When you make the decision to turn your property into a vacation rental, there’s a lot to take into consideration. It’s important to strike a healthy balance between making the best financial decisions, creating an alluring atmosphere, and outfitting your property appropriately for your incoming guests.
Here are 6 essential tips to help you maximize your dollars spent, your rental space, and the experience of your future guests:
1. Protect Your Property
Furnishing your rental property requires a significant investment upfront. The best way to protect your initial investment is to make solid decisions from the start. It's a smart idea to opt for the warranty on any item purchased for your property - from appliances and furniture, to the actual labor that's done on the premises.
Avoid installing carpet in main living spaces and entry areas, as wear and tear will be harder to hide. Opt instead for laminate flooring, or a durable tile. While these options might incur a higher cost upfront, they’re much easier to take care of and keep clean over the life of your rental; helping you maximize your total dollars spent. When spills or accidents happen, clean-up will be a breeze.
Decide ahead of time whether or not to allow pets. While allowing pets opens you up to a larger group of prospective renters, some dogs can be very destructive. If you do choose to allow dogs, minimize grassy outdoor areas when possible, so there's less for a dog to dig up and destroy.
2. Know Your Target Guest
It's important to establish your target renter, prior to putting your property on the market - so you can furnish accordingly. Will your property be geared towards families with children, or a primarily adult crowd? Themed bedrooms can go a long way with kids of all ages; think fun jungle, beach, desert, or mountain themes. Don't be afraid to use bold colors and accessories in the bedrooms, to make for a unique and memorable experience for your guests. Remember this isn't a long-term or permanent living space; your visitors are only staying temporarily, so make the space stand out as something different from their everyday home. It can really add a special feel to their vacation memories - and leave them wanting to return next year!
Strategically select your furnishings to match your property’s location. If you own space near the beach, include beach chairs and umbrella, towels, sand toys, etc. If you own a cabin in a cold location, be sure to have extra blankets, firewood (if applicable), and snow sleds on location for renters to enjoy. If you advertise your space as one that will sleep up to eight people, make sure you also have enough seating to accommodate all of those people.
3. Stock Up on Supplies
Many people will opt for a vacation rental home (versus a hotel) because they seek the comforts of a home away from home - your job is to deliver that! Stock your kitchen with all the essentials, and include this in the listing; it can be a huge selling point of a rented home compared to a hotel. With on-site conveniences, your guests can save money by preparing meals at your property, instead of going out or ordering food every night. Durable pots and pans are good to have on hand, as well as enough table settings to accommodate all guests. Your pantry should have all the standard condiments; salt and pepper, olive oil, coffee, and some basic spices.
Other home essentials – like toilet paper, paper towels, sponges, and dish soap – go a long way towards making your guests feel welcome. Keep plenty of spare bathroom towels and sheets on hand, especially if guests won’t have access to an on-site washing machine and dryer. You’re best off opting for durable white towels and sheets, which can be bleached if stained; plus, the look of clean white linens conveys to your guests that the items they’re using have been taken care of, and cleaned well.
4. Implement Smart Décor
When planning out your rental unit, think about how you live in your home. Which objects are more prone to spills, or wear and tear? Which areas of your own home do you struggle to keep clean, or tidy? Use your own living space as a guide to smart design in your rental space.
It's best to avoid solid colored bedspreads, as stains will show up easily and quickly. Instead, opt for a multi-colored or patterned comforter, which will last you much longer. Purchase window treatments in solid colors, so you can easily match them with fun accent pieces that have more personality; without causing a busy appearance. Clutter (or even the feeling of clutter due to busy, complicated designs) can lead to a disorganized mind, irritation, or stress. Guests appreciate an organized and modern space; one that makes them truly feel like they can relax, and get away from it all.
5. Maximize Comfort
Consider purchasing a sleeper sofa, which allows visitors flexibility to invite friends or family members on their trip – just be sure it’s one that can handle daily use, and won’t hurt your guest’s backs. If you want to include the sleeper sofa when you list the total number of guests that can be accommodated, it pays to do your research. Ensure you get a model that’s comfortable for someone to sleep in for multiple nights in a row. This is an easy way to get some extra positive reviews.
If your property is in a hot or cold climate, make sure you have a solid HVAC system, multiple fans, or space heaters to keep your guests comfortable. Extra blankets always add a nice touch. And of course, wherever possible, provide wireless internet at your property for guests to use. In this day and age, it isn't really an option; it's a necessity. Even if your rental property sits in a remote, mountainous region, where visitors love the idea of going "off the grid" - it's still wise to have a few hot spot areas where Wi-Fi is available.
6. Make It Personal
Don't be afraid to add your own personal touch to your vacation rental home. This is another draw for vacationers, that hotels can't offer - an individual style and personality, which makes people feel like they're visiting their own special place, instead of a commercialized hotel atmosphere. There are likely many reasons you chose to purchase the property initially, so don't hesitate to share that with potential guests! If you have a favorite shell collection or chandelier, put it on display. Make sure your "favorites" match the total décor of your rental unit to ensure a flowing design.
Include maps of the surrounding areas - a small gesture that goes a long way with guests from out of town. Any "Best of the Area" articles or tourist guides will be welcomed resources for visitors. Consider sharing coupons to your favorite ice cream shop or restaurant, so your guests can have fun outings at pre-vetted locations. Purchase some of your favorite books and games and leave them in the unit, for rainy days when renters are stuck indoors. This will help them feel as though they are able to maximize their time while on vacation. It's the little things that really make a space feel friendly, inviting, and like a true home away from home.
Hannah Tucker is the mastermind behind product management at TheBackStore.com. Hannah has a (healthy) shoe obsession and resides in the beautiful and sunny San Diego. She has a fascination for ergonomics and its effect on workplace culture and productivity.