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9 Steps to Create a Great Vacation Rental Property

House and pool at nightBy Shelagh Duncan

There are vacation rental properties and there are Great vacation rental properties. Owning a Great rental property can make you stand out from the crowd and will ensure that your property is rented as often as you’d like it to be. This will also ensure that you not only get top dollar, but repeat customers. So if you have a rental home, use this as your resource to help you create that great rental property.

  1. Build a team.

A property manager will act as the liaison between you and the renter so choose seasoned professionals. They can make sure that your renters are comfortable, and they can promptly deal with any queries or complaints and ensure a great renter experience. They can also encourage good online reviews from happy renters. This is a priceless resource!

Royal Palm Interiors

Most rentals are selected on the internet so make sure your site is professional, smart and easy to navigate. Ask for help if this is not your thing. Give a full description of the home, the amenities and the area—and keep it up to date. Give accurate descriptions—minor misrepresentations can become major annoyances, so be honest in your descriptions. That promised ‘big ocean view’, that is now behind all those trees, or that “third bedroom” that is the size of a closet will come back to haunt you. Add photos for every room and the outside areas, and add a map so they have an idea of the location. Night photos can look beautiful and inviting, so include one or two of those.

You will be competing against dozens if not hundreds of other homes, so consider hiring a professional photographer (or gifted amateur) to take some first rate photos. Think of this as an investment, those photos will pay for themselves in no time. Professional Property Managers will also list your property and show the photos on their website too.

  1. Keep your vacation rental updated

Vacationers are on vacation! They want at least the same amenities and comforts they have at home, but with a vacation resort ambiance. Your rental should be a bright and clean space that can comfortably accommodate the friends or family who travel with them. Furniture should be clean, comfortable and stylish. This isn’t to say you have to spend a lot of money to furnish your rental, but you don’t want your guests to feel as though they’ve walked into a home that has all your tired, old furniture.

Furnish your property with the same care you would for your own home—but with a different focus. A rule of thumb is to furnish it to the highest level you can. That will help it look superior to others in that same price range, and will probably get you more bookings.

Walls should be or should look freshly painted. White walls are easy to touch-up and to clean, and in a very modern home will make a fabulous statement—but in the average home they can look cold and clinical. Even a soft yellow will tone down the stark feel, so think about your wall colours as a part of your overall design.

Fix every ‘small’ problem before it becomes a big one. We all know that power cuts happen here and the internet is less than reliable, especially in high season. Be honest with your renters. Prepare them for these contingencies and offer solutions where possible.

  1. Don’t skimp on comfort

Royal Palm Bedroom collectionAnother important feature that is often forgotten is that people want comfort—and renters are people too. A frequent complaint is that although looking nice and tropical, those ‘Bali-style’ sofas or bamboo chairs feel a bit like sitting on a board or a brush pile—and that is what renters will remember! Invest in something that will allow your renters a comfortable place to chill and unwind, and you can be sure they will remember what a great experience renting your property was.

If you decide to furnish it yourself be diligent. Cheap furniture can often cost you more in the long run. Before you buy any sofas or chairs try them out yourself. Ask about guarantees, and the quality and durability of the fabric. Do not forget that you are not buying the sofa for your lifestyle and tastes. You are buying a practical and durable workhorse that will not be treated with the same care and respect that you and your family would. It may not be they style you would choose back home, but it should be stylish and comfortable of course, and at the same time sensible—and fit the resort vibe.

There are furniture packages available that are specially designed for rental properties. The furniture is chosen to be sturdy, comfortable and stylish, and comes with durable fabrics and finishes. This is a great help especially if you are not here, or do not have the time to shop around.

  1. Make your renters feel like they are on vacation

Create a resort ambiance. They are coming on vacation to escape the treadmill back home. They want to soak up the sun, warmth, and adventure of Costa Rica. They are looking for something that will appeal to the vision they have of a tropical paradise—an exotic and tropical getaway.

In the house they are renting, they will want to enjoy the same sort of luxury, comfort and amenities that they would associate with a good hotel—but with the obvious benefits of renting a house. They definitely do not want it to look like a house back home! That is why the furniture and decor you select is so important. You may think ‘Palm Tree’ or ‘Parrot’ wall art is kitschy, but consider how those images—tastefully done—will get your potential vacation renters attention, and promote the tropical feel they are looking for.

For the bedding and linens, supply the best you can. Cheap, scratchy, or synthetic fiber sheets will not encourage good reviews. Plump pillows and fresh, crisp cotton bed linens will. A comfortable mattress is a must and remember to rotate it for longer life. Thick and thirsty towels are also important, but remember to give them pool and beach towels too.

  1. Offer modern amenities.

We’re internet dependent for work and pleasure. Offer your guests access to the internet and provide them with the login information. If there is no internet at the house let them know where they can go locally to check their emails and get online. If you have DSL or satellite for TV, let your guests know which channels you have.

  1. Keep a well stocked kitchen.

While renters often eat out, when they are on vacation, most will take full advantage of a well stocked kitchen and many meals will be prepared and enjoyed in your rental property. A good kitchen will be stocked with all the basics like pans, dishes and glassware, it should also have small appliances and food preparation items like peelers, cutting boards and sharp knives. If you are purchasing a furniture package for your rental, often that same company will have upgrade packs available to equip kitchens.

Salt, pepper, and sugar will be appreciated as well as plastic wrap and aluminum foil, and a cooler for the beach or day trips.

You should also keep some cleaning supplies and extra light bulbs on hand as well as a broom, mop and vacuum cleaner. Have a couple of flashlights available too—we know there will be unexpected power outages.

  1. Help them relax

Offer your guests plenty of storage space for their belongings and plenty of hangers in the closets. Don’t forget the night table lamps for bedtime reading. Bedding should look new and clean. Offer extra pillows and blankets for cooler nights and check the mattresses each season to see if they need replacing.

If you don’t have air conditioning make sure that every bedroom (and main living areas) each have fans and make sure that all lamps and fans are in good working order.

Your furniture package provider usually also has upgrade packs available for bed and bath linens, and that can be more convenient than bringing it all down yourself or searching locally.

Have some books, games and cards available for lazy days, and pool loungers to enjoy as well.

  1. Provide your guests with a detailed informational booklet or packet.

As well as local attractions, tours and maps, be sure to include information on:

  • Local hospitals, doctors and vets.
  • Pharmacies
  • Grocery stores and banks
  • Restaurants—including your favourite ones
  • Local shopping or ferias
  • Your Property Manager’s phone number in case of emergencies or problems
  • Information regarding garbage collection and recycling if available.
  • Information on operating the appliances (if they are Spanish)
  • Anything else you think your renters should know or might be interested in.
  1. Walk through your property regularly.

If you are not able to do so, enlist the help of your Property Manager. You should look for visible signs of damage and wear and tear. Accidents happen and our environment is tough on everything, but you want any leaks or repairs completed before the next set of guests move in. Gardens and pools need to look great—lawns and other garden plantings should be trimmed and tidy. Outside seating and dining areas should be clean and inviting. If your property comes with the use of a grill, make sure there are tools, and enough gas in the propane tank, and that is clean and working as it should.

This is not a exhaustive list but, it’s somewhere to start.

You may also want to ask your renters what they think you could do to make their stay even better. A comfortable and well maintained home will see return renters. In fact, the same renters will often return to the same house year after year. As a property owner, these are the renters you are looking for!


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