What’s the first thing a potential guest does when they visit a major listing site to book a vacation rental?
They put in their filters. They search for properties that have a certain number of bedrooms, certain available dates, a certain proximity to their desired activities …and certain amenities that the guest feels are critical to any enjoyable vacation.
We’ve compiled the most searched-for amenities according to top booking sites, and given a little insight into why that amenity is so essential to your guests.
Don’t have that amenity yet? Check the list below to see what the cost of adding that amenity to your property might be, and decide whether the investment is worth the reward.
Cover the Basics
Some amenities just aren’t optional. Most renters expect the following amenities to be available – so much so that they often don’t check to be sure that the property provides them! To avoid complaints about the amenities that have become so common guests have grown to expect them, make sure you supply these four if at all possible.
Initial Cost: $5,000 – $20,000 | Upkeep: $0 per month
You may think this is a “you have it or you don’t” feature, but it’s worth providing a place to cook even if you don’t have a full kitchen. 64% of travelers say they rent vacation rentals so they can cook their own meals. Address that need, and they’ll be pleased to book your property.
Don’t have a kitchen or the ability to install one? Rentals without a full kitchen can still take advantage of this amenity’s demand by adding a kitchenette that has as many features of a full-fledged kitchen as possible – letting you avoid a total remodel while still supplying guests with that make-or-break amenity.
Initial Cost: Roughly $100 | Upkeep: $30-60 per month
For most people, a web-free getaway is a hard sell these days. We’re all accustomed to being able to readily access our email, use video and online chat tools to stay in touch with our loved ones, and update our social media accounts – and not being able to do so can make an otherwise enjoyable vacation stressful.
Unless being “off the grid” is the unique proposition your remote property features, pretty much every guest will want fast – and free – Wifi they can access using their own laptops and devices.
Initial Cost: Roughly $100 depending on area | Upkeep: $20 per month
This one may surprise you, since the vast majority of us now have cell phones, but our research indicates that a plain old landline is one of the most searched-for amenities.
Rentals with spotty cell service will particularly benefit from this addition, but every guest likes to know they have a reliable way to call out for a pizza or contact emergency medical services. Ensure your rental doesn’t get overlooked by providing a landline to your guests – though you should definitely include clear rules about using the line for local calls only!
Initial Cost: $20 – $40 | Upkeep: $10 – $80 per month
People love to unwind in front of the TV, even on vacation. For guests with children, this can be especially helpful. It’s tough to fill every hour of the day with activities, even in the most beautiful spots, so convenient entertainment is an essential feature to many travelers.
While most properties have a TV, not every owner has invested in cable or satellite to ensure that the guest has access to a variety of entertainment options. If a guest feels like there’s never anything worth watching on TV, you may as well not have one – so it’s worth giving them plenty of channels to surf.
Comforts of Home
One of the reasons travelers choose vacation rentals over hotels is to enjoy the conveniences they like having available in their everyday lives. You can’t do laundry in a hotel room, but you can in most vacation rentals – and most guests are searching for a property that provides those home comforts.
Initial Cost: $90 – $500 | Upkeep: $0 per month
Speaking of keeping the kids entertained at home, many parents find a gaming console to be a welcome addition to their rental. Parents get a little alone time while kids enjoy their favorite games, so this feature is a win for the whole family.
If you decide to invest in this amenity, we recommend choosing the most recent console available to ensure your investment lasts as long as possible. Be sure to include the exact console in your description, too, so that guests know which games they can bring to play.
Initial Cost: $3,500 – $7,200 | Upkeep: Roughly $70 per month (depending on house size)
Rentals in a consistently mild environment might not see this amenity as especially necessary. However, in locations that veer too far from a mild 75 degrees at any point, guests are going to want assurance that they’ll be kept comfortable.
It’s possible to include window units to meet this need temporarily and for less expense, but most guests prefer central AC and specifically search for that amenity. It’s a costly investment, but getting your property in front of a larger pool of travelers – while enjoying cooler stays in your property when you come to visit – may make it worth considering.
Initial Cost: $500 -$2,000 | Upkeep: $0 per month
For guests staying longer than a few days, and particularly for those traveling with children, a washer and dryer can make their stay far less stressful. Providing laundry facilities can also make your life as an owner easier by providing an on-site location to wash linens after guest stays.
