Have you always wanted to start your own vacation rental business, or are you looking to improve your current vacation rental business in 2021? Look no further. We’re going to cover everything you need to know to take your vacation rental to the next level!
The vacation rental industry is in a period of unprecedented growth. Your vacation rental business should be, too! In 2019, the U.S. vacation rental market showed revenue of more than $17 billion! Industry experts predict that by 2023, revenue could grow to early $19.5 billion. Shouldn’t some of that revenue be rolling your way??
Working in the short-term-rental industry means our team stays at rentals around the world. Along the way, we’ve picked up on some clever tricks from hosts that made their property memorable for all the right reasons. Today we’re sharing them with you.
Research has found that vacation rentals are becoming more popular to travelers than ordinary hotels. That doesn’t mean that we, as hosts, still can’t learn a lot from the way hotels operate. A study by HomeAway (now Vrbo) and the University of Texas found that travelers are 73 percent more likely to remember their trip if they feel happy and excited about it during the planning stages, before the trip ever starts. So it’s all about offering your guests a great experience.
Start by sending them a welcome message, and include a guide with recommendations for restaurants and things to do in the area. Nine out of 10 times, guests staying at short-term rentals want to experience life as a local.
Who doesn’t love a nice welcome present? This is the part where you can get creative. You might want to leave your guests a local specialty like a bottle of wine, some snacks, or even a little souvenir to remind them of their wonderful stay at your property. It’s a small gesture, but it will make a massive difference to your guests and might even help you to get that 5-star review.
Ever thought about creating a welcome book for your guests? Your welcome book will serve as a guide for your guests during their stay. It will inform the guests of the house rules and everything that’s available to them during their stay.
Does your property have a few quirks? You’re not alone. Every property does! Let your guests know where the hard-to-find light switches are, which remote is the one that actually turns on the television, and info about that one burner on the stove that gets way too hot. And remember, while most of these things are common knowledge to you, your guests will have no idea. They can get frustrated when searching to find the answers. Make it as easy as possible for them. Your welcome book is the perfect place for descriptions, instructions, pictures, and all the rules your guests should follow during their stay. Just make sure to keep it short, fun, organized and easy to read.
Haven’t jumped on the smart-home train yet? Well, it’s about time that you do so! Smart-home technology devices are a MUST for every vacation rental owner in 2021. Not only are they adding more value to your property (highly appreciated by your guests), but they serve as a protection for your property, to make managing a vacation rental business so much easier.
Smart locks are a simple way to make your guests’ life a breeze. They are revolutionizing how property managers and homeowners keep their guests happy. No one has to worry about losing a key again. With smart locks, all our guests have to do is look at their phones and type in the provided key. It’s that effortless!
Ever considered using noise monitoring at your property? NoiseAware’s noise monitoring sensors allow you to have an insight into the well-being of your property without interfering with your guests’ privacy. If your guests end up being too loud, NoiseAware allows you to step in from wherever you are, and ensure the safety of your property as well as your community. Learn more about smart-home technology here.
This might seem like a random tip to you, but doesn’t every host struggle with the same problem? Of course, everyone loves white towels. They look fresh, clean, and add that hotel vibe to our vacation rentals. But sadly, most of the time, our nice white towels won’t stay white super long. It only takes one guest to wash their makeup off with your pristine towel to ruin it completely.
Ever wondered how to keep your washcloths clean and makeup-free from guests washing their faces? It’s something you wished you thought of before all of the trips to the store for replacement towels! The answer: black washcloths. Monogram them with “MakeUp” to ensure your guests reach for the black towels instead of your white ones.
Who doesn’t love to travel with their pets? Pet-friendly vacation rentals are on the rise. According to Booking.com, 42% of pet owners around the world would choose their accommodation based on whether or not they could bring their pets.
As vacation rentals typically offer more space than a simple hotel room, it makes them far more desirable for pet owners looking for a place to stay. So why not change your rules and allow pets at your property? While allowing pets at your property might mean more work for you, just think about all of the new bookings you will get. If you are nervous that someone is going to bring a pack of animals, set a limit on the number of pets and their weight limit, to make you feel more comfortable. Some hosts even ask for a picture of the pets before the stay, so they have an idea of what type of pet will be at their property.
