13 Vacation Rental Tips for Owners

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There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to what makes a vacation rental successful.

However, leading vacation rental operators tend to follow tried-and-true vacation rental advice focusing on creating positive guest experiences and an enticing online impression.

  1. Treat Your Vacation Rental as a Business, Not a Hobby
  2. Take Great Vacation Rental Photos
  3. Implement Instant Book for Better Occupancy Rates
  4. Choose the Right Cancelation Policy 
  5. Get Good Reviews: Focus on Guest Satisfaction
  6. Learn How to Set a Cleaning Fee That Doesn’t Deter Guests
  7. Leverage Dynamic Pricing
  8. Pick the Best Type of Property for Your Goals  
  9. Keep It Clean: Cleanliness Impacts Your Vacation Rental Ratings 
  10. Attract More Guests with Only the Best Amenities 
  11. Be Pet-Friendly—And Earn More Revenue
  12. Benchmark Your Property’s Performance
  13. Be Unique: Ideas Outside the Box Get More Guests

1. Treat Your Vacation Rental as a Business, Not a Hobby

When it comes to vacation rental advice, this tip is key: Always keep in mind that your vacation rental is a business—and that business is shaped by the decisions you make. When you approach your Airbnb or Vrbo properties with a business mindset, you’ll begin to better understand your product, your market, and your competition. You’ll discover your ideal customers and how to reach them, and you’ll aim for clear goals and create effective strategies for how to reach them.

Successful businesses are data-driven, and you should be, too, with goals that are specific and measurable. You’ll need relevant data in order to see what’s working and what’s not to make decisions on next steps. For example, by uploading your listings into the My Properties interface in AirDNA’s MarketMinder, you’ll unlock need-to-know metrics that can help you competitively price and manage your properties. 

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2. Take Great Vacation Rental Photos 

A picture is worth a thousand words, as well as several thousands of dollars if you take good Airbnb photos. The more (representative) photos you have, the higher your occupancy rate. But be sure to include 20-40 verified photos. Guests want to know that their experience matches the listing. Give them peace of mind by including verified photos, and see your effort pay off with higher occupancy rates.

Don’t sweat it if you’re unconfident in your photography skills. There are plenty of online resources that teach you how to take excellent photos with your smartphone. But, if you’d rather hire a professional Airbnb photographer, the short term rental giant makes it easy to do. 

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3. Implement Instant Book on Airbnb for Better Occupancy Rates

In our fast-paced world, people expect instantaneous buys and bookings; they don’t want to wait for you to accept their reservation request. Do your guests (and your occupancy rate) a favor by implementing Instant Book. 

By giving your guests the option to book immediately, you’re not only guaranteeing their spot, but boosting your ranking on Airbnb’s Search Engine Results Page. This means that your listing will pop up ahead of others, letting guests lay eyes on your property before others. If you have stellar photos, you’re among the top listings, and guests can book instantly, you can anticipate a 4.1%–5.7% increase in your  occupancy rates.

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4. Choose the Right Cancelation Policy 

No two Airbnb hosts will agree on which cancellation policy is best; cancellation policies are split somewhat evenly among hosts. Whatever you decide, be strategic. Strict cancellation policies often make more sense for hosts with nicer properties. These hosts can usually afford to lose a few bookings here and there. 

On the other hand, hosts with more modest properties generally benefit from a flexible policy that allows guests to cancel up to the day before their stay. 

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5. Get Good Airbnb Reviews: Focus on Guest Satisfaction

Every new vacation rental host wants to know how to get good reviews. The answer’s simple, really: be a good host and offer a great experience. That’s easier said than done sometimes, but overall, it’s a proven approach. And it pays off; your Airbnb business is based on positive reviews, so better reviews bring in more guests.

If you have a single property and can be pretty hands-on, ensuring guests have everything they need is pretty easy. It’s when you scale your Airbnb/vacation rental that it becomes harder to keep an eye on guest satisfaction. In fact, the data shows that non-professional (read: hosts with only one or two properties) perform better than hosts with a dozen (or dozens of) properties. 

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If you are looking to scale your vacation rental operations, or even thinking about hiring a property manager for your sole property, be sure to choose a top-rated Airbnb Property Manager/vacation rental Property Manager to ensure your guests have a great stay—and leave a positive review to let potential guests know. 

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6. Learn How to Set a Cleaning Fee That Doesn’t Deter Guests

This vacation home rental tip is one of the most polarizing topics among hosts. 

Should you set a steep fee in case you have inconsiderate guests? Or should you lower your Airbnb cleaning fee to attract potential guests? It all depends, really; there’s no blanket answer here. 

However, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t multiple correct answers. As a host, you have to do what’s right for you and your goals. If you find that guests are booking other comparable properties in your area, take a hard look at your cleaning fee.

AirDNA data shows that cleaning fees need to align with the property size — there’s no reason to have a steep fee for a small property. 

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There may be a good reason to bring it down, too: having a low cleaning fee can boost your Airbnb occupancy (even at a higher ADR). On the flip side, high cleaning fees can actually be justified if you’re armed with good reviews.

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7. Leverage Dynamic Pricing

No host optimizes their revenue, occupancy rate, ADR, or guest satisfaction by setting their pricing and never updating it. To truly boost your property’s performance, you need to leverage dynamic pricing. 

