If you’re running a vacation rental, chances are you’re looking for ways to boost revenue by increasing the occupancy rate and getting the best average daily rate (ADR). There’s definitely low hanging fruit that can help you increase vacation rental earnings, but is there anything more that can be done?
This is where additional amenities and upsells come in. What can vacation property operators do to increase guest satisfaction and experience by giving them more of what they want, while also providing additional revenue streams?
To get the answer to this question, Hostfully partnered up with AllTheRooms, a vacation rental Airbnb data provider. They have access to unique information about many aspects of the vacation rental industry. That includes market dynamics, guest demographics, and even amenities guests are willing to pay more for.
Combined with Hostfully Guidebook data, we came up with a few insights you can use to boost revenue based on what guests are willing to pay for.
Our data methodology
To understand which amenities guests are willing to pay more for, AllTheRooms analyzed data from four distinct vacation rental areas. These areas represent typical vacation themes which are:
- Beach vacations
- Alpine villages
- Rural getaways
- Urban stays
Note that for urban visits, the focus was on smaller but popular spots. Cities like London, Paris, and New York don’t always represent vacation rental industry trends because they rent out so quickly and reliably, and pricing can be inconsistent to draw conclusions.
Any listings that had ten or fewer reviews over the last year (July 2018 to July 2019) were also screened out. AllTheRooms used data from the following international hot spots:
- Beach vacation – 7 of Sydney’s most famous beach districts – Bondi, Coogee, Manly, Palm Beach, Avalon Beach, Cronulla Beach, and Watson’s Bay.
- Alpine villages – 13 of Europe’s most popular alpine ski resorts across France, Switzerland, Austria, and Italy – Courchevel, Zermatt, Val D’Isere, Tignes, Cortina D’Ampezzo, Chamonix, St Anton, Meribel, St Moritz, Courmayeur, Val Thorens, Verbier, Cervinia, and Alpe D’Huez.
- Rural getaways – The beautiful region of Provence, France.
- Urban stays – 8 of Germany’s most iconic, lesser-known cities: Frankfurt, Hamburg, Cologne, Dresden, Leipzig, Heidelberg, Dusseldorf, and Stuttgart.
So what does the data say?
A scoring system was used to present the data in an easy-to-read chart. If an amenity was deemed necessary by a particular algorithm for a specific area, it received one point.
So what does the data say? Unsurprisingly, amenities vacation rental guests are willing to pay for vary according to the type of vacation. Below is a chart outlining these findings:
Breaking it down further
Overall, the easiest conclusion to draw from the chart is that different types of vacations come with different guest expectations. In a rural getaway or beach vacation, guests want the comfort of a house. That means they’re willing to pay more for a “whole house” experience.
If we dig deeper into the data, we can draw even better insights that’ll help you increase your ADR. Remember that these insights are vacation-specific. So what’s great for an urban stay may not apply to a rural getaway. The goal here is to increase guest satisfaction by tailoring to the niche the properties attract.
Beach vacations (Sydney area)
Of the destinations analyzed, beach vacations have the most amenities that guests are usually willing to pay extra to have in their vacation rental.
- Indoor fireplace: While the word “beach” usually makes us think of warmth and sun, it seems a fireplace is an Airbnb amenity guests are willing to pay more to have. And it makes sense: once the sun goes down, a fire keeps the good vibes from a day on the beach going. Not to mention that from a listing perspective, they make a property look sleek.
- Barbeque or grill: One of the most popular things to do when you spend the day outside is to barbeque. So it’s no wonder guests are often willing to pay more for a property that has a private BBQ or grill. Note that a good barbeque can offset the downsides of a property with a small kitchen.
- Dryer: A dryer is a sought-after amenity during a beach vacation. Probably, because it enables renters to do all their beach laundry quickly. After all, no one likes to put back on a wet bathing suit the next day. Not to mention drying towels and general laundry requirements.
- Dishwasher: A dishwasher is equally popular and something that can help an owner upsell the property. It’s a great way to boost the guest experience. After all, no one likes to clean dishes by hand.
- Family-friendly: A family-friendly property attracts prospective guests — and is a feature that many travelers spend more on. Remember, however, that to label your property as family-friendly, it has to be safe for kids, more than one bed, and located in a safe neighborhood.
- Free parking: Many beach vacation-goers rent cars. Possibly for day-trips, visiting another beach, or just running errands. It’s probably why free parking shows up as amenity guests will pay more for.
Other popular amenities that we see drive higher ADRs in beach vacation properties include en-suite bathrooms and offering children’s books. Note that those two features go hand-in-hand with family-friendly.
Guests that travel to alpine destinations have specific day-time activities planned. These are typically skiing (winter months) and hiking (summer months). As we’ll see, these activities impact what amenities they’re willing to pay more for:
- Indoor fireplaces: Indoor fireplaces are one of the most sought-after features in Alpine vacation rentals. Having an indoor fireplace makes a property appear much cozier — and also offers the practicality of much-needed heat in a colder, mountainous setting.
- Dryer: Equally, a dryer is one of the most desired amenities in Alpine rentals. With cold weather in the winter months, it could take a while for clothes to dry without one.
- Hot tub: Having a hot tub in an Alpine rental is a fantastic way to increase the popularity of a property as it adds a sense of luxury to a home. It also boosts the guest experience: hot tubs are a great way to melt away the soreness of a full day of downhill skiing or hiking.
- Ski-in-ski-out: Predictably, the option to ski-in and ski-out is also one of the most desired amenities a vacation rental can offer in Alpine villages — and it’s something the majority of guests are willing to pay more on.
- Travel crib: We found that a travel crib shows up as one of the most-wanted amenities in Alpine rentals. Alpine vacations are trendy with families in general, so a travel crib can make a big difference to vacation rental occupancy and rate.