An increasing number of travelers are opting for health-focused vacations. A report by the Global Wellness Institute found that wellness tourism is now a booming $639-billion market. You want to highlight things that will help people relax and rejuvenate when staying at your property!
Have a pool or a hot tub in your backyard? Make sure to showcase it on all of the booking platforms you use! Create a little wellness oasis in your backyard that guests will love and never want to leave. Make sure to get some high-quality outdoor furniture that offers enough space for everyone to sit or lay by the pool. You also want to provide nice pool towels and consider having an outdoor kitchen area where they can grill food without leaving the relaxing space you have created.
Don’t we all love to experience a little more luxury when we’re on vacation? Spending a little more money upfront to invest in a few luxury amenities for your guests will make a huge difference. Don’t worry, we don’t want you to break your bank account but here are a few suggestions on items you might want to consider getting for your vacation rental:
Having all of these products in your rental will not only increase your bookings but will give your guests the best vacation experience they can get.
These were our top 7 tips to improve your vacation rental business in 2021! What are you waiting for? Let’s go ahead and turn your vacation rental into a place that guests won’t want to ever leave. Here’s to a great 2021, more bookings, and happy guests!
Like owner-occupied homes and long-term leases, Airbnb rentals have neighbors. And those neighbors aren’t always thrilled to live near a short-term vacation rental property. Research consistently shows that short-term-rental neighbors worry about one thing more than any other: noise. In fact, neighbor concern about noise ranks higher than concerns about parking, trash, smoking or general safety.
When guest noise is a problem (and sometimes even when it’s not) neighbors are likely to complain. They may complain directly to the rental’s guests, or they may contact law enforcement or security to intervene. They may also lodge complaints with the rental’s property management company or owner.
However or wherever neighbors voice noise complaints about Airbnb rentals, these complaints can cause serious problems for STR owners and property managers. A vacation-rental guest who has been yelled at by an angry neighbor may retaliate with a negative property review on Airbnb. A neighbor complaint lodged with a city’s short-term-rental licensing department may result in hefty fines for the property owner. Repeat complaints may lead to revocation of the property’s short-term-rental permit altogether. In short, neighbor noise complaints can hamstring vacation-rental marketing efforts and deeply cut into short-term-rental profits.
But by taking a handful of proactive steps, short-term-rental property managers and hosts can prevent most, if not all, Airbnb neighbor noise complaints.
Nobody likes to feel caught off guard or left in the dark. So don’t let your short-term vacation rental be a surprise to neighbors. Communicate to neighbors that your property is being rented out as a vacation accommodation. Express that you are invested in the neighborhood. Let them know you care about the security and comfort of the people who live next door to or near your Airbnb rental.
List out the steps you are taking to ensure that guests are quiet, well behaved and respectful (guest vetting prior to booking, house rules that must be followed, remote noise monitoring). You may even consider offering your Airbnb property to neighbors’ own visitors at a special “friends and neighbors” rate. And, of course, make sure your neighbors can get in touch with you immediately if they need to.
If your short-term vacation rental property or properties are managed by a professional property management company, find out how the company notifies neighbors of new STRs adjacent to them. Ask how they respond to neighbor noise complaints. Find out how you can expect to be informed about complaints. Get their complaint-response policy in writing, including liabilities and exclusions.
Fortunately, guest vetting services and smart Airbnb sleuthing make this step fairly easy. Before accepting a booking through Airbnb, look at the guest’s rental history. Read the potential guest’s reviews. Are they consistently positive? Do previous hosts describe them as quiet and friendly? Good communicators?
The simplest way to avoid Airbnb neighbor noise complaints is to rent your property to guests who are unlikely to make excessive noise. This means guests with an established short-term-rental history and positive reviews from previous hosts. It also means enforcing occupancy limits. You may also consider requiring multi-night minimum stays, especially on holiday weekends and during events.
Reliable, experienced short-term-rental property management companies typically have strict guest vetting policies. Since property managers are responsible for maximizing nights booked and minimizing unanticipated expenses, they focus on getting positive reviews, and preventing noise-related penalties and damage.
