Are you intrigued by the Private Accommodations market (aka Vacation Rentals or Short-term Rentals) and just can’t get past the idea of staying in someone else’s house…or bed for that matter? Ever thought owning a vacation rental property sounded great and just weren’t sure if it would pay for itself, or where to start? If either of these scenarios describe you, hopefully you’ll find this post helpful. Getting the relationship between guest and owner right makes the vacation rental market so much more enjoyable for everyone!
Before we jump into the deep-end, let’s set some expectations. Owners often times purchase a property for their own use and consider the guest preferences after the fact (or as a secondary consideration at best). Guests aren’t making a long-term commitment when they book a stay. This is typically a 2-7 day trip where experienced guests are willing to spend a little more to get the location and amenities that best suit them. Owners should take guests needs into more consideration when making a property investment. Guests should look for properties where owners take more of the guests needs into consideration. Guests will find their stay to be much more enjoyable and owners will find guests take much better care of the property.
Priority 1: Quality and Cleanliness
It’s hard to believe, but it wasn’t too long ago that this wasn’t a very high priority. Unfortunately, there are still a few owners that still haven’t figured this out.
Guests: this is an opportunity to spend quality time with your friends and family. Your vacation time is precious so take the time to look for a nice property and be sure to look through reviews for signs of cleaning issues. Don’t be afraid of the occasion 4-star rating and comment about a missed cleaning. Accidents happen…what’s important is to understand how the owner responded to the issue. You can also look to see if the owner has other properties and if there’s a history of well maintained inventory. Also, avoid owners that require you to clean before you leave. Taking care of the dishes/trash is reasonable – cleaning the house is not!
Owners: Cleanliness is a core-function of your job…you need to take the time to protect your guests and your property with bed bug covers and professional cleaning. These are never areas where cutting corners will save you money! Beyond cleaning, too many owners are concerned guests will abuse new furniture, steal their towels and don’t care about mismatched plates and glasses. The reality is guests will take better care of your property when they know you’ve taken the time to care about their visit. High quality sheets, towels, kitchenware and appliances will be cared for much better than your grandmothers used furniture.
Priority 2: Location
For most travelers, location is at the top of the list. Some guests will sacrifice location due to budget constraints, but that’s not the majority of the market. Properties with locations near water (beach, lake, river or pond) will always have the most demand.
Guest: while location is likely to be the highest priority in your search, consider some other options that may expand your choices. For example: maybe being a half mile from the shopping district will be acceptable if the owner provides a golf-cart.
Owner: not every investor can afford that front-row beach property, but depending on your strategy (cash-flow investment or second home for personal use) you may want to consider some other options. Example: you may find a condo with a great view or easy access to the beach is more affordable and profitable than that beach house.
Priority 3: Amenities
Getting away on vacation and spending time on the beach is a great idea. But the reality is the highest searched amenity at the beach is a pool.
Guest: consider the entire family and look for a pool / hot tub, even if it’s shared by the community. BBQ grills, free parking and nearby restaurants allow you to enjoy a greater portion of your vacation time. It’s great to spend time at the beach or on the ski slopes, but consider what else your family would enjoy – don’t let the kids get bored!
Owner: a great property in a perfect location goes a long way, but sometimes lower priced properties are more popular because of a pool / hot tub. If you can’t afford to accommodate a private pool, look for a community pool or consider a condo with these amenities.
Coming Soon: Services
As demand increases and investors enter the marketplace, quality will become less of a differentiator as lower quality properties will be pushed out. This is great for the guest and overall vacation rental marketplace, but smart owners will need to improve their game and find another differentiator. Providing services stands out as a real opportunity where guests receive additional value and owners can drive more bookings. Guests should look for these progressive owners, knowing quality and amenities are likely already accounted for. Some things to anticipate: food delivery, reservations, airport pickup/drop-off, etc.