What websites should I use for my Vacation Rental?

There are several websites you should consider using depending on where your home is and who you are trying to attract.

HOMEAWAY AND VRBO IS FOR TRADITIONAL RESORT EXPERIENCES

If your home is in a ”destination location” like by the beach, in the mountains, or in a desert location, you should consider using Homeaway and VRBO. Travelers searching for vacation rentals in a resort destination often go straight to HomeAway and VRBO. Travelers who are searching for the traditional resort experience are often traveling in a group of family members, friends, or even business partners and usually for several days, or even weeks. So be sure to consider their home needs as they will vary from group to group.

AIRBNB IS IDEAL FOR URBAN DESTINATIONS AND WEEKEND BOOKINGS

Airbnb is the go-to site for millennial’s and young travelers looking for properties in urban destinations. If you have a vacation rental in a city or trendy location, you should strongly consider using Airbnb. Airbnb travelers tend to be more interested in weekend bookings & shorter stays, so be prepared to have a higher turn over rate each month.

TRIPADVISOR AND BOOKING.COM ARE BEST FOR THE WIDEST RANGE OF TRAVELERS AND LAST MINUTE BOOKINGS

Booking.com and TripAdvisor are large international platforms that cover more diverse options for travel accommodations beyond vacation rentals, including hotel options, B&Bs, and more (so you will have a strong competition!). These travelers are often traveling internationally, and the group size can vary, but are usually small groups of 2-5. Think of this group of travelers as more nomadic than Airbnb, VRBO, or HomeAway, so their needs will be a little different and more basic in nature. If a traveler is specifically looking for a vacation rental, these platforms may not be the first place they look, so you may want to use other websites in addition to this option if you are looking for a full booking schedule. Also, be aware that this site has the highest cancellation rates in comparison to other websites, so be prepared.

COLLEGEWEEKENDS.COM IS NEW, BUT OBVIOUSLY FOR THE YOUNG TRAVELER

The travelers who are searching CollegeWeekends.com are usually going to be college students, and often value price and location over comfort. You can think of this website as more like a “hostel” experience. This is the perfect place to list that spare room in your house, especially if you are walking distance to a college campus. The website also caters to family members who want to visit college students, without having to go through the hassle of commuting to and/or from the nearest hotel after a long day touring a campus or watching the late local college football game. If you are going to list your home on this website, be prepared to be booked when school is in session (during the spring and fall), but you may experience some lack of bookings through this website during the winter and summer months as it’s likely that fewer people will be using the site.

These are the websites that are currently dominating the industry, but it is always changing and there are new sites popping up often, so check back in for more updates, and share your finds in the comments below!

Happy Booking!

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What to put in your Guest’s Welcome Basket

When including gifts for your guests in your welcome basket, be sure that you ask your guests of any food restrictions or allergies if you plan to purchase an edible gift. You can also ask your guests what the occasion for their trip is; perhaps a honeymoon? Maybe roses and champagne would be a nice gift, or perhaps if it is a family vacation, maybe a coloring book for the kids. Try to think of what you could provide (for minimal expense). The more thoughtful the gift, the more likely you are to get an extra positive review!

So, what goes into a perfect vacation rental welcome basket?  It combines both practical and personal items. Let’s take a look at the best items you can include!

 

PRACTICAL ITEM: COFFEE OR SHOWER SUPPLIES

Many people are self proclaimed coffee-fiends. So providing a coffee maker, or coffee pod dispenser could be essential is reaching that “superhost” status. The higher end your property is, the higher end your coffee machine and coffee brand should be. Provide plenty of coffee mugs for your guests as well in addition to creamers, sugar, stirrers, etc. 

If you opt for shower supplies, make sure they are gender-neutral. Shampoo, Condition, and Body Wash are optional, since most people will bring their own, but it is all about the thoughtful gestures here. Consider what type of products you are providing as well, some people may be allergic to certain chemicals in the options you provide. 

 

PERSONAL ITEM: LOCAL ITEMS

All travelers like these types of items. You can add artisan chocolate or a typical cheese from the area. Honey, jam or traditional pasta, etc. What is your town known for? Not everything has to be edible! You can also include handmade soaps, candles or similar things to enjoy once they are back at home. You can even think about partnering with other local businesses to provide these items as part of your welcome pack! Think about what makes your house unique, and what you love about the city or town you are in, and try to come up with something that is gender-neutral, that any guest could enjoy. (Food is my personal go-to for suggestions, because everyone’s gotta eat!)

It’s also a nice touch to provide a handwritten card welcoming your guest to your home.

You can place your welcome book inside your welcome basket as an added touch of originality as well!