Airbnb, Vrbo and other booking sites have “house rules” sections on property listings that you can customize. Customizable fields generally include maximum occupancy (don’t rent a two-bedroom condo to a group of 10). They also include fields for special events (where you can prohibit parties and events) and minimum stay (two nights or more are recommended for holidays, festivals, concerts and events).
Letting guests know they will be charged penalties for violating house rules is a great way to prevent noise, and neighbor noise complaints. These rules, and reminders about penalties, should be included in booking and pre-stay correspondence, and be on display at the property.
Being able to remotely monitor noise gives short-term-rental property owners and managers greater power to prevent complaints and damage. Privacy-safe noise devices measure decibel levels and duration of noise. They do not identify specific sounds or record sounds. These devices can easily be installed during a cleaning turnover between bookings. Once installed, they can be monitored via mobile app or website. Guests are reminded via text message to take it down a notch if things get too loud. Most of the time, this gentle reminder takes care of the noise problem without neighbors being bothered, or getting involved. Industry research has shown that a single night of rental not protected by privacy-safe noise protection can lead to unplanned costs of up to $2,500.
Noise monitor data can also help property managers and owners defend against false noise complaints. Let’s say that a neighbor complains that a nearby Airbnb rental is the source of constant noise, simply because they don’t want a vacation rental in their neighborhood. Decibel data measured by a noise sensor can help prove that excessive noise did not, in fact, take place. This documentation can mean the difference between expensive fines or a revoked permit, and enjoying the benefits of well-reviewed, well-maintained, profit-generating investment property.
Some cities and counties actually require noise monitors to be installed in order to obtain a short-term-rental permit. Even if not required by ordinance or permitting rule, a privacy-safe noise detection device is an excellent tool to protect property, rental profits, and neighbors’ rights to a quiet neighborhood and a peaceful night’s sleep.
Following in the footsteps of New York, San Francisco and Santa Monica, Denver is the latest city to impose fines on short-term-rental platforms like Airbnb for listing unlicensed properties. Airbnb, meanwhile, appears to be doing its part to minimize non-compliant short-term rentals in the Mile High City. It is also taking steps to prevent noise complaints and “party house” situations as the summer holidays heat up. So what does this mean for short-term vacation rental owners and property managers? And how will it impact the upcoming Fourth-of-July weekend?
In late November 2020, the Denver city council voted to fine online short-term-rental platforms up to $1,000 per transaction “if they help unauthorized people rent out their homes to vacationers and other short-term occupants.” The council says it took this action to prompt rental platforms such as Airbnb to cooperate with its licensing regulations by prohibiting unlicensed rentals from marketing through the platform. The new legislation, which came in part as a result of complaints about excessive guest noise and rowdy gatherings associated with short-term rentals, was scheduled to go into effect in 2021.
Then, in February 2021, following several months of negotiation, city officials rejected a proposal by Airbnb on how to remove unlicensed or otherwise illegal listings from the site. For its part, Airbnb says the move to cease negotiations and move forward with the new legislation, and its associated $1,000 fine, came as a surprise.
Denver first started requiring licenses for short-term-rental operation in 2016. Since then, the city has worked to ensure that all short-term rentals and vacation rentals are in compliance, and operating under license guidelines. Colorado’s most populous city currently has just under 1,960 licensed short-term rentals. But, city officials have said, if rental marketplace platforms don’t require proof of a current license, it’s inevitable that some owners will rent out their properties on those platforms without the proper license. Without a license, a property is not subject to licensing requirements governing safety measures, trash abatement, noise mitigation, or sufficient parking spaces, or the fines levied by the city for violating those requirements. And since Airbnb controls over 90% of Denver’s short-term-rental market, getting the platform, and others like it, to cooperate with the licensing requirement is paramount to ensuring owner compliance.
Enacting legislation that compels listing sites to show proof of license for listed rentals (and levying fines on listing sites rather than individual owners) appears to cover the most compliance-enforcement ground in one place at one time.
The good news: Since the new legislation went into effect there have been no violations cited, which means both listing platforms and owners seem to be on board with improving short-term rentals for guests, neighbors and communities.
