can give your guests, the better. They will appreciate not having to contact you with every little question they have. And it will save you a lot of time answering questions for guests.
11 – Provide clear instructions at your rental home
I keep a binder at my rental home that includes all important instructions that I sent to renters at booking. This way, they can easily find helpful information like nearby restaurants, things to do in the area, and how to work things at the home.
I also put a sheet on the fridge with the check-out procedures and most important information like my contact info and how to access the internet.
12 – Keep your rental home clean and maintained well
Your rental should be clean and well-maintained at all times. Your renter will notice how well your home is cared for the minute they walk in the door.
You need to either hire a good maid or clean the home yourself. For my rental, I do a mix of both. I like to clean it myself sometimes to organize the cupboards and do a deep cleaning.
My husband maintains the property and often visits to ensure everything is in working order. If something needs to be fixed, he will either do it himself or find a good handyman.
You’ll also need to consider if you need to set up a garbage collection service or if you will remove the trash from the property yourself.
13 – Be a friendly host!
Being a pleasant host goes a long way!
Make sure you are available to answer any questions your guests may have during their stay. My guests have my cell phone number, and I try to respond to questions as soon as possible.
When I reply to guests, I always try to sound happy to help them. This will pay off when guests write a review of you.
If something goes wrong at the home, respond quickly with how you will remedy the situation. Be prepared to fix items promptly or offer a partial refund if applicable.
The following is a review from one of my guests. It shows how much renters appreciate a responsive host and carefully planned property.
“Much needed family rest. We enjoyed our stay at the cove! All my questions and needs were answered promptly. The home was decorated so nice. The sheets are heaven! Everything you could possibly need to cook for your family is provided, just add food! The children and adults had so much to do that we were never board. I’m already planning to come back! Thank you for the wonderful adventure.”
There are many things to consider when becoming a vacation rental host. But if you start with the right property and prepare it well, you will be successful.
Hosting is a great way to earn an extra income while helping others experience a memorable vacation.
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