This is an example of a creative way of displaying a gift for your guests- this host is providing sunglasses in Sunny San Diego for their guests! The glasses are only $3 each, but they are very thoughtful, and will help give this host a 5 star review!

This is an example of a creative way of displaying a gift for your guests- this host is providing sunglasses in Sunny San Diego for their guests! The glasses are only $3 each, but they are very thoughtful, and will help give this host a 5 star review!

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What to put in Your Welcome Book

Every vacation rental should have a welcome book!

First, what is a welcome book? It includes everything guests may want to know about your home, the area, the town, the city, the history, current events, trendy or new spots, transportation, places of interest, restaurants (best local pizza, best happy hour, late night food, etc.). It may seem like a lot of effort, but remember you’ll only have to provide this written information once – then you can reuse it for all your future guests. This is also a moment for you to reflect on fond memories of the house or the area your home is in. With these tips, you can now create a welcome pack that will leave your guests impressed and excited about their stay.

Don’t forget that presentation is important – Do not place a bunch of posters or papers all over a corkboard, this looks messy and as if your suggestions were an after thought for your guests, which you never want your guests to feel. You want to amaze your guests!

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Bathroom Decor Tips for Your Vacation Rental

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Give your bathroom the attention it deserves. Put away personal hygiene products. Scrub bathtubs, toilets, and shower walls. Make clean and bright your goal. I can not stress this enough- the level of cleanliness of your bathroom will be a key factor into your reviews. Provide at least two body towels, one hand, and one face towel for each guest. Make sure you also provide essential toiletries like hand soap, toilet paper, paper towels, etc. You should also provide a blow-dryer for your guests (one in every full bathroom). While it’s not necessary, it’s nice to provide your guest with toiletries they may have forgotten: toothbrush, toothpaste, Q-tips, cotton balls, etc. Should you choose to provide shampoo, conditioner, and body wash, consider travel sizes are best for new guests- this also can create a fond memoir when a guests leave your space and uses the products again during another trip, reminding them of your vacation rental, and possibly sparking repeat bookings. 

Your bathroom supplies should be easy to find and be full/new. Do not leave your previous guests half filled shampoo bottle in the shower- this will only remind your new guest that there was someone here before them. And while that is true, they do not need to be reminded of this fact. You would never see this happen in a quality hotel, so why would it be acceptable in your vacation rental? It’s almost on the same par as leaving hair in the shower. Eww!

 It’s also a great idea to provide your bathrooms with accessories that match (Tissue cover, trash can, canister, soap dish, etc.) as labels cause a visual distraction. Providing accessories that match gives a clean cohesive look. Just think about your favorite high-end hotel, they don’t leave out their tissue boxes with labels all over it, so why should you?

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Introducing my YouTube channel!

Hello Friends! I am excited to introduce to you my new YouTube channel! I am going to discuss what to do, and what not to do in your home.

In case you haven’t already seen it, here is my first video where I share with you why I chose to focus my interior design services on vacation rentals:

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Website Tips for Vacation Rentals

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DON’T UNDERESTIMATE THE POWER OF YOUR OWN WEBSITE

Don’t underestimate the power of your own website. Every reputable business you know of has its own website – and vacation rentals shouldn’t be any different. Besides listing on Online Travel Agencies (OTA’s) like Airbnb, having your own website provides travelers with a place to book directly with you – saving you both money on commissions that OTA’s would charge you if your guest were to book through their website instead.

Plus your website is the one advertising space you are completely in control of. For instance, if you were to solely rely on the bookings you got from OTA website’s, and they were to change their rules or policies, your listing might be pushed out of view of potential guests, or even worse, be removed completely! Why? Because they own their website and can whatever they like with it. This is why you want to host your own website in addition to OTA websites, so you are in control. You show your potential guests only what you want them to see, and everything you want them to see.

In addition, You can share testimonials, social media account information, more information about you, your property, or the area. This is the space where you can share any additional information not listed on the OTA websites. Having this information in addition to a personalized website also helps legitimize you as a business.

There are three most important elements of a vacation rental website:

          1. High-quality Professional photographs.

          2. A captivating description of the property and the area.

          3. Legitimate Positive Reviews or Testimonials of past guests.

 

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5 Interior Decor Tips for Your Vacation Rental You Should Start Using Right Now

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It is all about your guest’s experience

Since most vacation rental owners don’t have a degree in Hospitality, or 10+ years experience working at a hotel, there are often small but VERY important experiences that our guest’s have that we might be overlooking. Here is a list of items you should consider using in your vacation rental immediately- making you the super host in your area!

  1. Front Door: Make sure it has a clean doormat with a working light. Consider the condition and color of your door as well- does it need new paint? Maybe a pop of color so it draws more attention?

