vacation rental amenities

Vacation rental amenities that will make guests fall in love with any host

As a vacation rental manager/owner, how do you expect people to find your signal in all the noise?

Amenities like free WiFi, Netflix subscription, or a hot tub can add a kick to your vacation home, and that’s what you need to hook the guest. In a previous article, we wrote that in order to get consistent bookings for your vacation rental, it is important that you add sufficient amenities for guests. Here’s a list of amenities that can help you stay organized while providing a superior guest experience.

A small, regional gift for breakfast

Guests notice even the tiniest of details. You’d fare better than the competing hosts if you add a local delicacy to the breakfast (even if the breakfast is not on you, they’d love your caring gesture). If you’re from Orlando, you can’t go wrong by placing great local honey, homemade pasta, baked goods, or an Amish deli from Clemons Produce. Irrespective of your city, just hit your local Whole Foods Market and grab something. You may get it wrapped or put the produce in a cane basket, guests will be pleased by the personal touch you give to the item you want to add as an amenity.

Local craft brews

Your beer-snob guests will love a local variety that you’ve purchased with care and placed it in their room. Anything made by Ommegang or a good, solid, superbly crafted IPA (India pale ale) by Bear Republic Brewing Company won’t break your bank.

Flowers from your garden

If you have a well-kept garden, make a bouquet of flowers and place it in the vase next to the bed or the reading table. Nothing pleases a tired soul more than the freshness of scented flowers.

A handy guide book about your city

Large cities can overwhelm even the most adventurous visitor. This is where a printed city guide book will help them navigate the ins and outs of your city. The book will serve as an opinionated guide for the curious traveler and make the visitor’s stay outstanding. Don’t forget to wrap it with a card on top mentioning that it is a gift by you (and they need not return it).

Local organic snack bars

Imagine your guests finding a Blueberry grunt or a Choco berry bliss lying on top of their bedside drawer. They’d be pleased and think of you as a sensitive and caring person. And who knows they have kids who will have a good time with a couple of bars. If you have a Miami vacation rental listing, you’d find it easy to buy U RAWk Energy bars, a specialty of Miami.

Golf cart (yes, even if you don’t have a golf-course)

Place a golf cart because nobody will have to walk to the ocean. (Only if you happen to have your vacation rental property near a beach, just as one of our hosts has her vacation rental listing in the Long Beach area, 17 blocks away- with a guarded bay beach).  Having a golf cart for your guests will make it a breeze getting the kids back and forth from the beach.

Beach kit

Get some chairs, umbrella, sarong, paddle ball, ice chest, cards, children’s toys and football and place it near your guest room. Label it as “Beach kit” and let your guests’ imagination run wild.

Mosquito kit

A repellent, citronella candles, repellents and insecticides makes a good mosquito kit (only if your short-term rental space is near a rain forest, or you have listed a tree-house on CuddlyNest.) If you live away from the ‘mosquito’ zone, don’t place such a kit as it may freak out the guests 🙂

You can also place a floating/swinging bed if your vacation home is adventurous in nature,

Perishable food items

You can hardly go wrong with milk or fruits, unless your guest is lactose intolerant in which case milk is not a good idea.

Unique amenities

You can start a book exchange with your guests (make it unconditional, like your guests need not necessarily give back a book). This will help them remember you beyond their stay at your vacation home.

Or just leave a card with a personalized message, like where to look for help in case you are not around.

Coffee Machine & more

Make a coffee machine available to them—even a little welcome that includes chocolates, candies and cookies is much appreciated.

The ideas discussed in this article are just a starter, you can think of many scenarios that you can build to help the guests have a personalized touch to their vacation at your home. Small gestures go a long way in building trust and repeat business.

How to become a better vacation rental host in 2017?

Becoming better at managing your vacation rental business isn’t always a walk in the park. However, becoming better as a vacation rental host can help you to fund your ambitions; such as giving a makeover to your home, getting your children to a better college, or simply retiring with the comfort and security of a second income.

With the turn of the calendar, it’s the perfect occasion for vacation rental owners and managers to think about doing things differently starting on Jan. 1. A recent survey by Fidelity shows that simply making a plan to improve in the coming year can be an important part of your overall financial health. Vacation home owners have other challenges as well, such as getting guest reviews on their listing, keeping their property booked throughout the year and achieving a position where the listing sells itself rather than the owner/manager having to do it all the times.

