The short-term rental market has seen a surge in demand after the initial shock of the pandemic as travelers have sought out more private, controlled accommodations that are closer to a home-like environment.
Amid increased demand, how can short-term rental owners make sure their properties stand apart from the rest? Here’s what the experts have to say.
1. A well-equipped, picture-perfect kitchen
“Guests probably aren’t going to cook, but we have beautiful gas ranges in there for them if they want to,” Rebecca Ramsay, a short-term rental manager in Charleston, South Carolina, told Domino.
It’s worth noting though, that in the era of COVID-19 and limited restaurant operations available in most places, guests may actually be doing more cooking these days than Ramsay thinks. Therefore, investing in a kitchen that does more than the absolute bare minimum will be money well spent.
That’s why Ramsay doesn’t question installing a good dishwasher and stone countertops in her properties — because they ultimately pay off. For the same reason, potential guests will be attracted to kitchens with ample pots, pans, cooking utensils, a microwave, a good coffee maker, etc.
“Having a well-stocked kitchen is really what’s going to separate you apart from your competition,” Alanna Schroeder, founder of hospitality blog The Distinguished Guest, told Inman. “Things like meat thermometers, potato mashers … I have Wusthof knives in my vacation rental.”
2. Beautiful design
“I think the No. 1 thing you can do is have a really high-quality design,” Schroeder told Inman. “It doesn’t have to be exclusive. And then, you want really great pictures to showcase that.”
“What people forget in this business is … that things change seven years down the road, design changes, people’s interest in where they want to stay changes,” she added. “So a lot of owners just kind of leave their place the same way for years and years and years. In my mind, you need refreshes or rehabs in order to really maximize on your revenue.”
If a property owner doesn’t exactly have an artist’s eye, Schroeder said hiring a designer with experience specific to short-term rentals who knows what guests want and need can make a huge difference.
3. A bathroom steps from the bedroom
Nature calls at all hours, and that’s why having a bathroom just steps away from the bedroom is essential, Ramsay says.
“No one wants to spend a fair chunk of change renting a house and then having to walk down the hallway to use the bathroom in the middle of the night,” she told Domino.
That’s why the property investor tries to incorporate as many en suites into her renovations as possible, even prioritizing this feature over a laundry space.
4. Keyless entry
While the country awaits widespread vaccine distribution, guests will feel reassured if they don’t have to meet face to face with their host in order to pick up a key. Not only is it easier for guests to be able to check into the property at irregular hours if needed, but it’s more secure to create a unique code specific to the duration of your guest’s stay.
“Locks from the Yale Assure or NextTouch series and August and Schlage are recommended,” Michael Driedger, current CEO at Airsset Technologies and former CEO of Operto Guest Technologies wrote in an Inman post in November 2019.
“All of these systems, as Smart Stay tech, allow you to track who is coming and going in a property and also how many times the guest opens and closes the door,” he added. “Keyless entry for short-term rentals is all about transparency and security.”
5. Ample seating
If your property listing says it can accommodate a certain number of people, there had better be enough comfortable seating for at least that number of people, plus a few extra stragglers. Ramsay said this is what she aims for, but if for some reason that’s impossible because of space or other issues, she’ll make up for the imbalance with a lot of outdoor seating.
“Keep in mind that the place should be set up to accommodate the maximum number of guests who might stay at one time,” an Airbnb blog post with tips from Airbnb Plus hosts reads. “For example, set the scene for a great dining experience with enough furniture and place settings for everyone to share a meal.”
6. A large TV equipped with streaming services
It’s likely that out-of-town guests may spend a good portion of their day out and about, leaving them wanting some quiet time to relax in front of the TV at the end of the day. Therefore, a good-sized TV equipped with streaming services is a very manageable investment that will keep guests happy.
“We buy ones that are sometimes bigger than I’d like,” Ramsay admitted. Like it or not, for a short-term stay, it’s unlikely any of your guests will complain if the TV is bigger than their one at home.
7. A plush, roomy bed
One of the great luxuries of staying in a hotel is experiencing an oversized, plush bed with plenty of pillows. Recreate the experience in your short-term rental — or even amplify it — and guests will feel like royalty.
“You’ve got this big, cozy mattress; plush linens; beautiful pillows — something you want to dive into,” Ramsay said.
8. Thoughtful, zen-like touches
The last thing a guest at a short-term stay wants is to encounter chaos, or anything difficult to deal with. So, replace that lock that requires a bit of finagling, buy a reliable corkscrew and replace pillows every few years.
But also, add nice touches in places where they’ll be most welcome or helpful — make sure there’s lotion near every sink, use candles and a soft throw to warm up a room, and put hardy plants throughout the house that exude peacefulness.
“Travelers are looking for a place to stay that is well taken care of, where sheets are precisely tucked and towels are thoughtfully placed,” Schroeder wrote in a blog post on modern hospitality. “It’s those little details that instill confidence and let guests escape from cluttered ‘real life’ — if only for a few days.”
9. Quality extras
Sprinkling high-quality touches throughout a rental property is another factor that can really make it shine and bring in good reviews from guests.
“Rather than just considering bedding, you may also want to think about the thread count of your sheets,” Airbnb’s blog post reads. “If you provide coffee or tea, stock options that you enjoy or that are known to be crowd-pleasers. Also, many travelers will want milk, creamer, or other alternatives to go with it.”
It’s hard to go wrong with an assortment of quality local goodies and essentials, like coffee, chocolate, granola or other products local businesses specialize in.
10.The utmost cleanliness
Especially in a post-COVID world, property owners must be vigilant about cleanliness. But Schroeder says this is something she sees a lot people get flak for in reviews from guests.
“That is such a huge part of hospitality that so many vacation rentals are missing,” she said. “Everybody’s like, ‘Oh, do you leave out a gift basket?’ and I’m in Hawaii so we have bugs and stuff like that … so my response is always, ‘I’d rather put that extra $20 into my cleaning,’ because my guests, they’re just commenting on that all the time.”