Being able to wash that fancy dress they brought after an unfortunate spill can be the difference between a great vacation and a huge disappointment – and guests know it, which is why this is one of the amenities that can make or break a booking.
Initial Cost: $0 | Upkeep: Potential additional cleaning
Guests – particularly long-term ones – love having the option to bring along their pet. Opening your rental to pets greatly increases the number of people who are interested in booking your property, and fortunately there’s little to no cost to you.
Include a pet fee to cover the additional cleaning cost of vacuuming pet hair, and be sure your guests know that owners will be held liable for any damage their pets cause. You’ll get more bookings, and make plenty of well-behaved canine friends.
Initial Cost: Varies | Upkeep: Varies
This convenience can be hard to acquire if your rental doesn’t already include it. If parking is technically available but you haven’t been willing to put in the additional effort to supply it to your guests, however, it may be time to reconsider.
Parking is one of the most searched-for amenities – so it’s well worth supplying it if at all possible. Could you move your storage to an attic or basement so that guests can park in the previously off-limits garage? Pay a $50 monthly fee (and raise your rental rates accordingly) to get a parking space in your complex? Make parking a priority and you’ll soon see an increase in your bookings.
Next Level Amenities
These amenities are highly desirable, but not every owner (or every property) can accommodate them. That said, if you have the space and the budget, these amenities will allow you to raise your rates and enjoy an even more luxurious home-away-from-home yourself when you visit your vacation rental.
Initial Cost: $2,000 – $60,000 | Upkeep: $245 on average per month
Especially in warm climates, the draw of a swimming pool cannot be overstated. Who doesn’t like unwinding poolside on a warm day? If you have the space on your property and enjoy a dip in the pool yourself, this is an investment worth considering.
Installing a pool also adds value to your property in the long-term, although you should weigh that benefit against the cost of maintenance. A Pool Heating Fee is standard for most properties that offer pools, so the heating cost can be offset, but basic cleaning and maintenance will be an ongoing cost. We’d only recommend adding a pool if you’d enjoy one yourself!
Initial Cost: $2,000 – $18,000 | Upkeep: $30-100 per month, depending on the season
The addition of a hot tub turns any rental into a romantic getaway. Topping many most-searched for lists, this feature is a great addition to most rentals and adds a touch of luxury that travelers have been shown to appreciate time and time again.
Investing in a hot tub is much more possible for most properties than a full-size pool, and it can often be tucked onto a back porch or into a small backyard. Keep in mind that your heating costs will increase in the winter months, and adjust your rates accordingly.
Initial Cost: $400 – $10,000 | Upkeep: $0 per month
Nothing says vacation like relaxing in front of a nice fire. For this reason, rentals with fireplaces tend to perform better, especially in colder climates. The initial buy-in for this amenity tends to be a little higher, but many owners who’ve taken the leap have found it to be worth the investment.
Adding a working fireplace is especially worth considering if your property already has a fireplace that has been closed off. It’s relatively easy to open it up again with a professional’s help. For those without this luxury, an electric fireplace can be a great – and inexpensive – alternative.
Porch or Balcony
Initial Cost: $15 – $35 dollars per square foot | Upkeep: annual maintenance
Everyone loves a room with a view. Even better? Being able to step outside into the fresh air to enjoy the scenery. Balconies and porches give guests the ability to embrace the great outdoors without leaving the comfort of the rental.
Consult with an architect to determine whether an add-on is possible for your property. You may be pleasantly surprised to find that it’s relatively easy and inexpensive to replace the windows in your master bedroom with a set of French doors and a balcony, providing a great feature not only for guests, but for your own enjoyment.
Initial Cost: $150 – $2,000 | Upkeep: $0 per month
It can be easy for owners to forget about indoor recreation; however, the numbers show that guests often don’t. A nice game room complete with a pool table is on many travelers’ lists of must-haves, and can be a relatively inexpensive way to expand your rental’s audience.
If you have a beautiful rental that just isn’t getting the attention it should be, investing in a few of these upgrades may be just the thing to take your rental’s income to the next level. Even the basics can take your searchability up a notch, and the more eyes you have on your property the more likely it is to be consistently booked.
What amenities have your guests told you they loved having in your property? Give us your suggestions for amenities that make or break a booking in the comments!
Not every property can provide every desirable amenity, but no matter your property type, Evolve can help ensure you’re getting the best possible rental income every year. Click here to find out how we can help you increase your income while giving travelers the first-rate experience they’re looking for.