In response to community concerns, legislative measures, and a general recognition that “large gatherings remain a potential public health issue,” Airbnb is enforcing its “party ban” in Denver, as travelers make their Fourth-of-July-weekend plans.
Guests without a history of positive reviews will not be allowed to book one-night stays in Denver over the holiday weekend. Airbnb notes that these types of bookings most often correlate with parties and noise complaints. The rental platform is also imposing additional “defenses” on two- and three-night stays, including verifying that the booking guest is 25 or older, and placing restrictions on whole-house rentals within a certain radius.
Get more information on Airbnb’s “Summer of Responsible Travel,” and find out how you can prevent noise issues and neighbor noise complaints at your Denver short-term vacation rental on Independence Day weekend…and every weekend!
In his April 2021 CNBC interview, Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky predicted, “To meet the demand over the coming years, we’re going to need millions more hosts.” That’s millions more owners and managers, offering houses, apartments, condos and private rooms to leisure and business travelers seeking the flexibility, convenience and privacy of a short-term rental or vacation rental. So how does a new STR investor or experienced host take advantage of this expanding demand, while making their property stand out in an increasingly crowded field…and generate greater and more consistent profit? By following these four guidelines, for starters.
The best way to increase your vacation rental income is to ensure consistent occupancy. And the best way to do that is by making marketing your top priority. It’s not enough to just list your rental property on well-known short-term vacation rental portals like Airbnb and VRBO. To really maximize booking frequency and get top dollar for your property, you have to expand your exposure, and show off your rental’s best assets beautifully.
Photos are the single most important factor potential guests consider when viewing your listing. No matter how delightful your property description or glowing your guest reviews, if your photos don’t show your rental in the best possible light, guests are unlikely to book. Stage your rental space meticulously by opening curtains, hiding trash cans, neatly stacking or hanging towels, making all beds, fluffing sofa cushions, and adding a few “extras” like flower-filled vases or a few cookbooks in the kitchen.
Then have a professional photographer photograph your rental, or shoot high-definition images with a high-quality digital camera yourself (not your mobile phone), inside and out. Room photos should show different angles, while exterior photos should showcase featured spaces like the firepit, lounge area, deck or pool.
Maintaining your rental property and preventing guest noise, occupancy limit violations and unruly behavior isn’t just a matter of neighborly consideration. These steps are directly connected to your vacation rental income. Why? Because frustrated neighbors may interact negatively with your guests, impacting their experience and, ultimately, their reviews of your property on listing sites. This may happen when guests are in violation of rental rules. However, it also may happen when they’re not technically breaking rules, but are still creating real or perceived problems for neighbors.
In some cases, neighbors may complain to you during or after the disturbance. Or they may take a more direct route and contact the police. If your guests are behaving in violation of your rental rules or of local ordinances, the responsibility is ultimately yours. To keep the peace with your neighbors, and avoid having to deal with local authorities, or city or county permitting bodies, regarding noise complaints, take a proactive stance on protecting your property.
Installing a privacy-safe noise-detection device is one of the best ways to prevent guest volume from getting out of hand. A small, nonintrusive, wall-mounted noise-monitoring unit that measures decibel levels, but does not record noise or identify specific sounds, will help protect your property, while protecting guest privacy. By gently notifying guests when volume exceeds allowable levels, a noise-detection system takes the pressure off both you and your guests, and helps ensure that neighbors don’t intervene in, complain about or report noise incidents.
In cities, counties and municipalities that require special short-term vacation rental permitting, certain requirements must be met in order to obtain a permit or license. These typically include verifying on-site safety and sanitation measures, having ample parking availability, limiting occupancy, posting signage and having a designated “agent” or contact who can be reached by guests during their stay.
Increasingly, vacation-rental regulations and STR regulations are also addressing guest noise. As post-pandemic travel expands, and local councils revisit short-term-rental ordinances and review local residents’ concerns, some cities and counties are making on-property noise detection a requirement for obtaining a rental license.
