Darina Murashev is a freelance writer from Chicago based in Salt Lake City. She writes about home maintenance, relocation, and big lifestyle changes. She enjoys travel, live music, and spending time in the great outdoors.
As the popularity of the rental booking app market continues to grow, more people than ever are turning their vacation properties into an additional source of income. This past year, Airbnb booked its 100 millionth guest, encroaching on the territory of hotel giants like Hilton. If you still haven’t started turning a profit from your vacation property – or you’re looking for ideas to impress guests – these tips can help you keep your home, apartment, or spare room booked well into the off-season.
1. Update Your Description and Photos
You only get one chance to make a first impression. Your description and photos should be the “hook” that brings in your guests. Updating your listing with an accurate, transparent, and well-written description and some high-definition photos can spike the popularity of your rental.
Getting Started: Browse popular booking sites and see which rental properties jump out to you. You can emulate other successful listings to make yours more enticing.
2. Change Your Rates
If you haven’t updated your rental price recently, you might be undercharging. Knowing how much to charge your guests is more science than art; you can use other local listings and your utility bills to pick the perfect rate. As a general rule, budget at least $200 a month for utilities for a small apartment and divide your utility costs by the number of nights your guests will be staying.
Getting Started: If you’re struggling to attract your first guests, consider lowering your rates until you’ve got a few glowing reviews under your belt.
3. Create a Guidebook
Guests want a professional, curated experience when they choose a home-sharing service over a hotel. You can increase the professionalism of your rental property with a more personalized booking platform. Apps like Hostfully provide your guests with a virtual guidebook that turns your rental into a memorable vacation experience.
Getting Started: Write about your property in a friendly manner and give a few local recommendations to make your rental booking feel more like a guided vacation.
4. Provide Toiletries (and More)
A few complimentary toiletries cost just a few dollars, but they can go a long way toward a guest’s experience in your vacation home. Leaving out basic supplies like toothpaste, shampoo, soap, towels, and a few snacks might inspire a glowing review or a repeat booking.
Getting Started: Consider leaving out universal phone chargers or backup batteries as a convenient and tech-savvy upgrade from the traditional hotel fare.
5. Upgrade Your Front Door
Smart home technologies can help simplify the booking experience for you and your guests. Consider installing a smart lock and doorbell to increase the security of your rental property and eliminate the key-sharing hassle. With a smart lock, you can grant your guests access using their smartphones.
Getting Started: A smart security camera near the door can alert you when your guests arrive while providing increased security for your clients.
6. Connect to Your Surroundings
Your vacation rental might be comfortable, but it’s only as good as the neighborhood. Make sure your listing highlights all the reasons you love the location as well. Create a map of local attractions, fine dining, natural spaces, and must-see tourist destinations so that your guests can envision their dream vacation when browsing your listing.
Getting Started: Leave a suggested itinerary for your guests that includes your favorite activities and restaurants to help them plan their perfect day.
7. Make Your Property More Efficient
A less-than-courteous guest can cut into your income by leaving a window open while blasting the air conditioning. A smart thermostat can help you monitor your home’s temperature remotely, insuring you against wasted heating and cooling. Your guests will likely enjoy the high-tech, automated climate control, and you can rest easy knowing your home’s climate is as efficient as possible.
Getting Started: Add door, window, motion, and water-leak sensors to alert you to any wasted utilities.
8. Connect with Your Guests
Going the extra mile can help your guests feel at home in your vacation rental. Take some extra time to connect with them, and make yourself available to answer questions or attend to their requests. A simple phone call at the start of a booking shows your guests that they’re welcome in your home and that their experience matters to you.
Getting Started: Sharing a few recommendations and explaining the best way for your guests to contact you can help them relax. Plus, showing them you’re a welcoming host can encourage them to make renting your vacation property an annual tradition.
9. Build an Outdoor Space
Your guests might beeline for the beach on their first day, but they’ll inevitably spend time in your vacation home. Creating a comfortable and attractive outdoor area can help your guests make the most of their downtime – if you have some space available at your rental. Strategically done, outdoor spaces can be inexpensive to furnish and improve, and a little landscaping can make a big difference when your guests first see your property.
Getting Started: Consider adding an outdoor patio set for meals. Your guests will appreciate the change in scenery, and an outdoor feature can help your listing stand out from other properties.
10. Make a Marketing Plan
All the home improvement in the world can’t help your guests find your listing. Creating a marketing plan for your rental property can ensure you’re reaching your apartment’s maximum potential audience. Start by posting your listing on social media channels, and ask your guests to share your listing with their friends.
Getting Started: List the common interests of people who tend to like your style of property and the surrounding area, then plan individual steps for how your marketing can reach each interest. For example, if your area offers hiking and backpacking opportunities, try promoting your property online in hiking and adventuring groups.
Renting out your vacation home can help pay off your mortgage, your utility bills, and even the costs of a home renovation. Taking some extra steps to connect with your guests and provide them with helpful features can turn your property investment into a constant source of passive income.