Smart Strategies for Your Vacation Rental Business

Between maintenance, taxes, and ongoing home insurance expenses, having a vacant summer home or an unattended family property can be emotionally and financially draining! If you are a property owner struggling with the cost of maintaining real estate that doesn’t serve you as a home or source of income, consider turning it into a short-term vacation rental property on Airbnb, VRBO, or other similar platforms.

Learn more about turning your empty room or idle condo into a stream of relatively passive income with these tips covering the ins and outs of the vacation rental business.

Tips for Starting a Vacation Rental on Sites Like Airbnb

Contrary to popular belief, listing your home or spare bedroom on a vacation rental site involves a little more homework than simply uploading it to your platform of choice. Depending on where you are, there can be quite a bit of red tape. Here are a few things to look into before getting started.

1. Consider local rules and regulations.

Though managing a short-term rental seems more straightforward than being a full-time landlord, depending on the location of your property, you may have similar responsibilities towards your guests or tenants.

Contact city authorities and HOA boards to ascertain any limitations or requirements for short-term rentals in your community. Additionally, check out Airbnb’s “Responsible Hosting” site to browse additional recommendations by region.

As you dive into this process, you may encounter short-term rental-specific insurance, tax, and licensing costs that you hadn’t anticipated. Make sure you keep a spreadsheet with these fees to consider them as you decide how to price your listing.

2. Look into platform-specific requirements.

Platforms like Airbnb and VRBO hold their hosts to very high standards, requiring them to go the extra mile to ensure guest safety and compliance with company policies. For instance, Airbnb listings are “non-smoking” by default, meaning guests may only smoke with explicit authorization from the hosts.

Though more rigid standards typically favor guests, they may tack onto hosts’ expenses, potentially rendering your vacation rental property unprofitable. On the flip side, other, more niche platforms tend to have more relaxed standards, making it easier and less expensive for property owners to comply.

Start with a bit of research and determine each vacation rental site’s requirements for hosts to decide if you’re willing and able to meet them or if you should list your property on a different platform.

Tips for Getting Bookings for Your Vacation Rental Property

Once you’ve done your homework and gotten all the paperwork sorted to operate a vacation rental property in compliance with local and platform-specific rules, it’s time to list it! This is where attention to detail and a knack for DIY marketing will serve you well.

1. Define your listing’s “niche.”

Are you renting out a spare bedroom in your condo for the occasional business traveler? Or, are you turning your family’s multi-bedroom beach home into the ultimate destination for a bachelorette weekend? Depending on the nature and location of your property, define the “type” of vacation rental it’s going to be. Consider who the target audience is and what their primary motivation for traveling to your location may be. Use this to help inform your decision-making for all aspects of your listing.

2. Stage your vacation rental property for success.

Turning an unused room or home into an Airbnb or similar listing is big business, and as such, there is considerable competition! However, if you’re in a particularly saturated market, having a beautifully furnished and decorated listing can give you an edge on the competition.

Now that you have a “niche” for your listing, furnish and equip it accordingly. For instance, if you are renting a business traveler-focused studio, include sophisticated and functional essentials such as mid-century modern furniture and high-quality appliances! On the other hand, if your listing is a family-friendly modern farmhouse, choose rustic accents and fully equip the kitchen.

Regardless of the interior design style you decide on, focus on getting high-quality, comfortable pieces instead of cheap-looking fast furniture. Pair furnishings with modern electronics and appliances (if relevant) and match decorative accents, such as wall art and faux plants. Lastly, invest in high-quality bedding and bath linens to give your guests a hotel-like experience.

3. Take jaw-dropping photos of your vacation rental room or home.

Don’t let the effort you put into outfitting your vacation rental go to waste with bad photography! Ensure that the photos you post on the listing do it justice by taking pro-grade real estate photos with these tips from Lodgify, including how to find the best lighting and which angles favor which spaces best.

Tips for Making Your Vacation Rental Listing Stand Out

Now that your house is ready to go on the short-term vacation rental market, it’s time to make your listing shine! Here are a few tips to help you stand out from the crowd.

1. Set a competitive price and fees.

Pricing your short-term rental is both an art and a science — you want to price it low enough that your target audience won’t get sticker shock, but high enough to make a profit. Take a look at similar listings in your area to get an idea of the average price per night. Then, calculate additional fees such as local short-term rental taxes and cleaning fees.

Lastly, consider the cost of setting up and maintaining your property, as well as the service fees you’ll have to pay your listing platform to help fine-tune the price per night, and set a minimum stay length to ensure you make above a certain amount per booking.

2. Set house rules for your property.

Letting a “stranger” stay in your home — whether you’re there or not — can be an intimidating prospect. However, setting house rules and displaying them prominently on your listing can help weed out individuals and groups who may engage in undesirable behaviors.

Rental Recon features a handy template that beginner vacation rental hosts can use to design their property’s rules. A few essential points to consider include: whether or not smoking is allowed, designated check-in and check-out times, the number of guests permitted on-site, and setting limits on social events and loud noises.

House rules are a great way to keep guests accountable for their actions on your property. Thoughtfully writing them down will help guarantee that your rental listing platform of choice backs you up on any issues surrounding guest misconduct.

3. Curate a beautiful listing page.

Now that you have beautiful photography, thoughtful house rules, and competitive pricing, you can combine all these elements to create a listing page that sells (or, in this case, books!). Give guests a clear, appealing picture of what a stay at your space looks like by including doing the following:

  • Write a thorough description of the property, including call-outs of any interesting architectural or decorative elements.
  • Include a list of local attractions and must-have conveniences (e.g., pharmacy, urgent care, grocery store, etc.) near the property.
  • Highlight on-site amenities like parking, hot tubs, hiking trails, views, fireplaces, high-speed WiFi, and more.
  • Post a friendly message including details about the host (you). Share your interests, availability, and any fun tidbits or anecdotes of your time on the property.
  • Fill out any other relevant fields such as those associated with sleeping and bathroom arrangements, washer/dryer availability, kitchen and dining information, etc.

Furnish Your Rental Property

Creating a profitable vacation rental business is an amazing source of passive income that involves active planning and managing at the start. Take one thing off your plate by furnishing your vacation rental room or home affordably with CORT Furniture Outlet. Our wide variety of whole-home furniture packages include 18 pieces of quality, stylish furniture starting at $1,499.99, so you can outfit your property with everything it needs in one simple shopping trip!

Visit us online or at your nearest furniture outlet to browse previously-rented high-quality furniture and decor that fits your budget!