  2. Entry: Make sure there is an area to “drop” everything a guest will have with them by the front door (luggage, cellphone, keys, hats, jackets, etc.). You want your guests to have somewhere to dump everything while they take a look around and explore your room options and get themselves orientated with their new surroundings (without lugging everything with them, and possibly damaging the walls, doors, trim of your home).

  3. Living Room: Make sure the remotes to the TV are easy to find and navigate. The coffee table is also a great place to leave local magazines, your recommendations for guests, and a guest book (if you choose). You don’t want guests to have to hunt around the room for things they will need, so baskets are also a great way to keep these essential things all in one location.

  4. Bedroom: Make sure you have extra blankets. Just because you only need 1 blanket at night doesn’t mean your guests will feel the same way. It’s always better to over deliver than to under-deliver to your guests. Extra pillows are a nice gesture as well and don’t cost very much.

  5. Bathroom: Provide at least two body towels, one hand, and one face towel for each guest. Make sure you also provide essential toiletries like hand soap, shampoo, condition, and body wash. You should also provide a blow-dryer for your guests, and if you want those bonus points; robes. It’s also nice to provide your guest with toiletries they may have forgotten: toothbrush, toothpaste, Q-tips, cotton balls, etc. Your bathroom supplies should be easy to find and be full/new. Do no leave your previous guests half filled shampoo bottle in the shower- this will only remind your new guest that there was someone here before them. And while that is true, they do not need to be reminded of this fact. It’s also a great idea to provide your bathrooms with accessories that match (Tissue cover, trash can, canister, soap dish, etc.) and it is best to remove or cover all store labels as they cause a distraction. Travel size shampoo, conditioner, and body wash are best for new guests- this also can create a fond memoir when a guests leave your space and uses the products again during another trip, reminding them of your vacation rental, and possibly sparking repeat bookings.

  • Additional Tip: Consider how your space smells also. Use air fresheners when needed, but also air out your space when guests leave by opening the windows and letting in fresh air. Make sure all vents and ducts are cleaned monthly to keep that fresh scent in your home. One great way to keep a fresh scent in your home is to add a few drops of vanilla oil to your wall paint before you start painting. This keeps your walls fresh and your rooms smelling delicious.

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Decor Ideas for Your Vacation Rental’s Backyard

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Being that I am in California where it is sunny almost all year round, outdoor living space is a big deal here. As in most states, especially during the summer, many people want to enjoy the nice weather and be outside. So it only makes sense to put just as much thought and effort into your vacation rental’s outdoor living situation as you would inside.

Your Backyard/Patio/Balcony is your guest’s outdoor oasis-so let’s make it feel like one!

First, in order to make it feel like an oasis you have to consider the lighting situation. Do you have outdoor lighting? If so, how does the lighting make the space feel? Is there just one giant spot light that makes you feel like you are under interrogation? Or are there many small warm lights scattered throughout the space distributing light evenly across the entire area? Now for the lighting choice itself- Are you going for a modern clean line look? Or a whimsical bohemian vibe? These are two polar opposite types of lighting for a space, so you will need to pick a style and stick with it. Lighting color is also important. Stick to warm white light- it’s soft, romantic and gives your skin that healthy glowing color.

Second, you will need seating. How many seats will depend on how many beds you have (real or make-shift included). You will need 1 seat for each of the guests that would be sleeping in your vacation rental. If your space is designed for entertaining, you will want a couple of extra seats for additional guests. Consider how guests will use these seats too- will they be floor pillows that guests can lounge around with? Or dining chairs? Will the seats need cushions for comfort? If so, consider how and where the cushions will be stored.

Third, you will want some greenery. This not only makes the space feel less sterile, but also can make an impact on the inside of your unit as well if you have windows that face the yard space. You don’t need to over-do this space and make it feel like a jungle. But 1-3 plants certainly helps create a more welcoming space. One idea is to have some pots with herbs (mint, chives, rosemary, oregano, basil, or parsley). Not only are herbs quite resilient, they can also be used for cooking and they smell nice too! Be sure if you are going to have pots outside that you have a base to hold excess water. This will keep your floors clean and your plants healthy and not over watered. If you have plants that need attention during a portion of your guest’s stay, be sure to let them know that someone will be stopping by just to water the plants. If they value their privacy, they can move the plants to a more accessible, less intrusive location, but this should be decided on before they book their stay with you- as most people are on vacation and are not looking to do chores. For this reason I suggest getting evergreen or drought resistant plants- they require little maintenance and can withstand most weather patterns.

Last but certainly not least…. Use this area as an advertisement for your home! Not everyone will have a space like this for their guests- so if you’ve got it, flaunt it! Prep your space with accessories like towels, dinner ware, wine glasses, picnic baskets, magazines - whatever your guests might need or want when sitting in your outdoor space.