All requirements for obtaining a permit should be clearly outlined in your local short-term-rental ordinance. Some will require inspection verification, others require self-reporting. Almost all requirements have associated fines and penalties for first, second and subsequent violations. Permit-violation fines typically range from $250 to $1,000, and repeated violations may result in the revocation of the rental permit.
Whether you’re paying penalties or facing the loss of your rental permit altogether, violating STR regulations is a serious legal and financial matter. A great way to protect your vacation rental income and avoid surrendering profits to your city or county is to always maintain compliance with short-term rental rules.
While short-term rentals and vacation rentals can be excellent sources of revenue, the income they generate isn’t completely “passive.” Unlike long-term leases and rentals, where once an agreement is signed the tenant is more or less on their own (except in urgent or emergency cases), short-term rentals require regular maintenance, restocking, marketing and booking-transaction management.
It’s important to have a documented budget for your rental that includes all daily, weekly, monthly and annual expenses. These may include:
With an accurate budget and regularly-maintained expense report, you’ll be able to price and market your property accordingly (taking advantage of seasonal travel and local events that might draw guests, reducing rates and offering specials to encourage off-season travel, raising rates and having stricter cancellation policies during peak seasons) to make sure you cover all costs and maximize your short-term vacation rental income, now, and for the long term.
Atlanta is the newest city to join the short-term rental renaissance of 2021. Which is great news for Atlanta homeowners who want to ramp up revenue from existing rental properties, or make some side cash by renting rooms in properties they occupy. It’s also positive news for investors looking to purchase profit-generating properties for rental to tourists and business travelers. Plus, new licensing requirements, and closer attention by local authorities to noise complaints related to short-term rental properties, should come as welcome news for the many Atlanta residents whose concerns about “mega mansion parties” led the city to reconsider its STR regulations.
The Atlanta city council’s March vote allows homeowners to rent rooms or entire houses to guests for up to 30 days.To do so, owners have to apply for an annual license, pay a $150 license fee, and collect city hotel-motel taxes from guests. The 13-1 vote to allow short-term home and room rentals was roundly praised by STR giant Airbnb, which said it is “committed to being a long-term partner to the city of Atlanta,” and to working with the city to promote tourism. If this sounds like money-making music to your ears, here are four awesome additional reasons to own an Atlanta short-term rental home, unit or room.
Atlanta is consistently cited as one of the most affordable major U.S. cities to buy residential and investment real estate. While the median price of a single-family home in metro Atlanta hit a high of $340,000 in March 2021 according to real-estate brokerage company Redfin, that price is still much lower than other similar urban centers in the country, including:
Meanwhile, real estate analytics firm Mashvisor puts the median price for a multi-family home in Atlanta at $534,923.
Looking at the rental side of things, Airbnb lists entire homes for rent in Atlanta’s trendy Cabbagetown, Buckhead and Peachtree neighborhoods during the city’s high seasons (spring and fall) for an average of $150 to $350 per night, for occupancies of four to six guests.
For private rooms in homes, which usually can accommodate one to two guests, nightly prices range from about $60 to nearly $200. These prices are expected to be significantly higher for dates corresponding with major Atlanta festivals, concerts and hot-ticket professional sports events.
With more than 13,000 tech companies based in metro Atlanta, and new firms launching every week, the city is one of the fastest-growing technology hubs in the country. The 2020 “Deloitte America Fast 500” list of the country’s fastest-growing public and private tech companies includes 24 metro Atlanta companies, compared to just nine Atlanta companies on the list 10 years ago. The city of Atlanta is also a dominant force in the biomedical and finance sectors. And in recent years, the city’s flourishing film and television production industry has brought in thousands of workers who require short-term accommodations year-round.
Located in the heart of downtown Atlanta, the 1.5-million-square-foot Georgia World Congress Center is the world’s largest LEED-certified convention center, and an in-demand, centrally located space for important U.S. and global conferences and conventions. As COVID-related travel restrictions lift and businesses start holding in-person meetings and conferences once again (GWCC already has such events as the American Society of Hematology Annual Meeting & Exposition, the North American Commercial Vehicle Show and the American Chemical Society Annual Conference on the books for 2021), business travel to Atlanta is slated to grow significantly over the next five years.
