vacation rental

Are vacation rentals dead?

I hear this question a lot, and I think it is due to the new laws that are being passed almost daily in different counties, cities, states, and even on a federal level trying to limit or ban short term vacation rentals from their area.

While there are some people who oppose the expansion of vacation rentals for various personal reasons, ( I’ve heard everything from “my rental rates will increase” to “I don’t want someone running a business out of a home next to mine” — shocking, I know) there is no rational reason to oppose short term vacation rentals, and there’s no end in sight. This industry is BOOMING and will only continue to grow further as more and more people list their homes on OTA websites like Airbnb, VRBO, Booking.com, etc. while they travel.

Gone are the days of time shares, with limited dates and high rates, we have moved into the 21st century. Since a majority of short term vacation rental travelers are millennials or young families, their travel habits have changed dramatically from supporting old business models like time shares and hotels, and have moved into a more communal and shared way of traveling through short term vacation rentals, which you can also see this trend with industries like Taxis, Uber, Lyft and other ride share options. 

Popular sites like Airbnb are paving new ways to travel, and large hotel corporations are being threatened. Instead of supporting the few, popularity has shifted to supporting the many by putting small amounts of cash into homeowners pockets rather than large hotel corporations. This industry has grown so much that Airbnb has completed an acquisition of HotelTonight!

Here are some interesting global stats for you from around the World:

Vacasa, a vacation rental firm, has opened a real estate brokerage in Oregon. Vacasa Real Estate will help buyers and sellers of vacation rental properties find homes along the Oregon coast and other popular vacation rental markets throughout the state.

VRBO has announced a partnership with US mortgage lending firm Quicken Loans to allow confirmed revenue earned through the platform to qualify for mortgage refinancing through reviewing the property owner’s income. Property categories eligible for the scheme include both primary residences and vacation properties.

Now, as bigger companies begin to move into the short term vacation rental arena, they will not slow down now. This may have once been a hobby, or after thought of turning part (or your entire) home into a “temporary hotel” where guests paid you much smaller fees than the large hotels in your area to simply sleep for a night, has turned into an entire business model for some people. Many people who started as vacation rental owners have now moved into managing other vacation rentals. Not only creating a new job for themselves, but also helping spur on the economy by bringing in new tourists daily to support the city they are in. 

As history has already shown here, short term vacation rentals are here to stay, and this industry is only going to grow larger.  

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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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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 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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Get more for your vacation rental!

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If you have a vacation rental, or are considering renting your home out as a vacation rental, hiring a designer could help you get top dollar! 

A Designer will help layout your home so that it functions at its best and feels welcoming. Often times when we live in a space for a long period of time, we often overlook little details that a designer could point out that might make a guest feel unwelcome. For instance, family photos can add a touch of personality to a home, but it can also make a guest feel unwelcome- as if they are staying in a room that belongs to someone else. While this might literally be the case, you don't want a paying guest to feel as if they are staying in someone else's room.   

Designers are great at making a room feel pulled together, but also welcoming. Many designers offer design only services and paid-for advise (I do!), in which they will share their professional opinion on your room, so you can get top dollar!  

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