Vacation Rental Owners

How to Start a Vacation Rental Property Business (First-day Guide)

A Guide to Preparing for Your Vacation Rental Property’s First Guest

You’ve purchased a vacation rental property and know all of the laws, rules, and regulations in the area. The house is furnished and ready to welcome guests… Or is it? Before your first guest stays at your vacation rental property, there are a few things you should do. Follow our guide, and you’ll be well-prepared to offer up a great guest experience from the get-go!

Deep clean the entire house

One of the most important things to do after purchasing a vacation rental property is to clean it thoroughly. You’ll need to scrub the floors, steam clean the carpets, and wash the walls. Be sure to clean under and behind major appliances like the refrigerator, stove, washing machine, and dryer. Clean the inside of the refrigerator, as well as the insides of any cabinets and drawers. Run a cleaning cycle on the oven and washing machine to rid them of any built-up gunk.

Pay special attention to the light fixtures and air vents since they’re prone to collecting dust that won’t go unnoticed by guests. An air purifier is a worthwhile investment that can clean the air and rid it of allergens, saving your guests from annoying allergy symptoms. You’ll also want to wash all of the window treatments and sanitize the mattresses and pillows.

Eliminate safety hazards

To eliminate any potential safety hazards, first take a look at your entrance. Is it easy to trip over? Is the walkway clear? You might want to consider a low doorway threshold and a ramp to make it more accessible for guests with disabilities to get in and out of the vacation rental.

Next, make sure all of the appliances are working correctly. Install smoke alarms and a carbon monoxide alarm inside the property as well. Guests will appreciate an easily accessible first aid kit. You’ll also need to provide fire extinguishers in easy-to-find locations.

Eliminate safety hazards

Other safety precautions include installing door and window locks, lighting the exterior of the property, and setting up security cameras. If you choose to install security cameras, be sure to let your guests know about them and explain which areas they cover. You should never have security cameras in areas of the rental where your guests would typically assume they have privacy.

Another step you should take is to make the property easily identifiable to emergency responders. You can do this by putting the house numbers in an easy-to-see location on the house and mailbox or the nearby curb.

Stay there yourself

If it’s possible for you to do so, consider staying at your vacation rental yourself for a week or two! Actually staying in the house, rather than just stopping by for renovations and cleaning, will help you learn much more about any issues like leaky faucets or flickering light bulbs. Plus, staying at your vacation rental lets you see the property from the guest’s perspective and troubleshoot any problems that could cause negative reviews.

Create an inventory

Before welcoming your first guest, it’s wise to create an inventory of everything in the house. In the case of any disputes or property damage, this inventory ensures you’re prepared. Once you start welcoming guests to your property, take photos of each room in between stays to document any wear and tear, damage, or missing items. This doesn’t mean that you expect your guests to steal or damage your property; it’s just a responsible move so that you’ll be prepared if an incident does occur.

Write a rental agreement

You’ll definitely need to write up a clear and detailed rental agreement or set of house rules before your first guest comes to stay. Your rental agreement should detail the required age of guests, how many guests can stay on the property, and whether pets are allowed. If your property is pet-friendly, you might need to include additional rules. You might want to require that the pet is on leash any time it’s outdoors, or that someone must stay with the pet at all times and not leave it alone at the property. You’ll also want to note whether guests can have friends over or throw parties, if there are certain “quiet hours” they need to respect, and any other rules you’d like guests to follow during their stay.

Decide on guest screening practices

Decide on guest screening practices

Based on the stipulations included in your rental agreement, you might want to implement various guest screening processes before accepting your first booking. The screening process could include an email or phone conversation with potential guests, or you could even use a third-party screening system to ensure guests are who they say they are based on their ID. You can also require guests to read and sign your rental agreement as part of the screening process. Or you might not want to screen guests at all and instead prefer to allow instant booking. The choice is up to you!

Create a welcome binder and basket

A welcome binder and welcome basket are two simple ways to make your guests’ experience great. The binder should contain all of the pertinent information your guests need and want to know. Meanwhile, the basket is more of a gift to wow your guests, although it doesn’t need to be expensive or over-the-top.

In the binder, include your welcome note, emergency contacts, and check-in and check-out instructions. You’ll also want to add your house rules, a manual with step-by-step guides to using your appliances, and all logins and passwords for the WiFi and streaming services. It’s also great to recommend nearby attractions, restaurants, bars, and nightlife so that your guests can plan out their days more easily.

Spruce up the space

The current trends for interior design in vacation rental properties include fresh, clean, airy, and open spaces. Minimalism is key when it comes to decor. This makes it pretty easy to spruce up your space: Add a fresh coat of neutral-toned paint to the walls, and choose some tasteful artwork with a cohesive theme.

When it comes to furnishing the space, comfort should be one of your main priorities. It’s always ideal to invest in durable, high-quality furniture, especially couches and mattresses, since they get the most wear.

Stock up on amenities

Amenities can make a significant impact on the overall guest experience. Walk through your vacation rental and consider which amenities would make each room more valuable to your guests.

Stock up on amenities

In the kitchen, for instance, you might wish to provide some spices and condiments, as well as coffee and tea. Plenty of cooking utensils and dishes will go a long way with guests who enjoy cooking for themselves while on vacation. Ensure you have everything you would need to cook the average meal.

The kitchen is also a good place to keep cleaning supplies for your guests to use. Most guests are willing to clean up their own messes, as long as they have the supplies to do so!

The bathroom is another area where amenities make a huge difference. Fluffy towels and washcloths, plus soap, shampoo, and conditioner, are all expected. You can go above and beyond by providing additional toiletries, or maybe even wine and bubble bath.

Living areas also need amenities. Books, DVDs, board games, and puzzles are perfect for the living room, especially if you’re marketing your vacation rental to families. Outdoor entertainment items like frisbees, footballs, or even just a table and chairs encourage guests to go outside and experience the area together.

List your property on multiple sites

What better way to attract that first guest to your vacation rental than to list your property on multiple sites? You should also start establishing your vacation rental on social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest. Create your own website for your property and ensure all of your listing and social media profiles link back to it as well. As you can imagine, marketing your property this way, rather than putting it on a single hosting site, is sure to be more helpful in bringing in that very first guest!

Main Takeaways

Once you’ve purchased your vacation rental property and familiarized yourself with local laws and regulations, there are a few more steps to take before welcoming your first guest.

  • Deep clean the entire house.
  • Eliminate safety hazards and implement various security measures.
  • Stay there yourself to troubleshoot any problems.
  • Create an inventory of everything in your vacation rental property.
  • Write a rental agreement that includes all house rules.
  • Decide on guest screening practices or choose to allow instant booking.
  • Create a welcome binder and basket to inform and impress your guests.
  • Spruce up the space to look clean, open, bright, and airy.
  • Stock up on amenities in the kitchen, bathroom, and living areas.
  • List your property on multiple sites to reach the most potential guests.
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