1. Become goal oriented

Jeff Walker writes that “Don’t underestimate the power of having an effective planning process“. It’s super important to have an effective goal-setting process in place. And, we’ve noticed that a lot of hosts who have excelled at their vacation rental business have done so by achieving incremental goals. They strived to become better hosts, kept their properties neat, clean and impressive, and they’ve remained consistent in providing a good service to guests. They’ve then used the cash earned from their vacation homes for their own vacations across some part of the world, bought a better car, or made an investment in an insurance plan that they otherwise could not have afforded.

Some sample goals for you can be:

  • Increasing the number of reviews on my listing
  • Change the interior or give a makeover to bedroom/balcony
  • Increase the listing rate by improving services (include dinner/supper in listing offer)

2. Improve the guest experience

When it comes to vacations, nothing will beat a good vacation experience. This is why you can re-evaluate the whole approach you have towards guests. Put yourself in their shoes and think of any improvement that you can make to improve the guest experience starting from the key exchange all the way up to guests’ departure. Read online reviews and comments of hosts who have excelled by providing better service. Better yet, get the basics of your vacation home right and you will see your vacation home bookings skyrocket.

Here’s a list of resources you can read and implement in 2017

3. Make connections (offline & online)

Establish relationships with other local hosts. This will help you to understand the vacation rental space even better. It will also help you to forge relationships with people who face similar concerns or opportunities in 2017. When you exchange notes with them, you’ll realize that a lot of issues that you face as a host are not uncommon. There must be another host who has faced a similar problem in the past and has resolved it. The value of this network will outweigh the cost (which is usually in the form of time that you’ll have to invest in building relationships).

  • Arrange a get together where you host a tea-party for other hosts. This will serve as an ice-breaker between you and people who face challenges/opportunities similar to you.
  • Make a Facebook group of local hosts and share views, opinions, resources, and advice. Remember, there’s immense power in social networks that you can tap to grow as a business person. You may start by participating in the existing Facebook groups such as Vacation Rental by Owners or Vacation Homes by Owners only. Start a LinkedIn group where you can share ideas, build relationships and collectively grow as a vacation rental owner (see this LinkedIn group called Vacation Rental Professionals – The Vacation Rentals Group).
  • Make a list of quarterly/monthly themes on which you want to interact with the hosts/services providers and association members. Put it in Google calendar and send an invite to others hosts, service providers, and vendors. Holding such events will give you greater insights and confidence to operate in this space, and with more profitability.

In the end, do not forget that it is not the big ticket item you’ll do in 2017 that will make a difference. The major improvement can be brought about by carefully taking smaller yet consistent steps, and investing in your future by listing your property on a good vacation rental platform, and by carefully working towards your goals.

The consistent stream of income that you’ll generate through your vacation home, and the benefits thereof, will far outweigh the concerns you’ve had in 2016. All it requires is an honest attempt to improve the affairs and getting better at managing your things.

Vacation rental guest review

A Homeshare Owners Guide to Getting More Guest Reviews

What’s the number one reason a person decides to book a homeshare listing? Is it because it looks amazing with new paint and freshly cleaned carpet? Or is it because CuddlyNest has made it simpler than ever to book a homeshare listing? Sadly we can’t take all the credit – no, people do things because someone else has suggested them to.

Online reviews have changed how people shop, eat and travel. Sites like Yelp and Goodreads dictate where people should eat and what they should read. Amazon reviews help people decide between different brands of socks and pots and pans. Why should the homeshare property business be any different?

When guests leave reviews, the home share property in question becomes more likely to be used by others. Reviews let others know that this property was worth staying at – or not worth staying at, if you’re unlucky. The problem is this: how do you get these guests to actually leave reviews?

Good and Bad News

While it’s true that we live in a very opinionated world, most people don’t share what they have to say through official channels unless they’re very, very satisfied or even slightly displeased. Sometimes no review can be good news in that it at least means a guest didn’t have a horrible experience.

But sometimes even an average review can help sway someone’s vote one way or the other. For instance, think about two almost identical vacation rentals. One has one review that lists it as an alright home share property. The house was clean but it wasn’t as big as they imagined. The other has no reviews listed. Which do you think will be chosen?

