Happy New Year! 2018 promises to be one of the biggest years yet for the vacation rental industry. According to Phocuswright, the market for alternative accommodations is expected to surpass $36.6 billion this year, and we want to make sure you’re in the best possible position to take advantage of that growth.
Are you prepared to do what it takes to achieve rental success in 2018? If you’re unsure of what do to or where to start – we’ve got you covered. Follow our list of 18 vacation rental resolutions to make 2018 your biggest year yet.
1. Invest in your rental
As the industry grows and competition heats up, it’s time to put work into your rental. In order to increase your income and pack your calendar with bookings, you will need to create a marketing strategy, and spend more time communicating with guests to ensure they have an amazing stay in your home. While 2018 is supposed to be the biggest year yet for the vacation rental industry, it will only be a more profitable year for you if you put in the necessary work and time to be prosperous.
2. Get organized
How do you stay on top of your rental’s upkeep and maintenance? Have you ever forgotten to clean the back room, or restock the kitchen? These small mistakes can have negative impacts on your guests’ experience, and they can lead to poor reviews of your vacation rental. This is why organization should be one of your biggest rental resolutions of 2018. Think about some of the most important aspects of your rental – working appliances, clean floors, made beds, etc. What would happen if you forgot to check on them? If you want some guidance on how to get organized and stay organized, download our vacation rental checklists.
3. Splurge on upgrades
Pools, hot tubs, fire pits, exercise equipment – these amenities give your vacation rental a competitive advantage. If you’ve been waiting to invest in some ‘extras’ for your property, there is no better time to upgrade than this year. Since 2018 is going to be the biggest year yet for vacation rentals, it is finally the right time to spend money in order to make money. Add a pool to make your beach property even more of a summer oasis, or purchase a hot tub to add some warmth to your winter wonderland. These upgrades will not only help you attract a larger pool of travelers, but also enable you to increase your nightly rates to generate a better rental income.
4. Make a Welcome Book
Pre-stay emails and check-in instructions are helpful tools for guests arriving to an unfamiliar place, but if you really want to greet your guests in a memorable way, take the time to create a welcome book. The welcome book can be your guests’ guide for everything from running a load of laundry to making a reservation at your favorite local restaurants. A welcome book is meant to do just that – make guests feel welcome. By informing them of all they need to do in a creative and thoughtful way, they will be able to navigate your rental with ease and comfort. You can find a great guide on creating a welcome book by clicking here.
5. Get professional photos for your listing
While the photos you took of your property may be just fine, the difference that professional photography can make in your booking performance is huge. High-quality, well-lit pictures show the best side of your rental and give you a leg up from your competition. Professional photos also build traveler trust by proving that you run a clean rental and care enough to put in the time for high-quality presentation. Even if you’ve been getting by with DIY photos up to this point, 2018 is a good year to take your listing to the next level with professional pictures.
6. Gift your guests
To make 2018 the year of 5-star reviews for your property, you should consider gifting your guests. Whether you choose to supply your guests with something as simple as a welcome note, or as intricate as a welcome basket, your guests will appreciate such a thoughtful and considerate gesture. It’s a great way to show your guests that you appreciate them choosing your home over others in the area and can set a great tone for their stay. Want to learn more about how to gift your guest? Click here to read our guide.
7. Update your listing
When was the last time you read over your listing? Does it include the updates you recently made to your kitchen? Does it mention the new concert venue that just opened nearby? A well-worded and frequently updated listing is incredibly important to the success of your rental. It’s the introduction guests have to your rental property, and often determines whether or not they’ll stay in your home – yet most homeowners neglect to update their listings year to year.
While you’re reviewing your listing and making any changes, you may also want to take a look back at your past guests. Do they fall into a specific age range? Do they tend to be families or friend groups? Find out who is most likely to want to stay at your rental, and market your listing directly to them.
8. Eliminate double bookings
Double bookings are a nightmare for both travelers and homeowners. Guests are left with no place to stay and a ruined vacation and you’re left with a guilty conscience and a horrible review. To be prosperous in 2018, commit to constantly updating your calendar to avoid double bookings and be sure to block out any weeks you’ve set aside for friends and family.
9. Consider providing experiences
2017 was a big year for guest experiences – and they have become increasingly more popular in the vacation rental industry. A guest experience goes beyond their stay at your rental – it includes activities for guests to do to truly experience the culture of the area. If you can provide guests with ‘local experiences,’ you’ll be setting yourself apart from other accommodations in the area.