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Annoucing the release of my E-Book "How to Use Interior Design to Increase Your Vacation Rental Bookings!"

Guess what!? I wrote another small e-book! This one was written to help those who have vacation rentals increase their bookings by using what I know best- Interior Design. You’ll get boat loads of useful tips that you can start using immediately to help make you and your small business more money in your vacation rental(s)! Check it out on amazon (by clicking the image below). Let me know what you think!

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Social Media Tips for your Vacation Rentals

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SOCIAL MEDIA HAS CHANGED THE WAY PEOPLE TRAVEL

Social Media has changed the way people travel. Often times people aren’t even visiting travel websites to book their travel stays, they simply hop on social media, see a picture of a place they like and book through the links provided. The best part is, social media is free advertising for you!

People who book vacation rentals often share special iconic location with their friends and followers on social media, so having or creating a special experience to get your guests to post on social media are free advertisements, just for you! Your guests literally do the work for you.

It’s best to create your own personalized hashtag for your location as well. Think of something unique- maybe it has something to do with your street name (ex. #StateStreetHouse), or maybe what you want to be known for (ex. #BeachHouse), or maybe a combination of these things (ex. #StateStreetBeachHouse). Be creative!

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Is your Vacation Rental Hotel Quality?

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As you may (or may not) know, there are several known classifications for hotels. You may be thinking, “So?” Well if you own a vacation rental, you are competing with the hotels in your area. Though the motivation for someone to book a vacation rental is very different from those who book hotel rooms, none the less, they will most likely be looking at all their options before booking. So, with this in mind, you should consider what category your vacation rental falls under. For example Smith Travel Research (STR) has a “chain scale” where they break down hotel brands into several different tiers, based on their Average Daily Rate (ADR).

  • Economy

  • Midscale

  • Upper Midscale

  • Upscale

  • Upper Upscale

  • Luxury

Specifically, they state

Brands/Chains are slotted by Chain Scale based on the previous year’s annual system wide (global) Average Daily Rate. Rate ranges defining each Chain Scale are determined by STR. The STR Chain Scales – North America and Caribbean is a subsetof the larger Global Chain Scale list. Brand Chain Scale pairings are consistent with each list. Brands listed above are located in U.S., Mexico, Caribbean and Canada. If you have any questions about the Chain Scales, please email support@str.com. Copyright 2016. STR, Inc. Publishing or reproducing this information is strictly prohibited. www.str.com +1 (615) 824 8664. Last updated May 2016.

Luxury –

Luxury lodging has the following features:

  • Very high reputation and quality

  • Prime locations

  • Distinguished architecture, artwork and design (sometimes they are historic structures)

  • Superior service and staff

  • Numerous and luxurious facilities and amenities

  • Fine dining and 24–hour room service

  • Spacious, beautifully furnished rooms

  • Superior linens, finishes and materials

Upper Upscale –

Upper Upscale lodging has the following features:

  • Well–known, high–quality brands

  • Very convenient, often strategic locations

  • Attractive architecture, artwork, and sometimes dramatic design

  • Very professional service and staff

  • Many amenities and facilities

  • Quality dining

  • Large, comfortable rooms with top of the line furnishings

  • High–quality linens, finishes and materials

Upscale –

Clients can expect the following from Upscale lodging:

  • Very good quality and value

  • Convenient locations

  • Pleasant, often homelike or stylish architecture

  • Friendly and attentive staff

  • Good range of amenities and facilities

  • Pleasant dining in and/or near the hotel

  • Standard–sized, comfortable rooms

  • Quality linens and materials

Upper Midscale –

Upper Midscale lodging has the following features:

  • Simple, pleasant accomodations

  • Very good value

  • Convenient, often roadside or suburban locations

  • Simple, nice appearance, frequently with similar look and design for most properties

  • Helpful staff

  • Limited range of amenities and facilities

  • Dining usually limited, but often convenient to family dining and fast food

  • Standard–sized, nice rooms; but all–suite lodging in this category is spacious

  • Good linens and materials

Midscale –

The features of Midscale lodging are:

  • Simple, low–priced

  • Basic, sometimes older properties; often two– or three–story buildings

  • Adequately staffed

  • Few amenities, facilities and extras

  • Limited dining, perhaps simple breakfast included; family dining and fast food nearby

  • Adequate–sized rooms, with modest materials and furnishings, and average–quality linens

Economy –

Here’s what clients can expect from Economy lodging:

  • Simple, clean, no–frill, low–priced

  • Limited staff and hours

  • Basic amenities and facilities

  • Rarely have on–site dining; some nearby

  • Very modest–sized rooms, with basic materials and linens

Comparing brands and chains

Here are a few examples of some of the hotel chains you may know, and what category they fall under.