The other bad news is that it can be rare for guests to leave reviews – unless they’re prompted to. Usually if prodded, a guest will at least give a review out of obligation. You want to go above and beyond to the point where they want to tell you how incredible your property is, but sometimes the reality isn’t so sparkling. To get a review at all is a step in the right direction.

Keep service level high

First, revisit the above paragraph. While it’s good to get an obligatory five-star rating just because a guest wants to get an email out of their inbox, that’s not ideal. The best way to get ratings is to not take mediocrity for an answer – go above and beyond. When the service is stellar, a guest is more likely to leave a great review.

Reach out

Second, never forget to ask for a review. You’re going to be corresponding with the person who has booked your vacation beach house or holiday rental. Go ahead and ask them for a review and you’ll be amazed at how often they oblige you.

Make a feedback page

Use your website/Facebook page to make a dedicated feedback page where you direct your guests for posting reviews. This not only will formalize the process but also streamline it for your guests. You will get distracted and it will make the process seamless.

Give business cards

You also don’t have to leave things in a conversation or email chain. If you want to go above and beyond, leave business cards around the property in easily accessible locations. These can double as easy contact go-to’s, but including a small “Please Review Your Stay” prompt on these cards can boost your reviews.

Use videos

VRMB writes that “Video allows you to convey a sincerity that’s just not possible with text.” Shooting a video has become so easy. Grab your smartphone or a webcam and try rehearsing 2-3 minute conversation with your guests when they are staying at your vacation place.

Get reviews on your listing page

Finally, make sure to always direct reviewers to CuddlyNest. Why? It’s great that a guest wants to tell you over the phone that they had a wonderful time, but this doesn’t help your business – other potential guests can see your verbal communication. Thank them for their kind words, but then direct them to your vacation rental listing website like CuddlyNest where they can leave a written review.

6 essentials that can immediately boost your vacation rental bookings

There are only a few essentials you need to nail perfectly to attract the potential guests. Here’s how to get them right.

Easy to understand but difficult to implement, the essentials need time and attention. We describe the ways you can be 100% sure that your listing is better than your competitors.

1. Headline

On average, five times as many people read the headline as read the body copy. When you have written your headline, you have spent eighty cents out of your dollar —David Ogilvy

This tells us how important the headline is in an ad. Your property listing serves as an ad for your vacation rental property. Rather than treating the “headline” as a cherry-on-top, treat it like a Sundae. Avoid boring or subjective words. For instance, many people write “large” without understanding that how large is large enough for the guests. Therefore, when writing a headline for your property, stick to the ‘rule of three’:

  • Numbers
  • Interesting adjectives (free, fun, incredible, essential)
  • Unique rationale (principles, reasons, facts, secrets)

Another way to think of the headline is to add your property’s value proposition in it. Think of the unique value that guests will obtain if they book your property.

CottageBolgger listed five great examples of the type of headlines you should write for your vacation rental property.

Vacation home headline

2. Thumbnail Photo

They say a picture’s worth a thousand words, but with me, it always ends up being well over a hundred thousand.” Luke Tylor

A good thumbnail photo can do the wonders to attract more guests. We can give you tons of advice on how best to capture a photo of your room (let’s keep it for later). Better yet, hire a professional photographer and let him do the job. A good freelance photographer will charge around $600-$700. Remember, “vValue is more expensive than the price”.

Let’s move to the advice part.

Take pictures horizontally rather than vertically. There’s only little depth that you can add taking pictures vertically. And, then there’s lighting that can make or break a photo. Try using natural soft light when taking a picture of your room/lodge.

3. Full description

Use the description section of your listing to paint a clear picture of your home and all the extras it offers. Add specific details that you think can help sell your listing to potential guests. Add nearby tourist attractions, the size of the room (in terms of how many people it can accommodate), and what amenities can you offer to the guests.

4. Photos

In addition to the thumbnail photo, add 3-5 photos of your property, this will help portray a clear image in the guest’s mind as to what they should expect in terms of look and feel when they book your property.

Tips on taking vacation home photos

5. Amenities

You can add the name/description of the amenities that you offer in your vacation property. This can become the sole reason of a guest booking your property rather than that of a competing host. Think of the ways that you can improve the guest experience; you can offer:

  • Free WiFi
  • Free Netflix Subscription
  • Fireplace
  • Hot tub
  • Outdoor space

6. Guest reviews

When it comes to building your VR reputation, guests know that reviews come direct from the horse’s mouth”, observes Lodgify, a software for vacation rental owners.