While the amenities above have shown up as the most desired amenities during our analysis, other popular amenities that can drive up ADR are wifi, a dishwasher, extra pillows and blankets, and a coffee maker.
So far, we’ve looked at amenities guests want in beach and alpine locations. But what about cities? At first thought, we could assume that guests that book urban vacation rental properties have different requirements. The amenities they’re willing to pay more for would agree with that assumption:
- Dishwasher: Once again, one of the amenities Airbnb guests are ready to pay more for is a dishwasher. Urban travelers typically try and immerse themselves in the city rather than spend time on household chores.
- Patio or balcony: A patio or balcony is equally desirable for urban vacation rentals. Why? Guests want to be able to enjoy a relaxing moment before exploring busy cities.
- TV: Interestingly, a television is an amenity Airbnb guests are willing to pay more for when visiting cities. What’s important to keep in mind with urban guests is that they’re not always vacationers. Cities attract business travelers too. And that can mean kicking back and watching a bit of Netflix after a long day.
Other popular amenities guests are willing to pay for in cities include an iron, a clothes washer, and free street parking. Don’t forget that free wifi didn’t make the list, but that’s because urban guests have come to expect this amenity as a standard offering.
Fresh air, ecotourism, farmer’s markets, and wineries. You’d think the list of desirable amenities would be much different than, say, in an alpine retreat or beach vacation. Wait until you see the results:
- Indoor fireplace: As with alpine villages, an indoor fireplace is one of the most-wanted amenities in vacation rentals in the French countryside.
- Pool: This is one of the most desired amenities in rural vacation rentals. In general, rural getaways attract families, which makes pools a great activity guests can enjoy from within the property.
- Dishwasher: By now, you’ve come to expect to see dishwasher on any list of amenities guests are willing to pay more for. The conclusion is obvious: guests don’t want to clean dishes on vacation and are willing to pay for it.
- Internet: A property with the internet justifies a higher price tag in rural vacation rentals. It’s common for guests to bring laptops with them to check on work emails or to Instagram the scenic French countryside.
Meanwhile, other popular amenities include a travel crib, a dryer, a coffee maker, a refrigerator, and a high chair.
Another revenue-boosting technique: upselling services to guests
While customizing amenities for the type of guest your vacation rental is likely to attract is a great way to boost revenue, there’s another revenue stream you can implement: offering services when guests are in the property. It’s a trend that vacation rental managers have borrowed from the hotel industry.
Remember those cards with checkboxes you could hang from your hotel room door? In a vacation rental, the host can’t be there to collect that card. The solution? Technology. Our platform allows hosts to sell additional services directly from within a digital guidebook offered to guests. All a host has to do is offer the service, and guests buy it directly from the guidebook. The host gets an alert, and the service then gets delivered.
What does the data say?
A few months after we rolled out this feature, we noticed interesting trends in what hosts were offering guests. Our data was collected over hundreds of properties across the US and Europe, and here are the results:
Unsurprisingly, Guest Experience Boosters (more on that below) and Cleaning Services are the most popular services offered. They’re reasonably easy to implement and upsell and take advantage of the fact that the typical vacation rental guest values convenience.
Digging a bit deeper
If we break down the data a bit more, we get additional insights into what hosts are successfully upselling to guests.
For starters, the majority of hosts that offer cleaning services only offer a mid-stay full-house cleaning. Only a small percent give guests the option of a linen change. Similarly, in transportation, most upsell focuses on an airport pick-up and drop-off. Within this category, we noticed slight variations in the level of luxury offered.
- Few hosts offered professional car hires.
- Most hosts pick up the guests themselves.
Only a handful of hosts offer the option of a rental car delivery. The reason may be because car rental locations are in, or next to, most transportation hubs (airports, bus, train stations). That said, if you’re in an area where that’s not the case, offering a car rental drop-off is a great upsell as you’re increasing convenience for the guest.
Guest experience boosters: The rise in experiential travel
The most variety in upsells we’ve seen is in what we call Guest Experience Boosters, likely in an effort to capitalize on the growing trend of experiential travel. These are all upsells that guests can purchase to enhance their experience when in your rental, or make the stay more enjoyable. Here’s the breakdown:
Early check-in or late check-outs are an obvious easy upsell. Just offer it, and if your guests need it, it’s extra income—just like that! It’s a quick win every host can capitalize on without you having to coordinate services, buy equipment or provide an actual additional service—unless you have back-to-back reservations.
Hosts that operate high turnover properties can make substantial amounts from this since they get more opportunities to collect on early check-in or late check-out fees. Interestingly, at-home services were also popular upsells. If you’re wondering what those can be, here are the most popular services offered:
- At-home chef
- Massage therapist
- Facial and spa experiences
From a host’s perspective, these offerings are great because they don’t involve any upfront expenses. All a host has to do is contact the service provider and figure out a price and service. From there, the host can post the service on the upsell platform and charge an additional fee on top of the final price. Again, that’s an easy win and a great revenue booster.
Other types of upsold services can get a bit more complicated for hosts, which is likely why they aren’t more prevalent. Luggage holds, grocery deliveries, and accessory and bed rentals all require host involvement.
There are so many new monetization opportunities when it comes to operating a vacation rental business thanks to technology. That said, the data from AllTheRooms shows us that managers and operators must recognize the differences in guest expectations when it comes to different types of properties.
Likewise, our own data shows us that boosting revenue in a vacation rental is certainly possible and many entrepreneurial operators are currently doing this. That said, it has to be done in a planned and strategic way. It’s much more than just increasing the nightly price.
Ultimately you have to cater to the type of guest your property attracts. Try adding desirable amenities and upselling services—you’ll see the difference in your guests’ satisfaction, your differentiation and branding, and ultimately your revenue.