This approach lets you adjust your nightly rate to match supply and demand in your area. If there’s an event in your area a few months down the road, up your price to capitalize on increased demand. If it’s the slow season, adjust accordingly there, too. 

If it sounds like a lot of work, don’t worry.  AirDNA’s Smart Rate integration with Futurestay does the heavy lifting for you. With Smart Rates, you don’t even need to learn how to change weekend pricing on your Airbnb listing, let alone keep up with weekday vs. weekend Airbnb rates. It’s pricing, simplified. 

Besides taking stress off your plate, dynamic Airbnb pricing can increase revenue, and help you outperform other properties in your market. For Airbnb hosts, pricing has never been easier. Do yourself a favor and skip the slog of manually updating your nightly rates, and watch your revenue increase. Just be sure to keep an eye on pacing and future data so you know what’s on the horizon in terms of booking activity.

8. Pick the Best Type of Property for Your Goals 

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, buying vacation rental property was a solid investment for virtually all property types. But throughout the darkest days of the pandemic to the present, the best type of property for vacation rentals has been larger homes. It makes sense: guests from cramped, urban areas craved more space. “Friend bubbles” felt safer renting large, spacious properties spread apart from other homes. 

Hosts with Airbnb investment properties with 5+ bedrooms routinely performed better than hosts with smaller spaces throughout the pandemic. The trend is likely to hold, at least until the pandemic is truly behind us. So, if you can afford a large property, the numbers say it’s an excellent investment. For a look at the best places to invest in a vacation rental, see AirDNA’s report. ​

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Compare markets based on home size

9. Keep It Clean: Cleanliness Impacts Your Vacation Rental Ratings

Though we’ve already discussed vacation rental cleaning fees, it’s important to reiterate that guests have new standards for “clean.” While short-term rentals gave many people a much-needed escape from daily life during the depths of the pandemic, hosts (and those who kept hosts’ properties clean) upped their cleaning protocol. Now, guests expect a sparklingly clean stay every time—and why shouldn’t they? No one wants to stay in a dirty or uncared-for space 

Besides it being a good practice for hosts to offer their guests a clean place to stay, it’s good for your business, too. Before the pandemic, hosts who scored high on cleanliness enjoyed a 2.3% occupancy rate increase compared to hosts who scored lower. In 2021, hosts with high cleanliness rates saw their occupancy rates increase by 6.8% over hosts in the seven-to-eight category of cleanliness. Even if you’re only looking at it from a financial perspective, Airbnb reviews on cleanliness improve occupancy rates.  

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Analyze my neighborhood

10. Attract More Guests with Only the Best Vacation Rental Amenities

Guests don’t just expect a palace to stay, they expect an experience. You can’t get by on just offering plush towels, mid-tier linens, and some spotty Wi-Fi. Guests expect more, and the most successful vacation rentals have the most in-demand amenities for their market. 

The best Airbnb amenities help your property stand out from the rest—and offer your guests a memorable experience. These 13 amenities earn more  Airbnb bookings; if you have a fireplace, AC, hot tub, or allow pets, and other amenities guests love, you could earn much more than competitors who don’t, depending on your market. In short, find out which amenities make the most sense for revenue, occupancy rates, and ADR, and make changes if you can. 

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See earning potential

11. Be Pet-Friendly—And Earn More Revenue

Should you allow pets? Absolutely. The data shows that pet-friendly vacation rentals earn more than those that don’t allow pets. And, really, you have nothing to lose by allowing pets. Vacation rental pet fees vary wildly, but you should rest easy knowing that, should a four-legged guest ruin a rug, the pet fee covers it. 

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Get annual revenue stats

12. Benchmark Your Property’s Performance

If you’re serious about increasing your Airbnb property rates, you need to get serious about benchmarking your property’s performance. The most successful properties benchmark against their competition. 

In MarketMinder, you can connect your listing, create a custom comp set, and see your property’s free Booking Performance Score. Think of it like a credit score, for your vacation rental — one simple metric to keep weekly tabs on your properties performance compared to the competition. 

You’ll also be able to create a custom comp set to keep tabs on your competition’s performance. Doing so will help you make the changes you need to outpace competitors—or stay with a strategy that’s already working.

13. Be Unique: Ideas Outside the Box Get More Guests

Guests choose vacation rentals for several reasons. But one of the biggest reasons is to stay in a unique space. If your property blends in with the rest, it’s difficult to attract some of the most selective guests. If you’re eyeing a new property, go for a unique one. While this may not be an option for every host, it’s an excellent investment. 

If you already have a property, do anything you can to make it stand out from the pack, and make it feel like an experience your guests will want to document and return to. If that’s the case, you can rest assured they’ll leave a positive review. With just a few solid ideas, you can turn a modest bedroom into a plush, memorable one. 

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A business based on exceeding expectations

Running a vacation rental is a business. But as these tips for renting your vacation home show, it’s a business that revolves around making people happy. You can reach vacation rental success by simply going beyond your guests’ expectations in areas such as cleanliness and amenities. You can make the effort to present your property in its best possible light with professional photos and competitive pricing. And by leveraging custom data to plan, refine, and optimize your vacation rental operations. Following these proven best practices will help you create positive experiences for your guests and success for your business.

News Source: Courtesy of: AirDNA.com

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