A brown-haired younger woman is packing boxes and pre-owned furniture to ship to her vacation rental property.

Vacation Rental Improvements

How To Prepare a Vacation Rental Property

With travel roaring back to life in the United States and internationally, the global vacation rental market is booming at a value of more than $70 billion and growing every year. Now could be your time to enter the short-term rental business if you haven't already, and you can do so whether or not you own a second property.

Sharing economy apps like "Airbnb" and "Vrbo" make it easy to reach an audience and book guests on your schedule, whether hosting in a rental property or your home. Technology can simplify logistics, but ensuring the best experience for yourself and your guests can be more complicated. It would be best if you planned to set boundaries with your guests and provide them with an excellent experience.

Establishing Your Rental Space

Owning a second property near a popular destination is the ideal setup for a vacation rental. However, if your home is in a desirable area, you can enjoy some extra income by renting part or all of your living space on a short-term basis.

Besides an entire second home, here are some ideas for spaces that you can rent out:

  • Apartment or condo that you own;
  • "Casita" or in-law suite on your property;
  • Private or semi-private living space in your own house;
  • Cabin or camper on property that you own;
  • Your own home; if you make a small move seasonally between locations.

No matter what space you wish to rent out, it's essential to learn the applicable laws in your area, as each municipality is different regarding short-term rentals. Make sure you can legally do so first, and then you can finalize your plans for accommodating guests.

Furnish the Rooms

When going on vacation to relax and stretch out, no one wants to encounter a bare-bones arrangement in their rental. Therefore, it's essential to furnish the rooms for comfort and convenience. Here are some tips to consider.

  • Provide sofas and chairs with extra pillows, as well as blankets, to encourage a restful stay.
  • Ensure technology like the television and Wi-Fi are up-to-date, working correctly, and easy to use.
  • Ensure closets and drawers have ample space for guests to organize their belongings. Besides making them more comfortable, this will help keep your rooms tidy.
  • If your vacation property is remote or in a small town, you'll likely have difficulty finding all the right furnishings nearby. If you need more furniture, plan ahead and order furniture for delivery before your guest arrives.

Many rental owners take the opportunity to upgrade their home's furniture instead of buying new furniture for their rental. You can save money and upgrade your home by shipping used furniture to the rental property and replacing your furnishings with something new.

Give It Some Style

The furnishings in your rental are vital for making it comfortable, but it's the style that will truly make it memorable. Your goal should be to strike a balance between flair and broad appeal so that a wide range of guests can feel at home but still leave a unique impression. Here are some tips.

  • Keep it simple: To ensure appeal for a wide range of guests, try to use relatively neutral colors, uncluttered arrangements, and clean lines in your design of the rooms. Strive for elegance in simplicity.
  • Add a little flair: Even with a simple aesthetic overall, you should add a little flair to make the design memorable. Try to incorporate decorations that reflect the local culture or the landscape.
  • Conceal certain areas: You will likely need to reserve some space for your personal belongings or cleaning supplies. Make sure these areas are designated but not obtrusive, concealed in a way that makes off-limits zones easy for your guests to forget.

It's fun shopping for artwork to fill a vacation rental, whether in the local area or on vacation. As with your home's furniture, you could also send artwork from your home to decorate the rental space. Whether you ship artwork from a vacation boutique or your own home, be sure to ship your artwork safely to avoid costly damage in transport.

Keep It Clean

In addition to establishing what space you will rent, another logistical hurdle is deciding how to clean the property. A complete cleaning between every set of guests is crucial for their experience. It also helps you avoid health issues or legal problems with your rental service.

You must decide whether you will clean the place yourself or hire outside help, considering the pros and cons of each option according to your circumstances. Either way, you should keep sufficient cleaning and maintenance supplies securely on-site to aid in quick work between guests.

Don't Neglect the Kitchen

For many guests, a significant advantage of a rental instead of a hotel is the ability to cook meals and gather around a cozy kitchen table. That's why simply having a kitchen may not be enough make sure it's well-stocked to create that comfy feeling your guests desire.

What's more, providing all the proper supplies for cooking and cleaning will help keep your property neater, as guests will not feel the need to improvise on their own. Here are some essentials along with nice-to-haves for a vacation kitchen:

  • Essential cookware: This includes pots, pans, and a cutting board.
  • Dishes and utensils: You should have enough for your maximum number of guests to all eat together.
  • Large appliances: Refrigerator, oven, and range.
  • Small appliances: Microwave and coffee maker are essentials others, like a toaster, are optional.
  • Dishwasher: Not essential for guests, but having one can significantly expedite cleaning between stays.
  • Sufficient cleaning supplies: Items like dish soap and sponges, dish towels, paper towels, and garbage bags.
  • Optional: Food storage containers, extra utensils, dishes, and basic pantry items like spices and cooking oil.

Much like furniture, you may choose to pack up items from your home kitchen to equip the rental and then replace those with newer versions at home. Alternatively, you could buy kitchen goods for the rental and ship or deliver these yourself.

Keep Your Guests Informed

As a rental owner, you want to ensure proper communication with your guests while respecting their independence and privacy. You can do this in several ways and easily offer extra information to help them have the best vacation possible. Here are some ways to do that:

  • Take time to input all the necessary information into your listing so guests can access it before and after checking in.
  • Provide a physical welcome packet in the property reiterating all this information, but make the most critical points clear and upfront.
  • When contacting guests directly, message them through the booking app or email rather than obtaining their personal phone number to respect their privacy.
  • Offer additional materials such as brochures, books, or links to websites where guests can get ideas for activities in the area.

In addition to laying out all of this information, you should add a personal touch to your communication with guests. For example, you could suggest your favorite restaurants or activities in your rental listing or through direct messages to guests.

Stay Organized

Keep detailed checklists for your rental inventory, cleaning, and maintenance to make your life easier as an owner and manager. Establish a repeatable process for every check-in and check-out so that nothing gets missed and your guests receive a smooth experience each time.

Some owners hire a property management company to keep up with the routine chores. While that's certainly a route you can take, the proper organization might make it possible to handle tasks yourself and save the extra expense.

Think of the Little Things

After sufficiently furnishing your rental and establishing your process for accepting guests, you can turn your attention to the little things that make a big difference in the guest experience. Make them smile with small gestures like:

  • Leaving a personalized welcome note for them to find at check-in;
  • Providing a few snacks, fresh fruit, or beverages in the kitchen;
  • Offering travel-sized toiletries to substitute for overlooked items;
  • Supplying some board games, puzzles, or books for entertainment;

Provide clear contact information and any instructions for calling for extra help if needed.

These easy but meaningful favors will leave a great impression on your guests, making their stay all the more enjoyable and making them more likely to come back. They will also likely leave a glowing review, spreading the word to future guests and helping you grow your rental business.

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