Best Western: 

  • Upscale – Best Western Premier

  • Upper Midscale – Best Western Plus

  • Midscale – Best Western

Choice: 

  • Upscale – Ascend, Cambria Suites

  • Upper Midscale – Clarion, Comfort Inn, Comfort Suites

  • Midscale – Mainstay Suites, Quality Inn, Sleep Inn

  • Economy – Econo Lodge, Rodeway Inn, Suburban Extended Stay

Club Carlson: 

  • Upper Upscale -Radisson Blu (don’t ask me though)

  • Upscale – Radisson

  • Upper Midscale – Park Inn, Country Inn and Suites

Hilton: 

  • Luxury – Conrad, Waldorf Astoria

  • Upper Upscale – Curio, Hilton, Embassy Suites

  • Upscale – Doubletree, Homewood Suites

  • Upper Midscale – Hampton Inn

Hyatt: 

IHG: 

  • Luxury – Intercontinental

  • Upper Upscale – Kimpton,

  • Upscale – Staybridge Suites, Hotel Indigo, EVEN, Crowne Plaza

  • Upper Midscale – Holiday Inn, Holiday Inn Express

  • Midscale – Candlewood Suites

Marriott: 

  • Luxury – Ritz-Carlton, JW Marriott

  • Upper Upscale – Marriott, Delta

  • Upscale – AC Hotels, Springhill Suites, Residence Inn, Courtyard by Marriott

  • Upper Midscale – Fairfield Inn, TownePlace Suites

Starwood: 

  • Luxury – W Hotel, Luxury Collection, St. Regis,

  • Upper Upscale – Le Meridien, Sheraton, Westin, Tribute Portfolio

  • Upscale – Aloft, Four Points, element

Wyndham: 

  • Upper Upscale – Wyndham, Dolce

  • Upper Midscale – Wyndham Garden, Tryp by Wyndham

  • Midscale – Wingate by Wyndham, Hawthorn Suites, Ramada, Baymont Inn and Suites

  • Economy – Microtel, Days Inn, Super 8, Howard Johnson, Travelodge, Knights Inn

For a couple of non-chain hotel brands, La Quinta is listed as Midscale while Drury Inn and Suites is listed as Upper Midscale.

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Why you should use White in Your Vacation Rental

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Why you should use white in your vacation rental

Think about it like a hotel. When you think of the W Hotel, you probably think high-end, cutting edge, modern, clean, friendly, customer service-orientated, etc. Most of their hotels focus on the color white because it subconsciously sends a message to our brains that says “clean”, since this is the color we associate most with clean.

For instance if I were to say the word “clean linen”, you probably don’t think of your dirty black work socks, right? Most of us will think of white bedding sheets. Also, hospitals use white in this same way. Just think if you were to walk into a hospital that had black walls and dark colored linens everywhere. Your brain would immediately think “this is not clean”.

So this same rule applies to vacation rentals. White is the color most associated with cleanliness, so use it as much as you can.

White can also be bleached, not only keeping your linens white, but also keeping them as germ-free as can be, and making laundry very easy.

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How to Build a Brand for your Vacation Rental using Interior Decor

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OWNERS HAVE TO BUILD A BRAND TO STAND OUT FROM THE CROWD

When advertising anywhere online, having an identifiable brand, or brand recognition is key. If I asked you to think of two colors associated with McDonald’s, you would think of red and yellow. This same concept applies to your vacation rentals. Especially if you have more than one. You want the feeling that color evoke to be the same across all of your properties. For instance, maybe you love the color blue- use shades of blue through-out your properties; everything from the outside to the inside. Don’t go crazy with this color, just add hints of this color throughout. This color should account for about 10-20% of the rooms color. All other colors should be neutral. This same color scheme can be used everywhere: your website, your logo, etc.

This helps associate these colors with your brand, establishing trust, which can not be bought.

Having your guest trust you is the ultimate goal. If your guests trusts you, then they will book again. The only way for your guest to trust you is to be consistent. What better (and easy) way to get them to trust you, than to establish consistency in your vacation rentals.

To be consistent, make sure you have the same brand of toilet paper, towels, bedding, pillows, etc. so they know they can depend on you to have what they love. Remember having a vacation rental is all about the home-away-from-home experience.

Having this consistence will also help you stand out from the nearby “crowd” of other vacation rentals, as most are owned and operated by the home owner, who probably doesn’t have a clue about how to create brand recognition- but you do!

