We’ve been fielding many questions on how best to start using a home as a vacation rental. Given the current environment, that is understandable.

I’m beginning to see the market pick up as people are ready to move forward with life, so It’s good you are trying to get ahead in planning for this and listing your home. Your timing is excellent. I was personally shocked at how easy it can be to reach people and attain good client flow because people love to travel. More good news! It is entirely possible to succeed at this even in the current market. Let’s focus on existing homes since those seem to be the majority of inquiries.

Having a Balanced Business Mindset

Speaking of success, let’s position yourself to succeed on a personal level with the right mindset. It may be your dream home, but you have got to look at it in a slightly different light. You are now a vacation travel host, but you are also a manager and the CEO of your company. You are responsible for your customer’s satisfaction, and your brand. Your home is now a cash producing asset so make that mental shift from vacation home owner to business owner and decisions will become easier. At the same time, balance this with care and compassion. You are welcoming a friend, someone probably not that much different from yourself, and someone you will likely call a friend over years of repeat business. So don’t release all emotional attachment to your home, just separate it enough to be able to look at it from the perspective of a business. Make frugal and durable purchase decisions of furniture, decorations and art with that in mind. Things will get broken, tarnished and misplaced. Get over it by realizing ahead of time that it’s going to happen. So learn the business mindset of welcoming guests into your business.

Your Brand

You are now responsible not only for your company, but for the dreams and expectations of your clients , most of whom have worked very hard at crafting a great vacation for themselves, family and friends. So, think about your identity as a business owner and strive to meet and exceed those expectations at every level from the initial contact on email or a phone call to the end of the trip when they are already planning to return to your home. The best feeling for me is when clients tell me that they have begun to feel like the place is theirs, and they want to establish a family tradition of returning over the years and they are ready to book for next year. Then you know you’ve achieved true client satisfaction.

First Impressions

You only get one chance to give arriving clients what they need. Anticipate by placing yourself in their shoes and use your own experience. I am a professional traveler. When I arrive at one of my rental homes, I expect:

  • The home to be clean, neat and in good repair
  • The entry to be well lit for easy access for guests arriving after dark
  • The entry especially should be clean, freshly painted with a new doormat
  • A keyless entry
  • A well-stocked fridge including water, ice, healthy snacks
  • Clean extra linens
  • Soaps, shampoos, and light cleaning supplies

I will regularly put myself in the position of a client walking up to the property entry for the first time to ensure that everything I see and touch is up to the quality standards I’d expect as a client.
Your guests are arriving after a journey of some distance, it might have taken thirty minutes or three days, but a home that is inviting, warm and stocked with essentials will make a great (and lasting) first impression with your guests. So, focus on making the arrival easy. I like to use a pre-arrival information sheet that I send the client after booking. It should be complete, discussing the property location and specific arrival procedures.
So start the process by asking yourself, how good is your first impression?