6 Reasons Vacation Rental Investment Is NOT For You

by | BiggerPockets.com

As a vacation rental strategist, most of my work is founded on the basis of positive vacation rental growth: how to improve your performance, how to get more out of your investment, how to enjoy the process. But sometimes, just as important as sharing the positives, is sharing the potential downsides of a serious life change. So not to get anyone’s hopes up too artificially high, I’ve decided this week to examine the top six reasons the booming vacation rental industry may not be…for you.

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1. You don’t like challenges

If you are the type of person who shies away from competition, gets nervous under fire, or avoids personal change, then vacation rentals are probably not for you. Vacation rental investing, as it sits now on the very beginning cusp of something massive, is all about encountering challenges and fashioning a solution to resolve them.

Most successful VR owners encounter challenges like difficult guests, maintenance issues, and niggling competitors on a monthly (if not weekly) basis: the key is to their success, as a result, is taking them head on and moving forward. If just reading about these kinds of challenges freak you out, vacation rentals may not be for you.

Related: All Rental Listings Are Not Created Equally

2. You despise technology

From digital welcome guides to online group payments, the vacation rental game is getting increasingly technological and if you are a technophobe who eats granola and screams at anyone who owns a TV set, then vacation rentals are probably not for you.

Vacation rental investment requires the embracing of technology and – as a one-person show – using weapons like smartphones and laptops to simplify and maximize your work flow. In that same breath, being open to new ideas and not being stuck in your ways are both characteristics of successful vacation rental owners. If you tend to oppose these trends, vacation rentals may not be for you.

3. You don’t stay in vacation rentals yourself

Like any good salesperson, being passionate about the product you are promoting is a must. If you don’t opt to stay in vacation rentals yourself when you travel; if you don’t really know or appreciate what makes vacation rentals a great alternative to hotels; if you haven’t researched what kind of ideal vacation rental you want to operate…if you are really just using the momentum of a happenin’ industry as a motive, then vacation rentals are probably not for you.

4. You are not the DIY type

The principles of the vacation rental industry, from top to bottom, are founded very much a Do It Yourself (DIY) paradigm. From vacation rental guests who prefer to cook their own meals to vacation rental owners who sometimes need to quickly repair their own leaky faucet, successful investors in the vacation rental space are almost always DIY-types: individuals who don’t mind trying to fix problems (from marketing to maintenance) by themselves before giving the professionals a call.

If the idea of starting a DIY business by yourself is too daunting (because let’s face it, running your own vacation rental means running your own business), then vacation rentals are probably not for you.

5. You don’t embrace the idea of hospitality

One thing many owners overlook when getting involved in the vacation rental industry is that it is actually a sector of the tourism and hospitality industries. While it might not seem so – What? I’m just letting some family stay at my house for the weekend!?! – investing in vacation rentals means becoming the most immaculate host.

Related: 5 Things Vacation Rental Guests Really Want

Sure, with the right resources, you can do this from nearby or afar, with assistants or by yourself. But if you want to reap the financial rewards of the vacation rental game without taking the time to understand your guests and make sure they feel at home; if you want to use your vacation home for you and only you; if you don’t like the idea of someone else sleeping in your bed, then vacation rentals are probably not for you.

6. You’d prefer the quick buck to the long run

Slick investors are often looking for the biggest return in the shortest period of time possible. Operating a successful vacation rental is not like flipping houses. It is more like growing a plant: it requires care, thought, love, and (most of all) time in order to flourish. You can do all the right things in the vacation rental industry (buy the right property, make the right upgrades, offer the right price) but if you’re not willing to wait and watch your brand grow, your success is likely short lived. If you are the type of investor who prefers quick, no-strings-attached projects – projects that bypass that level of trust and relationships – then vacation rentals, my friends, are probably not for you.

Photo: Marcel Germain

About Author

Matt is the Founder of the Vacation Rental Marketing Blog, the largest database of vacation rental marketing articles on the web.


  1. Great article. I love the analogy that a VR is like a plant; you have to nurture it and give it time to grow. You also have to be willing to keep up with your competition. Case in point: We recently learned that a VR right down the street from my family’s VR makes double what ours does per year. We researched it on VRBO and found out one of the things they do is meet the renters at the house with a fire roaring in the stove, a bottle of wine, and give a personal tour of the property. Nice touch, huh? That’ll keep ’em coming back year after year. Keep up the great posts!

  2. I have to agree that making your visiters feel welcomed is a great way of increacing repeat business, In spain we have a lot of properties that were bought as homes and then when the money got tight the owners moved back to the UK and then try to let the property at a distance, which works for some, but needs good management on the ground.

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