Guests are more likely to choose a vacation home that several past guests reviewed favorably. And, this is the hardest part of your hustle as a vacation home owner/manager. And, probably the easiest part to forget when you are darn busy. You’ve to keep in mind from the start that guest reviews will work as an advertisement for your property, the more positive your guest reviews are; the better you’ll attract guests.

Make it a habit of reaching out to guests after their stay and ask them how you may improve your service. After they’ve given you the advice, politely request for a review. Most guests will be happy to oblige after that you’ve connected with them on a more human level. We’ve also written on ways to increase your reputation among guests which can help you get better clients.

5 things that determine if guests will book your vacation home & how to get them right?

Most travelers start their search for vacation homes based on five main criterions i.e. location, price, the size of your vacation property, local area events, and preferred dates. We describe how vacation rental owners and managers can maximize their bookings by taking the correct approach to each of the criteria that their guests use for searching vacation properties.

1. Location

Travelers usually want to visit tourist attractions. Referencing these tourist attractions and amenities in your listing helps the guests to book your property.

For this, you’ll have to think of your vacation rental listing as a “rental ad”. The listing websites have a separate field where you list your property’s city & state. You can go a step ahead by adding city/state name in the headline just as the two hosts below (from Manhattan & Dubai downtown respectively) have added a specific location and a tourist attraction in the headline of their listing. It makes the property more relatable to the guests.

Instead of writing “near Fort Lauderdale” (or any tourist attraction near your home), list the exact distance from the home itself to the specific attraction.

Another tactic to attract more guests is to build your Google My Business page. Setting up a Google My Business account makes it easy for users to find your property in Google Search, Google Maps, and Google+. You can connect your page with your listing on a vacation rental website and get the double advantage (of showing up in the search engine and on a dedicated listing website).

2. Price

“Value is more expensive than price”.

Even if the price of your listing is higher than other properties in the area, there’s always a way to make it look like a total steal to the guests. Only that you’ll have to whip-up some creativity & imagination to better describe your property.

Create a visual perception of luxury. The more quality photos you have, the more interested viewers become, the more likely they’ll inquire via email or phone. Remove clutter from the room before you take photos. Add warm, welcoming touches like a bowl of fruit or a vase of flowers in the bedroom.

You can also compare the price of your listing with a tangible thing. Million Moms Challenge was a non-profit initiative of United Nations Foundation which positioned donations to their cause through the following tagline.

Be sure to compare the price of your listing with something that guests consider as small or irritating. For instance, you can write something like this “Avoid long commutes. 7-minute walk from downtown; decreases anxiety, increases happiness.” Guests know the anxiety that long commutes create, especially when they’ve to get to a business meeting in the morning.

3. Size of the property

Often, hosts just list down the number of people who can sleep in the bedroom or the living area.

A better way is to show & describe the bed setup, available seating in the sitting area, any common area they can use, the number of people who can sleep, and any extra mattresses they can get.

Think like hotel managers to maximize your earnings & retain group sizes bigger than the property can accommodate. We’ve added several relevant fields in Cuddlynest’s property listing form so that guests can visualize a picture of your property.

Correctly describing your property also reduces the chance of guests complaining about inaccurate listing details.

 

4. Local events

Think of the local events as a trigger for the guests to book your property rather than someone else’s. Highlight the events like trade shows, local festivals, technology conferences, and nearby hotels in the property description to increase bookings.

You can use event-inspired promotions and extras to attract bookings. For instance, use Microsoft Tech. Summit, Chicago or Tech. Conference 2017 as keywords in your property listing. List the way you can help guests attend these events (in case your property is in these areas, else, list the events taking place in your local area). It will also help you to build a good reputation with your vacation rental guests.

5. Preferred dates

Work/school dates and the seasons are a major source of tour planning. Use these to your advantage. You can highlight the activities and festivals that take place in your area during summer/winter/autumn. This will help guests visualize the leisure time they can spend if they book your property. Some of the guests are with their kids and planning activities with kids can be a hassle if you don’t know the area. This is where your “preferred dates” section will help them instantly book your property.

Now it’s your turn to get creative and do the magic. Often, it is getting the simple things right.