The Top Five Renter Requests

shutterstock_173471486What Will Attract More Guests To Your Property?

With so many vacation rentals to choose from it is truly a “renter’s market.”  To tip the booking-scale in your favor, vacation home owners must either offer discounted rental rates or furnish a vacation home with all the “bells and whistles” that attract guests.  Keep in mind that discounted rates are not always best in the long run.  Owners who rely on discounted rates to draw rentals ultimately drive rates down in their specific vacation rental market.  Competing owners will try to meet or surpass a discounted rate and soon find that they are in a “race to the bottom.”   This rental rate war hurts all vacation property owners.   The best way to get more bookings and generate more income while improving your property value is by making improvements to your vacation home. Happy guests = good reviews = more bookings!  It’s that simple! 
Vacation Rentals of the Desert manages approximately 140 vacation properties.  The following are the top five renter requests.  No matter whether you manage your vacation property yourself or list it with a management company, nor does it matter where your property is located, with very few exceptions, you must offer all of the following five features if you hope to attract more guests.

 

1)      Location, Location, Location:  Most of your inquiries will come from guests looking specifically for your area.  You may be on a golf course or beach.  Your property may be in the middle of nowhere … a quiet hide-away.  Close to shopping, entertainment, special events … whatever the draw to your property you must make sure you highlight your location.  If your property boasts a “view” than you MUST have a “fantastic” patio.  When looking at your vacation home listing, a potential guest should be able to see themselves relaxing on your patio, enjoying the view with their morning coffee or evening glass of wine.  Plastic tables and chairs just won’t cut it if the property listing down the street has fabulous patio furnishings, BBQ and landscaping.  If your property is located close to an attraction or event be sure to promote the attraction with a picture or two and include information on how close the property is located to the venue, driving time or miles and mention any public transportation that may be accessible.  Don’t forget to mention how many steps you are from the pool or beach, the fairway or hole you overlook from your golf course patio, whether you get morning or evening sun or how far you are from the ski lifts, fishing pier or fitness center.

2)      Television:  If you do not have new high-definition flat screen TVs then you ARE losing bookings and don’t even know it.  These days there are almost no excuses.  When a prospective guest is looking at your listing keep in mind that they are also looking at other comparable properties.  If they see pictures of your dated TVs, it is a fact that they will most likely stop looking at your property.  The vast majority of potential guests viewing your home on the internet live in homes that are furnished with the newer TVs and electronics.  Your guests will want the same amenities that they have in their own home.  In addition, a dated TV subconsciously translates to a dated property and an owner that is either too cheap or does not care.  At Vacation Rentals of the Desert we are encouraging all of our owners to update their TVs.  The owners who have made this simple and inexpensive update have definitely increased their bookings.  How much income would you generate from one more booking?  Would it cover the costs of new TVs?  There are challenges however, such as homes with large entertainment units.  I fully understand this problem.  The newer TVs often do not fit in the space that your dated 36” TV sat in … or what does fit is unsuitably small.  Do yourself a favor and remove the old unit and purchase a cabinet to set your new 50” TV on.  A too small TV in the living room is “deal breaker” for most and you will probably defeat the entire purpose of replacing your dated TV.  My advice …. research.  Check on the internet or visit a store that specializes in TVs to research the ideal size you will need for your living room, bedrooms, etc.  Tip:  I have purchased 47” inch high definition flat screen TVs at Best Buy for less than $500 … 32” for less than $200.  This is a “no-brainer” … spend the money, do it right … not cheap … and you will generate more bookings!

3)      Wi-Fi:  No plug in Ethernet, and definitely no dial-up!  Unless your vacation home is geared towards “Out-Back-Roughing-With-No-TV-Internet-Phones” you must, must, must have Wi-Fi in your vacation home!  These days even great-grandma and grandpa have IPads, Kindles, Nooks and Smart Phones and these devises cannot be “plugged” into the internet.  For families and couples with individual laptops, plug-ins and Ethernet cords create an inconvenience.  This is huge … if you do not have Wi-Fi … you are definitely losing rentals!

4)      Updated décor:  Remember … your property is not the only vacation home your potential guest is looking at.  You want photos that advertise a clean, comfortable … and yes … pretty property!  If you have 1980s/1990s silk flowers … Why?  Throw them away and replace with updated decorator piece … hopefully something easier to keep clean than silk flowers.  I use Pier 1, Home Goods, The Alley, Bed, Bath & Beyond and even Target when purchasing inexpensive pieces to enhance a property’s decor.  You don’t need to break the bank.  If your bedspread is more than five years old … it’s probably worn, dated and needs to be replaced.  Take a hard look at all of your bedding, towels, living room pillows and throws.  Sometimes a simple replacement of these items can update your property in an amazing way.

5)      Comfortable Beds:  This is very subjective … I like a soft mattress, some like firm.  If your mattresses are over 10 years old it may be time to replace them, 15 years old … it’s definitely time!  Beds can turn a “perfect” vacation home into a “nightmare” … literally.  Once a guest posts a review that the beds are uncomfortable … you’re done!   If this happens you will need to replace beds immediately and note in your listing description that you “replaced all beds after receiving the bad review.”  Another tip … when replacing a bed, go with a traditional mattress with pillow top.  Avoid the “memory foam” styles … people either love ‘em or hate ‘em.  For those who hate ‘em … you will definitely lose their business.  On the other hand, a pillow top bed has never been a “deal breaker.”  Also … if at all possible you will want to furnished the master bedroom with a king bed.   Surprisingly this is a very big deal for many people.  The properties we manage that have queen beds in the master bedroom definitely have been less desirable.  If you have the space … chose the king!

shutterstock_155046932Throughout my 18 years in the vacation rental business I have seen many industry changes.  In recent years I have watched vacation rentals explode!  Thanks to the unprecedented media and internet exposure the popularity of vacation rentals have more than doubled in recent years.  There are record numbers of vacation properties and rental guests … and these numbers continue to grow.   With all the property choices available, it is definitely a “renters market.”  Good business sense dictates that you make your “product” better than your competitors.  It does not matter whether you manufacture toothpaste, own a restaurant or manage a vacation rental property … you must be better than your competition and in the vacation rental business to be successful … your grass must be greener than your next door neighbors!  

 

 

 

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