8 Types of Vacation Rental Guests and How to Win Them Over

May 15 2023
Father playing with his toddler daughter on vacation, laughing as she tries to remove his sunglasses from his face

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What’s in this article?

Even the most incredible-sounding vacation rentals can benefit from tailored marketing.

The cute cottage with the great views could be the perfect base for a digital nomad to work from; while the property in an exciting downtown area and close to an expo center could win more business by targeting large business groups.

If you want to create a loyal customer base that returns to your property and recommends you to others, you need to know exactly what they’re looking for. And this means building out an idea of the preferences and habits of different types of guests.

That’s why this article looks at the eight most common types of vacation rental guests and the kinds of business opportunities they represent.

We also consider what they look for in property listings, which services they appreciate, and what marketing they’re most responsive to. You’ll also get tips about how to streamline your operations using your insights on guest profiles.

Easily customize your communications.

Why is it important to identify different types of guests for your vacation rental?

By identifying an ideal guest profile or a few ideal types of guests for your vacation rental, you could improve guest experience, get more bookings, and streamline your operations.

Here we explore how.

Targeted marketing opportunities

In an increasingly competitive market, even targeting your listing descriptions toward a specific audience can help your property to stand out.

Got a local coworking space and a desk with a nice view, for example? Include that in your description, verify your WiFi speed, and you’ll catch the eyes of more digital nomads.

Then, with an understanding of that type of guest’s needs and interests, you might create a blog for your direct booking site about the “10 best cafes for remote work in X location“ and hone your SEO strategy.

Streamlined processes for improved guest experience

Meanwhile, understanding different demographics allows you to adapt your internal processes so you’re more efficient at responding to guest expectations. 

For example, if you’ve identified your incoming guest as a digital nomad, your team knows to gift freshly ground, locally sourced coffee as part of the welcome basket. Alternatively, if you’ve got a young family visiting, it’s built into your processes to reach out and offer them your local partner’s babysitting service.

The 8 different types of vacation rental guests

You can scale your vacation rental business by tapping into these kinds of vacation rental guest. We look at who they are and the business opportunities for each one.

1. Couples

Whether you’re running a beachfront villa or a cozy cottage, your short-term rental could be a prime location for romantic getaways, honeymoons, and anniversaries.

And, unlike small families, this type of guest often looks for luxury experiences so there are lots of potential upsell opportunities to take advantage of.

2. Business travelers

When business travelers find a great spot close to their central office or event space, they have every reason to return if you deliver on their expectations.

So by attracting this audience, you’re more likely to get repeat bookings. And what’s more, they’re likely to recommend you to their colleagues too.

3. Digital nomads

Digital nomads are another rapidly expanding market.

And because they look to stay at properties for weeks or months while working, drawing them in means you’ll secure long-term bookings—great for occupancy, but also operationally much easier to manage.

4. Solo travelers and eco-friendly explorers

Research from Skyscanner shows that 29% of people are considering taking a solo trip in 2023 while a study from Booking.com shows that over 81% of people would prefer to stay in sustainable accommodation. Targeting these groups (which often cross over) could differentiate your guest experience from local competition.

5. Last-minute bookers 

Last-minute bookings are a great way to fill gaps in your booking calendar, but some short-term rentals struggle to take them on.

Having the infrastructure in place to cater to this type of guest will give you a competitive advantage.

6. Travelers with disabilities

The vacation rental industry is waking up to the importance of supporting travelers with disabilities.

Catering to this group can strengthen your brand and encourage repeat business.

7. Young families

As fans of easy travel, families with young children often return to their favorite short-term rental spots year after year.

By understanding exactly what they’re looking for, you can build a loyal customer base.

8. Large groups 

Targeting groups of people that are traveling for events such as school or family reunions, sports competitions, and bachelor parties can be very lucrative.

And by ensuring that they have a great stay, you can get dozens of good referrals from a single stay.

How to attract each type of vacation rental guest

To target specific types of vacation rental guests, you need to provide the right amenities, optimize your operations so you can offer relevant services, and market the experience of staying with you in the right way.

In this section, we look at how you can do this cost-effectively. We also look at some of the guest experience tools that can help.

Couples

Couples are often looking for an intimate space where they can enjoy time together so it’s the small things that count when you’re trying to attract them. Here we explore some of the special touches you can add to create a special atmosphere.

