Tips for Your Vacation Rental: Leave Guests with an Unforgettable Experience
Vacationers who have memorable experiences leave great reviews. Here are comprehensive tips for leaving your guests with a truly impactful experience they won’t soon forget.
When you think back on your favorite vacation rental memories, what was it about that condo or vacation home that made it so memorable? Most likely, it was the little details that, when added together, created a place that was comfortable and enticing.
As a manager or owner of a vacation property, the home-away-from-home that you are offering doesn’t have to look and feel like a hotel in order to keep your renters happily satisfied. While your cleanliness standards should always be very high, it’s the care you take in providing the homey, comfortable details that will delight your guests and keep them coming back time after time. When it’s obvious you’ve furnished the property with your guests’ preferences and comfort in mind, they’ll know you truly care.
And why should you care? Because the rental business is all about repeat customers and positive word-of-mouth, and those are generated by satisfied guests who leave positive reviews. Happy guests are far more likely to write complimentary online reviews, book future dates, and recommend your property to their friends and family than those who find your property merely adequate. With just a little effort and investment, you can reap exponential rewards.
Here are six highly recommended actions you should take when furnishing your vacation property.
Tip 1: Offer Free High-Speed Wifi for Your Guests
It’s the very rare guest who is completely unplugged. Vacationers like having their phones, tablets, and laptops available at a moment’s notice, and free high-speed Wifi is pretty much expected. Whether renters want to update their social media statuses or get a little work done, you will need to offer them a convenient way to do that. In fact, not offering free Wifi will not only incur the wrath of your guests, but most people won’t even consider renting a place that does not offer it as a standard amenity.
Tip 2: Provide Only High-End Home Goods
Furnish your vacation rental with mediocre home goods, and you can expect a lukewarm response. Vacationers are looking for the best their money can get them, and they’ll always go for the most luxurious option in their price range. They feel they deserve the best (they’re spending their hard-earned money, after all!), and they’ll be disappointed—and even angry—with chipboard furniture and shoddy, mismatched second-hand appliances, even if they aren’t paying five-star luxury hotel prices.
But how does stocking a rental home or condo with brand names translate for your bank account? Does treating your guests to high-end home goods mean your bottom line has to go pear-shaped as you shell out tens of thousands of dollars on bedding, furniture, appliances, and décor? Absolutely not. Even mid-range rentals can boast luxurious accouterments while still allowing you to bring in a profit. It’s all in how you shop.
Rule number one is to never buy at retail prices. There are plenty of ways to find practically new brand name house goods for a fraction of the retail price. Online classifieds, like Craig’s List, are one place to start looking. Many cities also have their own local classifieds, as well. Check out garage sales, yard sales, and thrift stores for brand name furniture and appliances that you can have fixed, slipcovered, refinished, or painted to look like something that cost thousands of dollars. Estate sales can yield excellent bargains if you are savvy about retail pricing and can snap up an item or two quickly, before someone else sneaks in and grabs them first.
Many high-end stores offer steep discounts on seconds, samples, or overstock items, but they often don’t advertise the fact. It never hurts to call them and ask, and chances are that neither you nor your guests will ever be able to tell that the item was a second.
Consignment shops offer yet another way to snap up pricey-looking furnishings at low cost. Mercedes Brennan, writer for Chic Retreat blog, suggests checking out consignment shops in lower rent neighborhoods because prices tend to be lower while still yielding real treasures than those in upmarket areas.
Physical auctions or online auction sites like eBay are also fantastic places to snag brand name furnishings of every sort at lower-than-retail prices.
Whether you furnish your rental with top quality home goods all at once or slowly change out existing furnishings, raising the bar on the quality of the home’s accouterments will delight your guests and keep the space occupied far more often.
BONUS TIP: Hiring a professional decorator is a great way to put your high-end home goods in the best possible light. Some decorators can be hired by the hour and will give you invaluable insights into furniture arrangements and color schemes, as well as where to focus your money and energy for the best outcomes as you make changes over time.
Excellent High-End Brand Names for Bed Linens and Home Fabrics:
- Deborah Sharpe Linens
- Westin Home Collection
- Osborne and Little
- Brunschwig & Fils
Excellent High-End Brand Names for Dishes/Cookware:
Excellent High-End Brand Names for Coffee/Espresso Machines:
Excellent High-End Brand Names for Plumbing Fixtures:
Excellent High-End Brand Names for Lighting:
Excellent High-End Brand Names for Furniture and Decor:
Tip 3: Make Sure Your Outdoor Area is Optimized for Comfort
People on vacation are looking to spend time outdoors enjoying the view, the lovely weather, a BBQ or two, and maybe relaxing around a fire in the evening. A great outdoor space is a huge draw for renters—especially for those with large groups, children, or pets—so spend some time turning a blank patio into an outdoor room worthy of being lived in.
Hot Tub or Pool
A rental with a private pool or outdoor hot tub provides immediate gratification for your guests—no treks to the clubhouse or community recreation center required! Even a small pool makes a big impact, ready for hours of fun in the water and sun. Be sure that pools or hot tubs are always sparkling clean and well-maintained.
