I just got back from a family reunion. There are a LOT of us, and we were ecstatic to find a home that would fit us all. We rented a 15-bedroom home that sleeps 65. It’s a good thing some of us couldn’t make it!
I mention the size of the home and the size of my family for a few reasons. A smaller home won’t necessarily face these issues.
Repeat business is the Holy Grail of vacation rentals. The guests have already stayed with you, and it’s a safe bet that if they took care of it the first time, they’ll do the same the next time they stay with you.
If they didn’t like the home the first time, there is a 0% chance they’ll be back. I’ve got 7 things I’d love to tell the woman who owned the house I stayed in, but I didn’t make the reservations and I don’t have her contact information. So I’ll tell you instead. If you know someone who has a ginormous rental property in a Southern state, share this with her.
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Consider Maximum Capacity
The home we rented was enormous, but had two of the tiniest refrigerators I’ve ever seen. You know, the kind that you stick in a one-bedroom rental? Sixty-five people will eat considerably more food than five people. If we hadn’t had multiple coolers, this would have been woefully inadequate. Actually, even though we HAD multiple coolers, this was woefully inadequate. If you can sleep 65, make sure you have enough of everything for 65 people.
Bedding probably doesn’t need to be more than one or two extra sets in each size, in case of small children having accidents in the middle of the night. But towels? Yes, please. There were not 65 towels in this whole house. PLUS they had a pool! I don’t mind using the same towel to dry off as my husband, but I’d like my own towel for the shower, thank you very much.
This home had a ridiculous amount of storage space. Closets everywhere, plus extra shelving units with games and books, and cabinets for storing extra pillows. We didn’t hide how many people were coming, although we didn’t have an absolutely accurate count because there are just so darn many of us. We erred on the side of caution and said 65. There should have been at LEAST 100 towels in the home for an entire weekend.
Stock the Kitchen
This kitchen had tons of plates and bowls, but only about 20 glasses and coffee cups. Lots of silverware and serving utensils, but only two regular-sized coffee pots. We’re a coffee-drinking family. There were easily 25 of us who drank coffee each morning.
While it was nice to have ample plates and silverware, we had to go purchase plastic cups to drink out of.
There were no spices or kitchen staples, either — not even salt and pepper! Many vacation rentals will have leftover staples like oil, sugar, and somehow always pancake mix and coffee filters from past guests. This kitchen looked as if it had been stripped of these items.
Mixing bowls, a knife sharpener, and serving dishes would have made meal prep and meal time a lot easier.
Make Clean Up Easy
This giant house also had exactly one dishwasher. They had plates for 65 people, but that dishwasher ran nonstop while we were there. Another dishwasher would have been a HUGE help.
I find that most vacation renters want to leave the property clean. They want their security deposit back, but they also understand that you are probably renting it out again that night. Make it EASY for them to leave it clean. Provide paper towels and have a bottle of cleanser under the cabinet. No, they probably aren’t going to clean it like THAT, but they certainly won’t if you don’t give them the supplies.
And for the love of all that is holy in the world, give them dish soap! Dishwasher packs, liquid soap, a sponge or dishwashing implement of some type.
Consider Your Location
This home was halfway up a mountain, but near a tourist attraction. There were food stores available, but you had to drive down a treacherous, winding mountain road to get there. Ample refrigerator space would have prevented us from driving down the mountain so many times.
Inform in Advance of Any Unusual Policies
As you can probably figure out from my clues above, this property did not supply dish soap or paper towels. Guess what this property also didn’t supply? Extra toilet paper.
They provide one roll for each bathroom, and after that, you’re on your own. Do you know when they informed us of this policy? When they gave us a copy of the contract, at check-in.
Now, my beef with this policy is mostly the timing with which they informed us. This is an unusual policy. In fact, I’ve only encountered it at one other resort, where I was also uninformed until check-in. I think this is a stupid policy, as you expect things like toilet paper to be at the place you are renting. In fact, this isn’t even a question you consider asking when you make the reservation.
“And do you provide toilet paper or should I bring my own?”
I have never asked that when making a reservation. Not once. So if you have an unusual policy or something that may cause even a modicum of inconvenience, spell it out in advance. And don’t trust the guest to read it. Tell them about it!
Don’t Forget About Your Youngest Guests
I am a mom and have two young children. Plastic plates and glasses would have been well received. I don’t want to break your dishes. I certainly don’t want to buy you new ones. My kids are kids, and kids drop things. It’s part of their charm (or so I keep reminding myself).
Having child-friendly dishware is only the start. Games, movies, books, toys, and even a child’s potty seat would be such a nice touch. Bed rails to keep them from falling out of the bed would be nice, but a pool noodle works pretty well, too. Tuck it under the fitted sheet to keep little ones from rolling off. Store under the bed and share the location with your guests.
Make Them Want to Come Back Again
While these tips are geared toward people with larger-capacity properties, there are plenty that can be applied to any vacation rental. Try to anticipate your guest’s needs. Mentally go through your friends and family, and see what they might need — or better yet, ask them what they want in a vacation rental. If you don’t have kids, you might not know that small plastic cups are a huge help. It may not even occur to you to have kid-friendly books and toys.
Once a guest has stayed with you, send them a thank you card, and ask about their stay. Offer a discount for a repeat stay, and ask if they have plans to come back to the area so you can check your calendar.
What do you do for your vacation rentals to anticipate guests needs or entice them to return?
Let’s chat in the comments section below.