Of course, The Big Peach, as Atlanta is affectionately known, is also a major tourist destination. While the city’s tourism industry took a hit during the coronavirus pandemic, along with every major tourist destination across the globe, leisure travel is poised to bounce back big time. According to the Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau, the city’s hotel occupancy rates increased nearly 40% between 2010 and 2017. Looking toward the next seven years, the city expects to see its average 50 million annual visitors grow year after year after year. That’s no surprise, considering that Atlanta is home to:
Add to that the city’s fine climate, serene lakes, superb shopping and bustling nightlife scene, and you’ve got a destination tailor-made for visits from young professionals, families and retired leisure travelers alike.
Citing flexibility, features, location and price as top factors in opting for short-term rentals and vacation rentals over traditional hotels and motels, both business and leisure travelers are contributing to the sharp rise in STR bookings nationwide. These factors, combined with a continued government stimulus program and a sustained high consumer-savings rate make for a great short-term rental outlook. And Atlanta, with its new short-term rental ordinance, is ideally positioned to capitalize on this boom.
Atlanta is home to some of the nation’s most technologically advanced medical facilities, including:
Research firm Healthgrades has given a five-star clinical rating to many of Atlanta’s hospitals, for areas of medicine from obstetrics to coronary care to neurosurgery. Atlanta’s Emory University is renowned for its teaching hospital, which is nationally ranked in 12 medical specialties, and provides services in spine surgery, orthopedic and gynecologic oncology, organ transplants, and stem cell transplants, among other areas.
With its breadth and quality of medical specialists and healthcare centers, Atlanta naturally attracts patients seeking the best possible outcomes. Depending on the specific treatment and recovery, patients traveling to Atlanta often must stay in the area for an extended period of time, either in the hospital or a rehabilitation facility. And, frequently, their spouses, partners or children will travel with them.
Short-term rentals offer these travelers a home-away-from-home environment that differs significantly from hotel stays. Guests can rest easier in a more expansive space, with the ability to cook meals, do laundry and work remotely, in comfort and privacy—both of which are valued at a premium when supporting a loved one through medical care.
Guests don’t have to worry about dressing up, interacting with strangers, dealing with expensive and restrictive parking, or being interrupted by housekeeping when trying to get much-needed rest. Short-term rental hosts can further cater to patients’ families by including helpful amenities in their properties, including gourmet coffee (for early mornings and late nights), bottled water (for drives to and from healthcare facilities), laundry detergent and fabric softener (to make washing clothes more convenient), and thoughtful comforts such as extra-plush towels or a nice bottle of wine.
Properties in Atlanta’s Druid Hills, Morningside-Lenox Park and Virginia Highland neighborhoods all offer close proximity and short drive times to Emory University Hospital. These areas are also popular with tourists, providing a well-balanced market for short-term rental investors. Located between Buckhead and Midtown, Atlanta’s Shepherd Center, specializing in spinal cord and brain injury treatment, is one of U.S. News & World Report’s top 10 rehabilitation hospitals in the country. Families of patients receiving treatment at this Atlanta medical facility have many options in nearby short-term rentals, which also happen to be located in neighborhoods that are also top choices of leisure and business travelers.
Additional top-notch healthcare clinics and centers are located throughout Atlanta, including Piedmont Atlanta Hospital (located adjacent to Shepherd Center), Northside Hospital (with numerous different specialty facilities dotting the metro-Atlanta region), and Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, with three hospital locations in the city.
While the new Atlanta ordinance requires owners to pay a fee for operating as a short-term rental, and requires that taxes be collected and remitted, it imposes few other restrictions on rental owners. The requirements it does impose include:
But that’s pretty much it. Which means that the responsibility for vetting guests, maintaining the property, ensuring neighbors’ rights to a safe, quiet, pleasant neighborhood or building, and avoiding non-compliance fines, lies squarely with the owner and his or her designated agent. Here are three things you can do to fulfill that responsibility, and protect your Atlanta short-term rental investment:
You can find the full text of Atlanta’s new short-term rental ordinance here. Interested in finding out how easy it is to track rowdy behavior and excessive noise at your short-term rental in Atlanta from afar? Get all the information you need, right here!