Amenities

To create a romantic ambiance that couples will remember, you don’t need a hot tub or bottles of champagne. Include some of these items in your welcome basket to set the tone:

  • Local wine

  • Chocolate truffles

  • Fresh flowers

  • Bath salts

  • Scented candles

Services

Any service which allows couples to spend time together is sure to be a hit. Consider promoting the following in your digital guidebooks:

  • Dinner with an in-house chef

  • A partnership with a local spa

  • Discounts at a local restaurant

Marketing

When marketing to couples, you should focus on painting a picture of a luxurious, intimate atmosphere.

You can do this by carefully selecting the imagery you use and creating concise but compelling descriptions. But this can be time-consuming.

So, to get started, why not use ChatGPT as a base? With the right prompts, you can get a tried and tested structure to play with. We explore an example of how this looks below, but you can also learn more about using ChatGPT for your vacation rental business here.

Screenshot of a ChatGPT-generated rental listing description

With just a few details, ChatGPT can create a compelling description that draws in your target guests.

Business travelers

Business travelers need ease and efficiency at every turn. For this reason, you should focus on implementing the following amenities, services, and marketing strategies.

Amenities

Business travelers once stayed only at hotels because of the reliable WiFi and convenient amenities. So to entice them to your short-term rental you should include:

  • WiFi boosters to ensure every room has a signal

  • An ethernet cable to provide a more stable connection

  • An espresso machine in the kitchen

  • A smart TV with streaming services provided

Services

Busy travelers appreciate easy access to all the information they need throughout their stay. For this reason, you should look to implement digital guidebooks with information about directions, parking, access, WiFi, amenities, and local services.

With Hostfully, you can create branded guidebooks in a range of languages that are optimized for mobile. You can also embed Google maps, videos, and images so your business travelers have a consistently branded experience throughout their stay.

Screenshot of a digital guidebook made with Hostfully
Digital guidebooks allow busy travelers to see what they need at a glance.

Marketing

Digital guidebooks also make it easy for you to create upsells for business travelers. And with Hostfully’s Viator integration, you’ll get an 8% commission on every sale. Here are some ideas for services you could promote:

  • Early check-in

  • Shuttle service to a local event space

  • Express dry-clean collection and delivery

Digital nomads

Digital nomads have many of the same needs as business travelers, in that they are looking to use your short-term rental for work. Where the two differ is that digital nomads or “bleisure” (business leisure) travelers are looking to stay for longer periods of time and to use your property as their work base.

And this means they’re looking for extra levels of comfort and convenience. 

Amenities

To make your STR feel like a home away from home, you should include:

  • Plenty of space for them to store their belongings

  • A well-equipped kitchen with a large refrigerator

  • A dedicated workspace with an HD display, ergonomic chair, notepads, and pens

  • A pet bed

Services

Digital nomads will appreciate many of the same services as business travelers. You could also partner with a local coworking space to give them a greater sense of community.

Marketing

To entice digital nomads to book with you, offer a reduced rate for stays of over a month. You can set up this discount in OTAs like Airbnb or Vrbo or directly on your site. We explore how you can use dynamic pricing tools to further optimize your nightly rates in the last-minute booking section.

Solo travelers and eco-friendly explorers

Much like digital nomads, solo travelers are often looking to set up a base and explore one location for a long time. They’re also a demographic that’s particularly interested in green travel. So in this section, we explore how you can cater to this.

Amenities

To make your short-term rental more eco-friendly, you could:

  • Install solar energy panels

  • Invest in reusable packaging—e.g. glass soap bottles

  • Use local produce in your welcome basket

  • Introduce vegan-friendly furniture, foodstuffs, and toiletries

Services

You can help solo travelers to experience the culture of your local area in an authentic and environmentally-friendly way by: 

  • Working with local venues to create events for solo travelers such as food and drink-tasting nights and yoga classes

  • Partnering with volunteer programs

  • Offering bikes for rent

Marketing

Look into attaining the following certifications to show your guests your eco-friendly credentials: 

Last-minute bookers

Last-minute bookers need flexibility at every stage.

Here we explore how you can facilitate this using STR software and how you can attract these types of guests with clever marketing tactics and the right processes.

Operations

Turning over your short-term rental in time for a last-minute booking can be tight. But with a task management solution like Hostfully’s, you can easily assemble your team when new bookings come in.

