In our first year of vacation rental home ownership, it often felt like a scene out of The Money Pit - New floors? Check. New roof? Check. And just when we thought we were done- the oven went out! New oven? Sigh...Check.
After so many mandatory investments, it was hard to address some of the other items on our list that seemed more like luxuries than essential investments. However, we quickly found the following investments were just as important as the mandatory ones. After all, the guest assumes any rental home they're looking at has a working stove, a sound roof and decent flooring...among many other essentials (as they should!).
Unfortunately, these essential investments are often not going to get you noticed when someone is looking for a great place to stay. Which investments matter the most? The ones that will get you noticed online, among your competitors, will be the ones that matter the most.
As you head into your next rental season, continue to budget for the essential investments but be sure to consider the following as well as you're likely to see a much greater return on investment with these ones!
Relatively inexpensive and can do wonders to brighten the home and show that it is well-maintained. Go with lighter colors as they will make the rooms appear larger in the photos. For bonus points, paint outdated kitchen and bathroom cabinets a shade of white to bring new life to them (just be prepared for some touch-up work occasionally!).
2. Bedding and Seating.
Your potential guest is scanning your beds and couches closely and comparing them to other listings. Make sure you pass the scan test! Update your bedding with something that is bright, comfortable and modern. The bed will be the focal point in the listing pictures so go ahead and throw in the decorative pillows and maybe even a throw for the end of the bed to really make the rooms stand out!
Old, dingy couches can sometimes be a deal-breaker when a guest is comparing multiple properties. Yes, they can be a more expensive investment but well worth it if it helps seal the deal. The guest is likely going to spend some time here relaxing and they want to see something that looks comfortable, clean and new.
Love it or hate it, guests DO still want to be connected while they are vacation. Be sure you make the investment in offering your guests (free) WiFi for your guests and you'll be more likely to appeal to millennials, those on business, families traveling with young children (speaking from experience: kids YouTube = a parent's travel essential!)...and pretty much almost everyone else. Let's face it, we're all kind of addicted.
4. Professional photography.
This may be one of the most important investments on the list. Nothing will help your listing stand out more than enlisting some help from a professional real estate photographer. There are so many great vacation home listings out there that are unfortunately left in the dust with the swipe of a thumb because they're using dark, fuzzy, low resolution photos that do nothing to 'sell' the home to the potential guest.
Great photos will help your listing *pop* off the page and stop that thumb from swiping past you in a matter of seconds. So, be sure to make some of the other investments listed here first if needed (paint, bedding, seating) and then hire a professional photographer to give your rental an amazing chance to stand out among the crowd.
5. Marketing Consultant.
Whether you're listing a vacation home for the first time or have been in the vacation rental game for years, if your calendar is not as full as your competitors or you're not fully booked throughout the year, you may want to consider investing in a vacation rental marketing consultant. Through this service, you can work with someone to understand how to overcome the rental challenges you are experiencing and begin seeing an increase in rental inquiries and bookings. Unlike a new roof or a new floor, there's a true return on investment with this one and the quicker you begin working with a vacation rental consultant, the quicker you will see more rental income!
Did you even know this was a thing?! Well lucky you, it is...and now it may be your new best kept secret. If you are interested in working with someone to optimize your listing and increase your rental bookings, you can head here to learn more about Fully Booked vacation rental home marketing services.
After our first year of making the essential investments, we were able to tackle this list in the second year and I can honestly say... it was actually pretty fun. I know, usually spending money isn't a ton of fun, but it was with this stage because with each of these investments, I could see the increase in inquiry activity pretty quickly which ultimately led to more bookings...which meant each investment was easily paying for itself. Score!
Good luck and happy investing!