Whether you’ve got an air mattress up for grabs during festival season or an entire house just waiting to become a dedicated full time vacation rental, leasing out your space on a site like Airbnb or VRBO can be a great way to earn money and meet interesting people…..however it can also seem a bit daunting!
HERE are some insider tips to setting up your listing so you can hit the ground running!
Why should you listen to us?? Over the past year as a company we’ve completed over 2000 turnovers in between Short-Term Rental reservations and served over 150 hosts, we’ve seen it all, what works, what stinks, what’s cool, what’s crass. There are tip from the frontline trenches!
Step 1: Check for requirements in your state, city, neighborhood & building
Before you even start thinking about finding your first guests it is important to know about any restrictions or regulations on short term rental properties in your area. To rent out your space in Austin, TX for example, would be hosts are required to apply for and receive an operating license before opening up shop. Failure to do so can result in a bureaucratic nightmare and thousands of dollars in fines. It is also important to check the guidelines of your community, neighborhood, or building to avoid trouble down the line.
Step 2: Secure your personal belongings
A few online rental horror stories have made it into mainstream media, but as short term rental professionals we’ve been the first on the scene for thousands of check outs and haven’t seen anything more severe than muddied floors, a broken dish here and there, and, most disturbingly an odd number of false eyelashes stuck to random surfaces around a house. To keep you and your property safe, read up on the policies and guidelines of any site you’re thinking of listing through so you understand what sort of screening process has been conducted for you and what sort of things you should be on the lookout for yourself. In the end, though, the vast majority of would be renters go out of their way to be respectful of host lodgings and furnishings. That being the case, it is still important to be thoughtful about what items are left in a guest space.
Some services offer insurance for your items but nobody can replace your great grandmother’s favorite crystal vase or your one of a kind commemorative tiny spoon collection, if you’re into that kind of thing. A good thing to keep in mind is that if something is left in the house, someone will eventually use it for something, so be sure to keep a good inventory and don’t store sensitive documents and irreplaceable items in any guest spaces. Put a padlock or deadbolt on a closet and store anything valuable or sentimental locked away.
Step 3: Think through the details
Take some time to sit down and imagine a full guest stay, from first contact to final checkout, and make a list of any systems you need to put into place. Some essentials include:
- a welcome packet with house rules and specifics,
- set check in/check out times,
- a plan for prepping the space for quick turnaround in the event of back to back bookings.
- draw up a list of amenities you’ll provide to guests- toilet paper, paper towels, hand soap, dish soap, shampoo, coffee, etc.
- how will you handle the laundry? Will you hire out or do it yourself, will you keep spare sheet sets?
- what sort of special touches will you include- a list of recommended activities and businesses in your city? A gift basket, bottle of wine or gift card?
- decide how you will handle key handoffs- will you have a lockbox or electronic keypad? Can you leave items with the concierge in your building? Or consider a key handoff/exchange service if you’ll be unavailable during check in.
Depending on a few factors, including your proximity to your rental property, flexibility of schedule and volume of turnovers, it may well be in your best interest, or at any rate more convenient, to hire a cleaning service to help in the turnover process.
Step 4: List your space
Do some research on different short term rental sites, pick your desired platform(s) and get your property out there! When listing your space the process itself is the easy part, just fill out a couple of simple web forms- how many beds/baths, how many people you can accommodate per stay, pet preference, etc.- and the site builds a page around your answers. The real work comes in finding creative ways to make your listing stand out and showcase the unique personality of the space.
Choose a fun and intriguing headline that would be hard to scroll past without stopping to check it out. Make sure the staging and pictures you provide are high quality (Airbnb offers free professional photography) and accurately represent the space so there are no surprises for guests. Find listings for similarly sized and located spaces and decide on a fair price. Write the description in such a way that creates a story in the potential guest’s mind so they can’t help but see themselves there.
Step 5: Communicate
Now that you’ve put in the groundwork and thought of everything, it’s time to venture into the high seas of short term vacation rental management. If you’ve done your research and actively screen your guests, the only thing left to do is be prepared. Once your guests have booked, even before they arrive, it’s important to be available and attentive. Keeping in close communication will enable you to prepare for any special requests or circumstances and ultimately contribute to greater peace of mind for both you and your guests. These online rental communities can be very reputation based; almost as important to the success of your enterprise as the actual money coming in, the currency of positive reviews can be invaluable in growing your business. By remaining flexible, putting in the work ahead of time and following through with care and consideration during and even after your guests’ stay, you’ll be setting yourself up for smooth sailing.