A couple of tippy metal folding chairs with sagging plastic webbing simply won’t cut it when it comes to creating an outdoor area worthy to be lived in. Seating should be plentiful, comfortable, easily cleaned, and able to withstand the sun, heat, and rain for years. Folding chairs are great because they can be stashed out of the way when not needed, but be sure they are comfortable and in good working order. Outdoor sectionals, built-in seating along concrete walls, waterproof cushions, dining tables and chairs, or even an outdoor bar area turn any vacation rental into an oasis. Whatever level of outdoor seating you provide, be sure that it is comfortable, plentiful, and good-looking.
Outdoor spaces with no shade are only really usable during morning or evening/night hours, when the glaring sun and searing heat aren’t an issue. A combination of sunlit and shady spots makes an outdoor area ideal all day long, inviting guests to kick back and relax at any hour. This ability to connect with the entire space in a positive way gives guests a sense of ownership and belonging, which will keep them coming back year after year.
Tip 4: Your Vacation Rental Should Smell Inviting
Never underestimate the importance of scent and odor in a space. More than any other sense, smell is closely linked with memory, and you can capitalize on that biological fact by making sure your vacation rental smells divine.
Obviously, clean spaces smell good; but you can go a step further by providing oil diffusers or plug-in room scenters to enhance a sense of relaxation and comfort. Keep scents subtle, as overwhelming scents—even pleasant ones—can have an adverse effect. You might, for instance, provide several scented oil plug-ins throughout the space and keep them dialed down to the lowest level. Go with more neutral scents, like vanilla, linen, citrus, or lavender. Avoid strong, polarizing scents like patchouli, sandalwood, or ylang ylang.
Your guests might find scented oil diffusers and a selection of essential oils to be a luxurious (though relatively inexpensive) addition to bedrooms. Provide clear instructions on how to use the diffusers, along with scented oil recipes designed for relaxation, energy, healing, or aphrodisiacs. As guests play with the recipes and inhale the lovely scents that are wafted into the air, they will begin to associate their vacation with those scents, and every time they catch a hint of that scent in the future, they’ll imagine themselves back at your rental, enjoying a peaceful, wonderful vacation. That might be enough to inspire them to renew their rental on the spot.
A note about scented candles and incense: you may not like the idea of guests lighting scented candles or incense sticks and then forgetting to blow them out before leaving, thus increasing the risk of fire. Scented oil plug-ins and oil diffusers are a safe alternative to lit candles or incense.
Tip 5: Provide a DVD Player with a Selection of DVDs
DVDs are old-school technology, right? Yet a DVD player and a library of DVDs to watch is still good entertainment. Your vacation rental’s Wifi connection should include an account with an online movie streaming site, like Netflix, but there are plenty of movies Netflix doesn’t carry. Plus, if the Wifi has an issue, your guests can still rely on old-fashioned DVDs for entertainment.
DVDs can be had for relatively cheap if you get them used in excellent condition or new at a discount, so you can build a good library of titles without having to shell out hundreds of dollars. Try to have at least one or two movies in a variety of genres: children and family, comedy, action/adventure, horror, and indie are some of the most popular. If you cater to families, avoid pornography or movies with a lot of blood and gore or foul language.
Some of the best ways to put together an inexpensive DVD collection are by visiting pawn shops and thrift stores (check the DVD for obvious scratches and wear, of course), or by shopping at online used DVD stores like FamilyVideo.com or SecondSpin.com. You can also buy used or discounted new DVDs from Amazon.com (search for “used DVDs” or “discount DVDs”), or eBay.com.
Blu-ray players and discs provide better picture definition than DVD, and you can pick up a perfectly decent Blu-ray player for under $100, though you will need to buy more expensive Blu-ray discs to stock the movie library. A Blu-ray player such as a Playstation 3 or Playstation 4 plays both movie discs and games—yet another attractive draw for vacationers.
Whether you provide a DVD player or Blu-ray, your guests will also have the option of renting movies from a nearby Redbox (depending on the rental’s location) so they can catch the latest offerings and expand their choices of titles.
Tip 6: Put Together a Welcome Package
A welcome package that awaits your guests as they walk into your door goes above and beyond, and it will leave a very positive impression on those who stay in your vacation rental. A welcome package can be elaborate or simple, depending on your tastes and budget. It might be a bouquet of fresh flowers and a hand-written note or a basket with goodies inside. Consider putting together some snacks, a sweet or two, coupons, a list of restaurant suggestions, and brochures that list local attractions. Include a food that is iconic to your area—a bottle of wine in Sonoma County, a bag of salt water taffy in Atlantic City, or something that locals are proud of in the location of the rental (Beef jerky? Cheese? Cookies?). Lastly, chocolates are a universally pleasing part of a welcome package.
Most guests won’t expect a welcome package, so letting them find one on a table near the door or in the kitchen will add one more dimension of satisfaction to their stay.
It’s the details that really matter in a vacation rental. Your guests will expect and appreciate high-end home goods, free Wifi, a comfortable and usable outdoor area, the fact that it smells lovely, and plenty of entertainment options in the form of movies and/or games. Extra details, such as a welcome package, will go even further to encourage your guests to vote with their dollars by making repeat bookings, leave positive reviews, and spread the word to their friends and family members. When you create a place that is lovely, easy to use, and includes all the little things that make a vacation so pleasant, you’ll see the reward of increasing profits.
A clean and sparkling rental is one of the most basic of necessities, and it is one area in which you should never become lackadaisical. Hiring a professional vacation rental cleaning company like Ana Valenzuela ensures that your rental will always be in tip-top shape.