What "over the top" thing do you do for your vacation rentals?

23 Replies

I'm in the middle of a big road trip with the family, staying at multiple AirBnB's along the way. 

What "extra" amenities do you provide to make the stay special?

@Paul Sandhu , I already know yours.

I provide a fantastic location and all the comforts of home - e.g. smart TV, fully stocked kitchen (with some cooking basics like oils and coffee).

Anything "extra" I provide is inherent to the location - one house is on a river, one has a view, one is super private but also close to town.  

The river house has a hanging swing that overlooks the river - I suppose that's an "extra", and the guests love it.  The house with a view also has a pool table and hot tub, but that's standard for the area.

I'm not providing anything consumable like gift baskets or event tickets or anything like that. Nothing that requires additional expense/work to maintain.  I believe most guests are choosing an AirBNB based on their housing needs and wants, not on bonus items.

Many of my guests are "regulars", so I try to do one "over the top" per year, and it usually turns into two or more.  This year is a complete remake of the kid's room, with new bunk beds and furniture.  Then, I did a complete remake of the front yard / entry.   Last year, I remade the master bedroom furnishings, moving the 52" TV from the living room to the master bedroom wall and getting a new, 64" HDTV for the living room.  The year before it was new hardwood / tile flooring in the living room and a new hot tub.  You get the idea.

I think it’s region specific. My rentals in Hawaii are all provided beach towels, boogie boards, snorkeling equipment, beach toys, a wagon,  and other random beach stuff. It’s pretty standard for all rentals here. 

@Mindy Jensen For our VRBO Lake House we provide kayaks, paddle boat, canoe, life jackets and floats.

We provide consumables: paper products, spices, condiments (squeeze bottles only) coffee. these items don't cost much and the guests really appreciate them.

We have a fully stocked kitchen. extra pillows and blankets.

We have something sweet in the fridge for them with a personal welcome card.

We want to make it a great vacation for our guests and our 74 five star reviews on homeaway reflects that.

We are constantly making upgrades to the property.

I just have a playstation 4 in the living room. My HOA has a community pool with waterslides and bar, but that's just how most vacation homes in disney area are setup.

I haven't done it yet, but at the last place I stayed they had a "$20 wine wall" - you just threw $20 in cash in a jar on the counter and could pull from their stock - which took up an entire wall. I like the idea for my rental b/c its remote (closest town is a 20 min drive) so if folks run out of booze they can just grab a bottle. The mark-up doesn't hurt either. :)

@Mindy Jensen Great question! If we’re hosting in our separate apartment, we offer genuine interest, concern and conversation with our guests. We try to make that personal connection and it goes a long way. 

If it’s in one of our outof state houses, we reach out and express the same sentiments. There’s no replacement for personal connections, despite, and even with, technology. 

And we just returned from our trip to Colorado and stayed in Airbnb’s, including one in Longmont!! Enjoy your trip!!

@Mindy Jensen

We strive for 5/5, with that said

The "Extra" Amenities include, a few cokes in the fridge, a welcome tray with some snack when they arrive (Picture attached), beach towels for the pool, apple cider for special occasions, comfortable bedding, something you would actually sleep in in your own home.

Updated 5 months ago

Oh, I forgot to add, we provide a keurig coffee maker and k-cups.

Originally posted by @Christen G. :

I haven't done it yet, but at the last place I stayed they had a "$20 wine wall" - you just threw $20 in cash in a jar on the counter and could pull from their stock - which took up an entire wall. I like the idea for my rental b/c its remote (closest town is a 20 min drive) so if folks run out of booze they can just grab a bottle. The mark-up doesn't hurt either. :)

 That's a great idea!  Could work with beer/whisky too.  Just remember to take an inventory between guests!  Haha.

Originally posted by @Christen G. :

I haven't done it yet, but at the last place I stayed they had a "$20 wine wall" - you just threw $20 in cash in a jar on the counter and could pull from their stock - which took up an entire wall. I like the idea for my rental b/c its remote (closest town is a 20 min drive) so if folks run out of booze they can just grab a bottle. The mark-up doesn't hurt either. :)

 While it may never actually be an issue, do you think may push up against laws surrounding the sale fo liquor?

Originally posted by @Andrew Boettcher :

 While it may never actually be an issue, do you think may push up against laws surrounding the sale fo liquor?

 Good point.  Seems like it's legally a gray-area.  I've also read about "booze exchanges" where there's a "take a bottle, leave a bottle" policy.  That makes it more ok, I think, because you're not directly "selling" alcohol.

I don't have a vacation rental of my own, but I've stayed in quite a few airbnbs in different states and countries. I always love it when the host leaves something to snack on. It doesn't have to be anything crazy, but it's always nice especially after a long day of traveling to have something easy to snack on. Also, I love it when they leave breakfast treats. We stayed in a place for our honeymoon and the host left us stuff to make bellinis and chocolates. I stay in places based on the quality and location of the home, but the extra unexpected treats are always appreciated! 

For our Honolulu, HI rental we provided all basic beach items (cooler too), umbrella (hot rainy days), spice rack, Hawaii coffee and chocolate mac nuts, and a welcome hand written note. Most importantly is that we removed all personal items so that the tenants would make the place their own. 

Some really nice ideas!
My wife and I operate a listing in Northern Ky. Our approach is to provide several little personal touches that have minimal cost but make our guests feel welcome instead of an “over the top” gesture. Our go to’s right now are 2 dozen donut holes ($5.50) from a local bakery, we write a personalized welcome message on a chalkboard the guests see when they walk in, my wife also will do a couple towel animals on the beds.