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How to Price Your Vacation Rental

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Vacation Rentals are similar to boutique hotels in the sense that there are tiers of price ranges. Most hotels fall within a 5 tier category. Imagine Motel 6 being at the bottom, Best Western, Hilton, and Marriott falling in the middle, and the W Hotel landing at the top. As you can imagine not only will the price of the Motel 6 location be far cheaper than that of the W Hotel, it will also be furnished with items you would associate with this level of expense. For instance, you wouldn’t walk into a Motel 6 room and expect to see luxury linens, soft towels, quality fabrics, and crystal chandeliers. However if you were to walk into a W Hotel room and you opened the door to a run-down mattress, rough towels, low lighting, and a chair with a broken arm, you might be furious because the cost doesn’t match the quality.

These same principles apply to vacation rentals. Whatever price you have chosen to list your property at, it will need to match the expectation associated with that price tag for your guests. If your property is in an area with several ‘Motel 6 quality’ rentals around you, then you could opt for cheaper furnishings to match your competition. However if your rental is in an area where other rentals are ‘W Hotel’ quality, you will need to match this as well if you want to keep up with the competition and not be priced out of the market. After all, who wants to pay $300 a night for a $60 a night quality? This is where a lot of home owners mis-step when turning their properties into vacation rentals. How do you know what quality looks like? Hire a professional- like me! After all, this was supposed to be a passive venture for you, you don’t need to stress over whether your sofa is ‘W Hotel quality’ or ‘Motel 6’, that’s my job! I know this industry inside and out, I can go into detail about what makes one piece of furniture worth it’s price tag in value, but all you want is passive income, right? Unless of course, you really do want to know these details, which I am happy to share with any client as well, but you most likely won’t have time to do all this research and order the furniture before your first booking (hopefully!). So all you really need to remember is that there are different tiers of price tags associated with each rental and the area it is located in. Leave the rest of the work to the professionals who will bring a higher value to your rental and make you more money in the long run!

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Your Vacation Rental isn't just a hobby, it's a Business!

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So you just bought a new vacation rental, now what?

Running a vacation rental is a lot of work. Many people now make it their sole job to keep vacation rentals up and running. There are so many parts to keep track of; from booking, to bookkeeping, to cleaning and making sure everything is as described in your listing- there’s no wonder this can become a full time job for some. But don’t worry! It’s not as hard as it seems.

Since you are now running a small business with your new vacation rental, any new business idea requires a business plan. By setting objectives from the outset, you have a realistic plan to adhere to, and to measure your success against. As part of this process, you’ll need to first define what you want to get out of your ideal vacation rental. Do you want it booked on the weekends so you can enjoy it during the weekdays? Or do you want a professional to rent it during the weekdays and you can use it on the weekend? Maybe you don’t want to use it at all and just want it to cash flow for you. Maybe this is just enough cash flow to cover the mortgage, or maybe you want to fully live off of this income. Whatever your goals are, you’ll need to set a nightly rate first. How? Take a look at your competition. Is your rental nicer than theirs? If not, how can you improve it so that you can get top dollar for your rental as well? One of the easiest ways to immediately add value to your property is to use a professional designer’s expertise to turn your property into a money making machine. That’s where I come in! You can contact me by clicking on the contact page on my website.

Sources: 

AllTheRooms will give you an idea of rental rates for all vacation rentals in your area.

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How to Add A Personal Touch to your Vacation Rental Using Interior Decor

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More and more travelers are choosing vacation rentals for a “home-away-from-home” adventure. One sure-fire way that owners can help guests to have the best time possible is by sharing recommendations of your own favorite places with anybody who stays there.

Preparing a local guidebook for travelers is both a thoughtful and helpful addition to any vacation rental. As you’ll already have plenty of local suggestions for eating, drinking, etc.

Creating a personal list of your local favorites will help your guests feel more welcome and like one of the locals, giving them a truly unique experience. You can do this by including your curated recommendations by incorporating it into the decor. This could be photos of local music concerts or historic landmarks. You can also incorporate your food recommendations (restaurants, markets, grocery stores) by supplying a map with their locations and your own personal reviews of why you like each location. You can even include a favorite recipe for the grocery store locations.

These lists can be incorporated into the decor in many different ways- anything from chalkboard walls to framed lists on the wall in fancy writing. Be creative with your list and how you show guests!

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The Best Mattresses

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As you probably already know, mattress shopping is one of the most tedious tasks you could do for your home. Yet mattresses are also one of the most important items to purchase. Mattress’ provide you with a good night sleep,which is important for your health. We all have a story about a bed that we have slept in which gave us a bad night’s sleep- very similar to the story of Goldie-locks and the Three Bears who tried all the porridge to find the right one. Hotels know this better than everyone as their business is based around a good night sleep.

