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Vacation Rental Hospitality: What to Provide?

This past summer, my family along with my husband’s family (11 people total) stayed at a fantastic vacation home in Branson, MO. It had all the furniture and appliances you could need for 5 children and 6 adults including new beautiful furniture, comfortable bedding, a patio, kitchen essentials, keyless entry, wifi, etc. From a vacation owner perspective, I could certainly appreciate the amount of effort that was put into making this a great and comfortable vacation home for large families.

However, after spending a little longer in the home, there were some glaring misses that led to some frustration on day one. We quickly realized that 1 toilet paper roll per bathroom was simply not going to cut it for 11 people. And after a quick tour of the place, we also realized we were going to need hand soap, shampoo and conditioner, extra trash bags, etc. When my in-laws called the property manager to ask if this could be provided, the answer was ‘we’re not a hotel, so we do not provide those items’.

For my in-laws (who usually stay in hotels and bed & breakfasts), it was a small source of frustration that they seemingly had to make this trade-off for convenience to stay in a vacation home vs. a hotel.

As a vacation home owner, I think we have so much opportunity to surprise and delight our guests, especially those that are used to staying at a hotel. In most cases, we offer more space at a lower price than a hotel with many comforts from home and the ability to make a home-cooked meal.

So... why not go above & beyond and provide those little extras to ensure all your guests have all the essentials without the need to make an extra trip to the convenience store? If a few extra dollars are spent on toilet paper, soap and trash bags means that the difference between a 4 star review and a 5 star review, isn’t that worth it?

Below is a list of what amenities every vacation rental should strongly consider providing:

  • Bathroom essentials: travel size bottles of shampoo, conditioner and body wash, 2-3 rolls of toilet per bathroom, liquid hand soap, 1 box of tissue per bathroom

  • Kitchen essentials: liquid hand soap, dishwashing soap, dishwasher detergent, 3-4 kitchen trash bags, 1-3 rolls of paper towels

  • Laundry essentials: laundry detergent pods (if you have a washing machine/dryer)

And here are some ideas to go above & beyond and truly wow your guests (it is likely unrealistic to do all but choose 1-2 areas you really want to stand out in) and let us know in the comments what other ideas you have to add to this list!

  • Coffee bar: coffee filters, sugar, creamers, K cups, coffee

  • Beverages: waters, soda, juice boxes if kids are staying

  • Welcome basket: wine, snacks, chocolate, cookies (bonus points for homemade!)

  • Charcoal/lighter fluid or a propane tank

  • Bonfire kit: firewood & s'more fixing

  • Fun in the sun kit: sunscreen, beach towels, floaties

As vacation rental homeowners, we have such a unique advantage over hotels to customize the amenities specific to our location, season and we can even customize the amenities for each guest by learning about them prior to their stay. Remember to make sure to not only think about providing everything the guest would expect from a hotel but go above and beyond and give them every reason to think of you again the next time they’re ready to book a vacation.


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