For my units on the Oregon coast, each has a wood burning stove, and I provide fluffy bathrobes and down comforters. Not over the top... but creature comforts I would love to see in a vacation rental-- and I'm booked almost every night of the year!

Originally posted by @Andrew Boettcher :
Originally posted by @Christen G.:

I haven't done it yet, but at the last place I stayed they had a "$20 wine wall" - you just threw $20 in cash in a jar on the counter and could pull from their stock - which took up an entire wall. I like the idea for my rental b/c its remote (closest town is a 20 min drive) so if folks run out of booze they can just grab a bottle. The mark-up doesn't hurt either. :)

 While it may never actually be an issue, do you think may push up against laws surrounding the sale fo liquor?

Not at all. We're off-grid and have a pretty unique almost niche rental.

^^^ All great ideas!  I like the idea of any small, non-perishable, low cost items that a client would otherwise have to go to a store to get.  Convenience is the name of the game and if someone saves me time that I can then spend with my family, they get big points for that.

Hi Mindy and everybody that has responded,  

I have two short term vacation rentals (single family homes) 18 minutes from Disney World in the Orlando Florida area.  When we first set them up, my idea was to bake cakes, cookies, balloons, or just something completely over the top.  Over the year I have owned the two houses I have learned most of my guests, may not really want or need that.  I have mostly 5 star reviews on AirBnB, HomeAway, and Booking.com, I have learned to reduce my "over the top provisions" to 3 things they are not expecting: 

Sunblock Spray ($5.00-$9.00) consumable  (use what you need, if you need) Most people bring sunblock, but usually will not pack enough.  

Umbrella ($20.00, purchased in September for our own personal use, and I am still surprised nobody has stolen it) I tell people to keep it in their car until check out, in case they need it. 

Stroller (people with 5 year olds re-learn how fast their kids get tired and how heavy they become)

These have worked best for me, since I provide a 24 hour check in, I don't want cookies or cake sitting out all day for them to get there, and it reduces the work required on my property manager in getting consumables for the new guests. I hope this helps. 

Francisco Avila


Ahh Villa Clermont FL

providing guests wine or liquor is a liabilty issue - the 16 year old kids will find a way to get to it

I currently have a cabin in North Georgia. I always have a gift basket with snacks, cold water in the fridge, a bottle of wine or sparkling cider. 

I live a few hours from the cabin, but if I happen to be there, I'll bake cookies for the next guest.

Charcoal and lighter fluid for the grill, hairdryers, first aid kit with itch relief ointment for bug bites, etc., umbrellas, ponchos, spices, cooking oil, coffee, tea sugar, detergent. 

The kitchen has everything needed to cook, including a crock pot, panini maker, fondue pot, coffee grinder, water bottles to take hiking. 

I have extra blankets, pillows, throws, oscillating fans, small heaters in each bedroom.

If the guest informs me that there is a special occasion, I'll do my best to customize the gift basket. One mom requested a special ice cream for her teenage daughter. The ice cream wasn't available in any local grocery store, but Blue Bell Creamery delivered it to my local store and I filled the basket with ice cream toppings.

When a recent guest requested wheel chair friendly activities for her teenage daughter, that was somewhat challenging since most of the outdoor activities in the area involve hiking and water sports. I spent a few hours on the phone and online and compiled a list of activities. Sure, she could have done this herself, but she appreciated me going the extra mile and now I have it for anyone else that might need it.

I also have beach towels since river tubing is nearby and the cabin is dog friendly, so I leave a bag with dog treats and the water bowl is filled.

There is always a hand written, personalized note.

I enjoy making the guests feel welcome and at home and they always comment on these amenities when leaving their reviews.

Updated 5 months ago

Charging station for mobile devices

I currently have a cabin in North Georgia. I always have a gift basket with snacks, cold water in the fridge, a bottle of wine or sparkling cider. 

I live a few hours from the cabin, but if I happen to be there, I'll bake cookies for the next guest.

Charcoal and lighter fluid for the grill, hairdryers, first aid kit with itch relief ointment for bug bites, etc., umbrellas, ponchos, spices, cooking oil, coffee, tea sugar, detergent. 

The kitchen has everything needed to cook, including a crock pot, panini maker, fondue pot, coffee grinder, water bottles to take hiking. 

I have extra blankets, pillows, throws, oscillating fans, small heaters in each bedroom.

If the guest informs me that there is a special occasion, I'll do my best to customize the gift basket. One mom requested a special ice cream for her teenage daughter. The ice cream wasn't available in any local grocery store, but Blue Bell Creamery delivered it to my local store and I filled the basket with ice cream toppings.

When a recent guest requested wheel chair friendly activities for her teenage daughter, that was somewhat challenging since most of the outdoor activities in the area involve hiking and water sports. I spent a few hours on the phone and online and compiled a list of activities. Sure, she could have done this herself, but she appreciated me going the extra mile and now I have it for anyone else that might need it.

I also have beach towels since river tubing is nearby and the cabin is dog friendly, so I leave a bag with dog treats and the water bowl is filled.

There is always a hand written, personalized note.

I enjoy making the guests feel welcome and at home and they always comment on these amenities when leaving their reviews.

Call me crazy, but we don't do over the top. We are clean freaks and we inspect each home after each rental is complete, we make sure everything is maintained and working, or if it breaks during their stay, we get right on it, but I've found in our market, clean means rentals.  Adding a bag of potato chips or a gift basket wouldn't do anything to add more renters to the pot.  We are typically booked at  least a year in advance.  For repeat customers, I always give them a rate reduction and will sometimes send them a bottle of wine or something, but for the most part we keep it simple.

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