To help narrow down your mattress search, I’ve listed some of the best mattresses, which you can test out at home for a trial period!

SPRING MATTRESS: Luxury Firm Saatra Mattress. Why? Because of their:

  • HIGH-QUALITY-  Designed to provide perfect contouring comfort for a restful night’s sleep with advanced coil-on-coil construction and enhanced lumbar support.

  • AFFORDABLY PRICED— Experience a premium mattress without paying a premium price. No retail overhead = No markups. No gimmicks. No pushy salespeople.

  • ECO-FRIENDLY— Designed to be as eco-friendly as possible, with an organic cotton pillow top, recycled steel coils, an antimicrobial treatment, and a natural thistle flame retardant, Our Mattress has no chemical sprays, formaldehyde, so you can sleep worry-free.

  • RISK-FREE— 120-night trial, free shipping & setup, 15-year warranty, 24/7 Customer Service

MEMORY FOAM MATTRESS: Loom & Leaf Mattress. Why? Because of their:

  • QUALITY MATERIALS- Engineered with 4 layers including premium, high-density memory foam that provides support while contouring and conforming to your body.

  • SLEEPS COOL- The Designed to sleep cool with a non-toxic, proprietary cooling gel layer.

  • ECO FRIENDLY- Memory foam mattresses designed to be as eco-friendly as possible, with an organic cotton pillow top, eco-friendly foam, a natural thistle flame retardant, and an antimicrobial treatment.

  • UNMATCHED VALUE- By eliminating the overhead associated with retail stores, we were able to put in all of the luxury features found in premium mattresses. We could charge a lot more for the Loom & Leaf, but we prefer to pass the savings on to you.

  • SUPERIOR SERVICE- 120-night trial, free shipping & setup, 15-year warranty, 24/7 Customer Service

LUNA MATTRESS COVER

  • Made of cotton, in the USA.

  • Protects against allergens, dust mites, bacteria, perspiration, urine and fluids (15-Year Warranty)

  • 100% waterproof membrane with fitted sheet style design - Queen Size Mattress Protector - 60" x 80" fits up to 18" deep

  • Luna Airflow Technology allows air to circulate through the protector, but repels liquids

  • Hypoallergenic cotton terry surface is noiseless, will not change the feel of your mattress and naturally absorbs moisture

  • Great for asthma, eczema and allergy sufferers (every Luna mattress protector is sourced and made in USA)

STANDARD TEXTILE Pillows

Pillows are just as important as your selection of mattress. Standard Textile is one of the best companies I have found for pillow options. These pillows can be found in luxury hotels around the world, and are engineered for maximum comfort in all sleep positions. These are constructed with three chambers, no-shift construction provides comfort and support. Outer chambers contains hypoallergenic gel fiber, while the inner core is filled with sterilized duck feathers.

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How to Organize & Declutter Your Home

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Now that the holidays over, it’s time to focus on a new year and new beginnings, and what better way to start off the new year than with a clean slate- literally!

Check out my e-book HERE on Amazon for only 99 cents!

Here is what you will learn from this book:

  • How to Start

  • How to Make a Schedule

  • How to create a check-list

  • How, What and where to store important information

  • Ideas on how to start organizing and keep organized

  • How to clean up

  • How to create a command center (and even involve your kids- if you have any)

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The 5 Step Process To Working With An Interior Designer

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It can be very confusing to work with a designer, especially if this is your first time. So let me break down what we do into a 5 step process:

  1. Initial Client Contact: You hop online or ask a friend for a designer in town that they worked with or know of. You call or email that designer to ask about their services. Maybe you chat a little bit about what styles you like, what the scope of your project is, your budget, etc.

  2. Set up an in-person Meeting on Site: You meet the designer at your home so they can take measurements, you can chat more in depth about what kind of services are needed, maybe they even make some suggestions for you. Sometimes Designers will charge for this meeting, as it does take their time away from other projects, but often times Designers will credit back a client the initial design fee once the contract is signed (I do!). You will have to discuss these details with your designer, as everyone runs their business’ a little differently.

  3. The Designer will take all of their notes and measurements, turn these into a “project scope” which will be outlined in their contract agreement. If you agree to their prices and the scope of work they are suggesting, then you can move into the next step:

  4. The Designer gets to work on your project! They will usually start with a floorplan, drafting your space and figuring out what size furniture will fit best in the room. Then the designer will access their vendor lists and select furniture that is the right size and scale for your space. Often times designers have access to vendors that clients do not (I certainly have a great list of vendors!). Designers will use these furniture selections to create a few options for you and your space (I usually provide 3 options for clients in the “first run”). Of these three options, clients can pick what they love, don’t love, want to see more options of, etc. There are NO HARD FEELINGS if you don’t love what a designer came up with. Really! Don’t feel bad if the selections they picked for you aren’t perfect for you and your home. It is your home, you are going to live there, surrounded by these things- your Designer is not. Be PIcky! Designers are trained to “read between the lines” so they more specific you can get about what you love, don’t love, and why, the better! This is where I think most clients are concerned; “What if my designer takes control and I don’t have a say?” Well, unless you are on TV and the entire design is a surprise to you, the process should be a type of partnership. You should work TOGETHER with your designer. REMEMBER: You came to them because you liked their aesthetic (or you liked what your friend or family member’s house).