Inside our property management platform, your cleaners will receive a notification to begin their cleaning when a last-minute guest books. Our integrations with scheduling software make the process even easier, allowing you to automatically assign tasks based on your cleaner’s availability and to monitor progress.

Services

To provide flexibility to last-minute bookers, look to implement:

  • 24/7 messaging.

    With Hostfully’s automated solution, you can set up replies to common queries and step away from your phone.

  • Self check-in.

    Use smart locks to let your guests check in easily without needing to meet you for the keys or navigate a clunky lockbox in the middle of the night.

  • Mobile-optimized digital guidebooks.

    Having perhaps not had a lot of time to get acquainted with the local area, last-minute travelers will appreciate recommendations while they’re out and about.

Marketing

With dynamic pricing tools, you can ensure you offer great value for money while boosting your revenue on last-minute bookings. This technology will look at factors such as competitor prices, seasonality, and demand to automatically update your rates.

You can also integrate this with your property management system with a channel manager such as Hostfully to update all your listings at once. Every time your nightly rate changes, this will be reflected across OTAs and your direct booking site.

Travelers with disabilities

To give all travelers the chance to enjoy your short-term rental property, read this section for tips on improving accessibility. 

Amenities

You can make your property more friendly to people with disabilities without a huge investment. Look to include:

  • A ramp at the doorway

  • Grab bars, non-slip surfaces, and adjustable showerheads in the bathroom

  • Lower countertops and low pull-out shelves in the kitchen

Services

You could also offer the following services:

  • Personal assistance.

    Help guests with their luggage on arrival, for example.

  • Links to accessible local activities.

    Many cities have guided tours catered toward people with disabilities.

  • Help with transportation

    . Create a list of local, accessible taxis, and offer a shuttle service.

Marketing

Make sure all of your accessibility information is available in your listings and digital guidebooks and be sure to include a property plan with measurements. You can also make your guidebooks more friendly to people with disabilities by printing them in large font via Hostfully’s integration with Blurb.

Young families

To keep children entertained and parents relaxed, there are several key things to incorporate into your short-term rental. Here we explore those.

Amenities

To encourage young families to your property, incorporate the following safety features:

  • Childproof draw locks

  • Window guards

  • Baby gates

  • Furniture anchors

  • Electrical outlet covers

Services

Partner with local babysitters to give parents some time to relax away from their kids. You can use sites such as Destination Sitters and Care.com to find relevant services in your area.

Marketing

To optimize your listings to attract young families, focus on highlighting suitable local activities, painting a picture of their time at the property, and emphasizing its safety features. You can see a great example of this in the Airbnb listing below.

Screenshot of an Airbnb listing
A friendly, approachable tone is great for family-oriented listings.
Source

Large groups

Large groups often want to spend a lot of time together in a vacation rental property. Here we look at how you can encourage them to do so and ensure they have a great stay.

Amenities

To allow large groups to get full value out of your space you should include:

  • Flexible sleeping arrangements.

    Think bunk beds, pull-out sofas, and air mattresses.

  • Entertainment options.

    Gaming consoles, board games, and outdoor sports equipment are all good ideas.

  • A fully equipped kitchen.

    Include plenty of plates and cutlery and a dishwasher.

Services

Consider partnering with a catering service to make life easier for larger groups staying at your property. You just need to remember to find out the dietary requirements of your party when they book. It helps if you have information about several bookings in one place, such as in Hostfully’s centralized messaging inbox.

Screenshot of Hostfully’s centralized messaging solution
With Hostfully, you can view all guest communications and information in one place.

Marketing

When trying to sell your properties to large groups, emphasize how spacious they are in the description and take pictures with good lighting and no clutter.

You can also offer a discount for large parties. 

Scaling by targeting vacation rental guest types 

By targeting specific types of vacation rental guests, you can boost occupancy, earn better reviews, and increase repeat business. 

Doing so requires a developed understanding of guest profiles, and, by building these out with the insights included in our article, you’ll save time down the line.

No longer will you have to waste hours brainstorming services that potential guests aren’t interested in, or experimenting with marketing strategies that don’t work.

Instead, you can streamline your operations, provide amenities your guests love, and develop a rapport with your guests through automated messaging and personalized content. And, as you scale, a platform for automation like Hostfully will help you achieve your business goals.

Easily customize your communications.