If you’re a hands-on-homeowner, consider providing guests with a taste of the local life. This could be as simple as giving them a cooking class or connecting them to a local ski expert – or as complex as giving your guests horseback riding lessons. Guests will appreciate you taking the time to show them the lay of the land and will likely recommend your rental, give it a rave review, and repeat their booking in the future.
10. Reevaluate your pricing structure
The key to a profitable rental in 2018 might be a better pricing structure. Check out your competitors to see how they charge for the busy months versus the slow season. Are your prices so high that they are disqualifying you from getting more bookings? Or are you leaving money on the table by not charging more per night? Pricing more competitively can lead to more bookings, while pricing higher may get you more income with every booking.
11. Get ahead of your taxes
A new year means that it’s time to start thinking about the upcoming tax season.. One of the easiest ways to set yourself up for a successful and prosperous new year is to get a head-start on your taxes. Pull a report of all of your vacation rental income and make sure you understand how to account for these funds on your 2018 income tax return.
To make sure you’re covering all your bases and getting the most money back possible, we always recommend that you consult with a tax professional. We work with MyLodgeTax to help the homeowners in our network get through tax season stress-free. Don’t wait until the last minute to get your financial information in order and prepare for this year’s filing!
12. Spruce up your decor
What better way to start the new year than by redecorating of your rental? Maybe all your property needs is a fresh coat of paint, or different wall decorations to give it a little facelift. Breathing new life into a room can be as easy as purchasing new throw pillows or different color curtains. Maybe even try new lighting in the living room or moving the TV stand to the opposite wall. You never know which small changes can make the biggest differences.
Once you make these changes to your rental, be sure to upload new photographs of the updates and upgrades to your listing to ensure that your property is as-advertised.
13. Review check-in instructions to ensure they’re still accurate
The check-in is arguably one of the most important parts of the travel process, and should be near the top of your list of vacation rental resolutions. If your check-in instructions are confusing or outdated, then guests are likely to get frustrated as they try to access your property. Even if everything at your house is the same, it’s a good idea to confirm that your directions are still accurate.
If you tell guests to turn left at the Starbucks on the corner but the Starbucks isn’t there anymore, you will need to update the directions you provide. Small updates like this can be the difference between a good stay and a great one for your guests. Make sure their stay at your rental starts off on the right foot by ensuring that your instructions for arrival are clear, concise, and up-to-date.
14. Commit to good communication
As a homeowner, communication with guests is key to a seamless rental process. You should always respond traveler inquiries within 24 hours, so that they don’t lose interest and book a different property. However it’s not just a matter of responding quickly during the booking process, it’s also important to be both welcoming and prompt in your communication before check-in, throughout the stay, and after check-out to address any questions or concerns.
15. Check out new area attractions and restaurants
When was the last time you took the time to explore your area? Are there any new restaurants worth checking out? Has your favorite burger place closed down? Have you checked out the new exhibit at the museum downtown?
In order to provide accurate information and make personal recommendations to your guests, it’s smart to stay on top of recent developments in your area. Commit to taking the time to explore your area every year so you always know the top attractions – there’s likely some fun in it for you as well!
16. Set a vacation rental budget
Look at your past year’s rental income: what did you spend on maintenance, decor, utilities, and housekeeping? How did you divide it between what you needed and what you wanted? Use what you learned from past year to make better decisions – and a stricter budget – for this year. By budgeting your rental income, you can properly allocate to upgrades, services, and marketing, and get yourself on track for an orderly and profitable year.
17. Set goals
Just like with your own personal resolutions, the best way to be successful is to set and track your goals. In 2018, set goals for the bookings and income that you want to achieve for your rental. How many nights do you want to have guests in residence? How much money do you need to make in order to be profitable? Once you set your goals, you can try new strategies in everything from pricing to marketing, and find out what brings you the most success!
18. Enjoy your own property
You’ve earned it. Take some time to relax and enjoy all the work you’ve put into your vacation rental by blocking out some time on your calendar to spend there. It’s great to make a some extra income, but remember why you bought your vacation rental in the first place – to use as your own peaceful escape.
Even if you decide to follow just a few of our 18 vacation rental resolutions for 2018, any extra effort you put into your property will pay off. These changes – whether they’re big or small – may be the keys you need to make 2018 your best year yet.
Too busy to put in the time to achieve vacation rental success? Evolve has you covered. We create custom listings and personalized marketing strategies for homeowners across the country – increasing their income and saving them time. Click here to learn more about what Evolve can do for you.