  5. After you and the designer have selected all the furniture, art, accessories, drapes, etc. in your home, the Designer will come up with a budget (or this may be discussed along the way during your “revisions” in Step 4. Once the total budget has been determined, the Designer will (or should) present you with what we call “cutsheets” which are sheets of paper with each item and all the details about that product written down. For example, if it is a custom sofa, it will have the fabric color, leg color, type of cushion, type of leg, length/width/depth, etc. to make sure what you and the designer discussed are the same, and that you both came to the agreement of all the details on their piece of furniture. Each vendor will require different “down-payments”, sometimes it is half the total cost, sometimes more or less. Your designer and you can discuss how payments will be made. Then your designer and their team will start purchasing and coordinating shipments and deliveries. You can either have the “grand reveal” like the TV shows, or you can have items shipped directly to your house as they are ready. I usually suggest the “grand reveal” because it allows for the Designer to correct any errors prior to delivery, and if items are delivered, they may not have the right space to be stored. For example, if you order a table lamp, but don’t have the table the lamp is supposed to sit on yet, where will you safely store this lamp?

  6. Installation: (This isn’t really a step in working with a designer, but it is good to know what happens on the day of installation). Designers will coordinate with all professionals needed for times and dates that work with everyone’s schedule. Once the installation is complete, the final reveal happens! You get to see your whole “new” space for the first time. You and the designer should walk around the room, making sure everything is working, there are no broken or damaged pieces (if there are, the designer will work directly with the vendor to handle this usually), then you can sign the final bill, and write that final check. Now, you get to enjoy your space! Have a party, invite friends, family, and neighbors over! Show off your professionally designed space!

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How to make your Guests Feel at Home

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Since our homes are often filled with family and friends for the holidays, likely the hardest part of making your home feel welcoming to guests is finding the motivation to get started. I get it. Life gets busy, and preparing your guestroom is probably the last thing on your mind.

Often times people travel for the holidays and stay with friends and family. As a host you want your home to look beautiful, and welcoming to your overnight guests.  Here are a few helpful hints to remember when preparing for guests:

The Prep Work

Declutter

Do your best to de-clutter the room so your guests feel comfortable moving around the space. Check out our e-book “How to Organize and Declutter Your Home” for more help with this!   

Clean

Clean thoroughly. Clean the surface. Then, clean deeper. Give extra attention to corners and windows and hard-to- reach areas.

Bathroom

Just like in the bathroom, make clean and bright your goal. If you’ve successfully removed a good portion of personal possessions, you’ll find this task far easier to complete.

Give your bathroom the attention it deserves. Put away personal hygiene products. Scrub bathtubs, toilets, and shower walls. Make clean and bright your goal.

Bathroom Needs- Make sure whatever bathroom your guests are using is well stocked with toiletries and easy for them to use and replace if needed. It’s also nice to have extra toothbrushes, hair ties, toothpaste, etc. for guests who might have forgotten these items. Also, be sure to have plenty of towels and washcloths.  

Bedroom

Have a light on the nightstand next to the bed for those people who may be “night owls” or perhaps may need to get up during the night.

Lots of pillows and bedding: keep sheet sets together by placing a neatly folded set inside its matching pillowcase or, for a pretty and functional detail, tie the whole set with ribbon.

Provide a place for guests to unpack. Having an empty dresser is nice, but if that’s not possible or not something you want to encourage with your guests, be sure to leave some empty floor space or a resting place for your guests to easily open their luggage.

Provide privacy. This means doors, window treatments, etc. to help make the room more private.

Temperature controls- whether you provide a fan or heater (depending on where you live), be sure your guests are comfortable.

Kitchen

Kitchen utensils- including enough silverware for you and your family, but also enough for your guests too. Nothing's worse than running around your kitchen trying to find your guest a clean fork.

Entertain

If your guests are staying with you during your normal work week, it’s always nice to have a copy of your key made so they can come and go as they please.

To entertain your guests while you are at work or otherwise unable to entertain your guests yourself, I suggest making a list of local tourist attractions, or a list of your favorite local spots so they have something to do while you are away.


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