Forest for the Trees – Making Your Property Memorable For all the Right Reasons

While the hotel and vacation rental industries are converging, the property and guest needs are very different from hotels to vacation rentals and guest impressions differ accordingly. Hotel guests remember individual components, often bringing to mind the lobby, check in process, parking, the bar, gym, pool, business center, and of course, their room. When guests stay at a vacation rental property, it’s the whole not the parts that they remember. Certain things (good and bad) may register during your stay (how sharp were those kitchen knives?), but guests leave with an impression of the property as a whole. When preparing your property for guest rental, make sure that your guests see the forest as a reflection of the trees. Set a style, or theme for your property, and consistently apply it. Here’s Seachange Vacation Rentals tips on preparing your property for Five Star Reviews.

Interior Design

No single factor affects your rental revenue more than interior design. Don’t be cheap! Budget up front for an interior design consult. Seachange Vacation Rentals has a certified professional stager on staff who specializes in vacation rental needs. We do not charge for our interior design consults, we simply require the property owner to cover costs if we hire a sub-contractor to paint, move furniture etc. People – it is money well spent. You will make it back and more. Whatever and wherever your option for renting out your property, hire an interior design expert knowledgeable in the vacation rental industry. Do not opt for a hotel interior designer. As I stated above, property and guest needs are very different from hotels to vacation rentals.

Seachange Vacation RentalsPick a Theme and Stick With It!

Vacation rental stylistic themes should reflect your locale as much as your personal taste. Yes, this is your beach home and your personality should shine, but not at the cost of deterring guests. If your property is in the desert oasis of Mid-Century Modern Palm Springs, knock yourself out when it comes to reflecting that aesthetic: from exterior landscaping to interior design. Cacti, rocks, minimal clean lines and mid century color pops are perfect. If you own a Key West cabin hideaway, go to town with lush landscaping, tropical pastels, and Earnest Hemingway mahogany furnishings. If you’re located in a mid-Atlantic beach town and you happen to love Mid-Century Modern, or Florida Tropical, resist the urge for copying that ‘one’ look. Instead take a walk in your community and let your  locale inspire your theme, then adapt for your taste. Tailor a locale, don’t depart from it, else risk losing the reason your guests visit your area to begin with!

When it comes to themes, remember that guests leave with an impression of your entire property, not individual components. Here’s the confusing, unfair thing about this: guests remember the whole; the whole is infused by a sum of the parts. Yes, a well stocked kitchen is important. If that kitchen is painted bright yellow, then bedroom 1 green, bedroom 2 pink, bedroom 3 blue, living area… You get the point. Your guests will not come back. View your property as one unit and pick one aesthetic for that unit. Who is your ideal guest? Do you wish to appeal to groups with young children? Pets? Groups with large age ranges? Here’s a clue: our mid-Atlantic beach town’s single largest demographic for our beach house rentals are multi-generational family groups. Complicated sound systems and futuristic chic lighting systems may sound and look cool, but could leave your property unoccupied while next door enjoys a offers a simpler, more relaxed vacationing option.

Your guest experience begins the minute they pull up outside in the car. Pick an aesthetic and stick with it. Have each component of the property support and build on the others. What use is a stunning kitchen if your bedrooms say frat house, and your yard an ivy strewn mess?

Seachange Vacation RentalsColor

Vacation rental bookings originate almost entirely online. Guests use booking sites like dating apps; very quickly swiping left and right depending on how great your photos look. Our top tip for great photos: tone down those wacky wall colors, but not to the point of blah blah beige! 1980s condos can keep beige walls.

Beige is the worst color choice for interior photography. White, while it may seem counter-intuitive for rental property walls, is the number one choice for vacation rental wall ‘color’. There’s a reason art galleries paint their walls white. White walls make any space look stunning in interior photos, and allow furnishings, accessories, and artwork to pop. Just make sure that you pick a pure white. Another color we use a lot is gray – a light almost white gray tone, and one deeper shade of gray to offset. Gray, just like white, photographs very well at all light levels throughout the day.

Much better for photographs and for practicality to pick one color or match one color with a complementary tone, and use that option throughout the property. Nothing else establishes a theme for your property. When it comes to paint recommendations, we love Sherwin Williams, as do many painting contractors.

Guest Comfort AKA Put Yourself in Your Guests’ Shoes (Flip-Flops)

Empathy is the most treasured of human gifts. While your beach home is your home first and foremost, you are renting the property out for the use and enjoyment of others, so their needs are just as important as those of the property owner.

Try an exercise. ‘Check’ into your property for a long weekend or week. What’s your first impression on arrival? Was it during evening hours? Is the entry well lit? Was there at least one light on auto on for check in? Are there starter amounts of bathroom tissue and paper towels? Do a grocery shop. How adequate is the kitchen for storage, cooking, gathering? Opening a bottle of wine? Is there a bottle opener? Making a salad or filleting a fish? How sharp are your knives? Is the property clean? Really clean. Hotel clean. Are light switches, cabinets, remote controls labeled for those new to a property?

Remember that vacation rentals are still predominantly self-catering holidays. Guests will use your property as their home base for their vacation. All the comforts of home need to be there. A phrase much heard is, “A home away from home.” This implies that vacationing guests want a beach house to feel like home. Yes, they do, however, as Mercedes Brennan of 1ChicRetreat says, guests are looking for their beach rental to be, “The home they want away from the home they have.” Impress them, don’t short change them. The days of hand me down, “It’s good enough for the rental” bric-a-brac are gone – even for ‘budget friendly’ properties. Guests expect comfortable, high quality, serviceable amenities. Not e very property is a $10,000/week property. That $1000/week property still needs to be comfortable, clean, and in good condition. Budget-priced and high-end priced furnishings alike need to be in good, clean, comfortable condition, else need to be replaced. Stains on soft furnishings and fabrics need to be swiftly dealt with. Arriving guests need to quickly settle and feel like the property is their home for their stay.

See your property through the eyes of your guests. Navigate your property as a guest and honestly rate it. How do you measure up? Can’t do this? Pull in friends and comp them a mini break with the return favor that they give you some private, honest feedback. Remember, your revenue comes from your guests. Happy Guests = Revenue = Happy Owners.

Clutter Mutter

One of my personal pet peeves on vacation rentals, as an industry professional, and a guest, is clutter. Property owners put way too much things into their properties. Too much furniture; artwork; random kitchenware… Again, see your property through the eyes of your guests. Make sure the right furniture pieces are there, and located in the appropriate places. Put enough accessories in place to, well, accessorize, but don’t make it feel like a retail showroom. If you keep finding your pieces in cupboards when you visit your property, instead of getting angry with your rental agent, ask yourself an honest question. Why are my guests consistently moving my things around, or hiding in drawers? Your rental agent can tell you! Guests move them to avoid damages, or they may be in the way.

In summary, all of the above advice comes straight from the trenches of vacation rental management. It is my considered opinion that it all comes down to investing upfront in an interior design service that knows the vacation rental industry (not the hotel industry) inside out. Set a cohesive design theme for your beach home, stage your property for guest needs and comfort while letting your personality shine. These are the steps to securing great Five Star guest reviews.