christine 03/29/2019

How to get your property vacation rental ready for VRBO

We’re back to following the journey of my amazing parents. Since we’re quickly trying to get the house rented we set off to do the following checklist:

  1. Get the Property Ready!
  2. Contact List of People Locally to Help
  3. Take pictures
  4. Publish the listing on VRBO
  5. Rental agreement, guide book and access to the property all complete

Make it Easily Accessible - Get the outside and access ready!

Guests expect that the rental property you show in your photos is going to look the same in person as what they saw in your listing.

I went out to my parents how and we did a full property walk around with a notebook on things that needed to be touched up, fixed, and/or removed completely.

Their beach house is extremely hard to find but two ways we solved that problem:

  1. Worked with Google Maps on VRBO to help make where our “pin” on the property is more accurate
  2. Get a sign that has a light over it that has the name of the property. We came up with “Pelican Pass” (my mom loves pelicans and there are tons in Sargent Beach, TX)

We’re also working on making sure that the directions to the property are specific in the welcome email template to the guest.

You can manage templates directly in VRBO so that you can easily shoot off messages quickly.

Safeguard Valuables

Seems pretty obvious but it’s better to put away anything that’s at the home that you don’t want guests to have access too. For my parents, it was their nice kayaks, expensive fishing gear, good booze, and a few personal items.

My parents turned the master closet into a “storage closet” by installing a deadbolt on it. They can lock up extra items that the maid would need as well to prep the property like essentials that guest will need each time.

Also, best to make sure that any mail is routed to your home or in a locking mailbox to safeguard any personal mail.

Get your Crew Together

This is probably something that might often get overlooked but since you may be a remote “host” or owner it’s important to gather a crew of effective people who can manage the things you’ll need.

A saying from when I was a property manager that I lived by was “You can try to plan the day but the day will always plan you”

You can’t prevent things from going wrong even if you plan for it all to be perfect there are things that happen.

A good example is a lockbox getting jammed and your guests not able to access your property at 10 pm.

We set out to find some trustworthy people in the area that were recommended. Here’s the crew we pulled together:

  • Cleaning / Housekeeper - We found a maid who cleans 7 other rentals in the area so she understands the difference between a regular house clean and a house clean needed for a rental.
  • Maintenance (on call) - There is a local man who is on call and charges a monthly fee he can do a number of things to help prep for our guests, fix things on the fly or come by the property every so often to check on things that might need to be done.
  • Friendly Neighbor - It was good to let our neighbor know what we’re doing. It’s common that other neighbors rent out their places so it was an easy conversation. He has an extra key stored away and can assist as well if guests need anything. Also, he’s a big wine drinker so I’m sure he’ll make friends with our new guests quickly!

Take professional photos

This is so important. In a Rentals United blog post after A/B testing his properties one owner realized that improved photos literally doubled his bookings.

Tyann, someone I love in this industry, takes professional photos for vacation rentals and I loved her quote from the Rentals United Blog post here:


Check out a makeover both with photos and prepping a property that she did in California last year.

Also think to yourself, which would you rather rent:



Better photos = More Bookings.

I’ll be posting a before and after of some of the photos we took of my parents' property. For now, if you want to provide feedback on their listing click below and feel free to contact me at referencing their listing!

We’ve taken more photos but they still need to be posted. However, we got their listing live and within 24 hours they had a booking for July 4th weekend.

The area they are in is not very competitive so if you’re in a competitive market, INVEST in photography. You’ll stand out when people are scrolling VRBO or Airbnb and that’s how you can really increase your bookings.


Not sure if you caught the update but it’s not VRBO it’s “VER-BOH”. VRBO has officially rebranded, the company announced yesterday that they have a new logo and that they’re changing the way they pronounce the site name.


In an article on Forbes the company talked about how “internal data suggest that 86% of U.S. travelers make a vacation rental decision collaboratively.”

That’s a large portion of travelers so their redesign includes giving guests the ability to create trip boards, add group members to vote on a favorite property and more.

This could be a win if you’re planning to list with VRBO. A new customer experience that helps travelers might help bring you more bookings.

However, my parents weren’t paying attention to this they were just pumped to finally GO LIVE. After finishing all the details that VRBO walks you through seamlessly on their website we were able to publish the listing and finish the final details of our rental agreement, guide book, and email templates.

The last piece to fix before hitting publish was the Rates Calendar. You never want to fix this after the fact or be misleading to guest and you should always optimize around seasonal vacation times like Memorial Day Weekend, 4th of July, etc.

There are great pricing tools out there like, Wheelhouse, that integrate with the listing platforms.

Here’s a look at what we did rate wise for the month of May to include Memorial Day weekend:


VRBO makes it easy for you to add in different rates, block weekends you want to travel or not rent, and publish it all quickly.

Equip the Home Checklist

I asked a lot of folks in the industry what they think is essential to prepping and creating a welcoming, cozy vacation rental.

We created it into a checklist that includes what we’ve talked about on this journey so far. Download the free checklist below!

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