Today’s OBX Vacation Rentals
Maximizing Your Rental Performance: Tips on Rental Management, Cottage Outfitting, Upgrading and More
You own a beautiful beach house, and your rentals have probably been great the last couple of years thanks to high demand and extended seasons due to remote learning and flexible work. Now, what? How do you build on that success and level-up your rental?
Whether you manage your property yourself or work with a professional property manager, there are some things you should consider to get the most out of your rental home.
Renting a vacation home to others means you are in the hospitality business. You are providing the setting for prized family beach vacations. Many have likely saved for an entire year to afford this vacation, and have been anticipating their time at the beach for just as long. Their expectations are set high for not only a clean home filled with amenities and features, but for a memorable experience.
Surprise and delight your guests and benefit from repeat business and glowing guest reviews. Provide them something unexpected, like treats for their dog, a personal note congratulating them on their anniversary, or something they can take home to remember their vacation hosted by you.
Outfitting Your Home for Guests
First, consider what you would want to have in a rental house at the beach, and pay attention to detail. If you can’t stay in your home to see what conveniences you are missing, ask a friend to stay for a weekend to give some helpful advice.
For example, is the seating in the gathering area enough for the party size your home would attract? Would you feel comfortable snuggling with your kids on the sofa? You could consider an upholstery cleaning or furniture covers to get another year or two out of a faded sofa. Repair or replace anything that is broken or no longer serves its purpose. Remove unnecessary clutter, or dust collectors like fake plants. Décor should be functional and fun, but simple and easy to clean.
Are your kitchen appliances modern and in working order? Do you have the basics a guest would need to cook and serve a meal? Consider the condition of your kitchen contents, and whether you would want to use those pots and pans to prepare a meal for your family. You also need enough place settings for the party size.
One of the easiest things you can do for guest satisfaction is to replace flat or stained pillows. You can task your property manager to do this for you each rental season. Bedspreads don’t need to be fancy, but should fit the bed size comfortably, be stain-free, and easy to launder, and color coordinated to the décor of the room.
Replace uncomfortable or sagging mattresses with good quality mattresses. Guests with back aches from sagging mattresses don’t leave good reviews. And when making bedding decisions, when possible, put in a king bed instead of a queen, and a queen bed instead of a double. Size matters.
SmartTVs enable guests to log on with their favorite streaming apps which is convenient, but don’t forget to offer live TV for your guests to watch sports, news, network TV and weather. YouTubeTV and Hulu offer affordable broadcast streaming options.
Create an outdoor living space for your guests. Let them entertain outside and reduce wear and tear inside your home. All you need is a comfortable outdoor seating arrangement, an outdoor carpet to define the area, and hang some string lights for magical evening ambience. Step it up, and add a Tiki bar near an outlet for a blender and bar set-up.
Right price, to the Right People at the Right Time
How do you price your rental? If you set it and forget it, you might be missing opportunities to make more money or more bookings.
Your property’s booking window is the date range your home would typically book. There are variables that affect your booking window such as the location of your home, the number of bedrooms, major amenities like a private pool, and whether your home allows guests to bring their dogs. Homes with more desirable variables will be in higher demand, and in general will book earlier than homes without them.
Knowing your booking window will help you to know when to raise or lower your rates based on demand. Sites like Airbnb or Vrbo offer tools to see how your home compares with other homes in the market. If your home is managed by a professional property manager, ask them how they are managing your rates.
Treat your vendors and cleaners well. You need them more than they need you.
If it is prime season, Outer Banks vendors are all working at top capacity, so fitting in emergencies isn’t easy. Make sure you always treat your vendors well. The most important thing to do, is to pay them on time. Nearly every vendor on the Outer Banks is a small business with costs and payroll to cover.
Delayed payments can be detrimental to these small businesses. A kind year-end gift, or tipping workers for a job well-done could also show that you appreciate them.
In closing, not all guests will be happy with their vacation, and they will communicate their dissatisfaction with you. I have found that they want to be heard, they want a timely response, and they want to know that we care. I’ll share with you a personal insight that has helped me in guest services over the years. I don’t have a degree in philosophy, but I have noticed that people tend to reflect behaviors. Most people tend to have a difficult time being mean to someone who is being nice to them. So, in the words of Dalton, from Road House, “Be nice.” It can be contagious, and just might get you that glowing guest review after all.