9 Ways to Update Your Vacation Rental for Millennial Travelers

by | BiggerPockets.com

Odds are, your vacation rental features haven’t changed much in the past 20 years. Well, your guest demographics have. According to a recent AARP study, Millennials will take significantly more trips in 2017 than GenXers or Baby Boomers. They’re also more likely to book a weekend trip. The Millennials are coming. Updating your home to make their stay more comfortable can give you the leg up on the competition.

To find out what Millennials want in their vacation rentals, we surveyed the Millennial vacation rental aficionados here—which is to say most of the people in our 300+ person office. It’s not a perfect study, but the folks we surveyed regularly book vacation homes for work and fun. In fact, the Millennials we spoke to are so passionate about staying at vacation rentals that they have a Slack channel dedicated to sharing their favorite homes.

According to our team, these are the features that make all the difference when marketing your vacation home to Millennials.

9 Ways to Update Your Vacation Rental for Millennial Travelers

1. Lightning-Fast WiFi

Speedy wifi is a top selling point for Millennials. Invest in better bandwidth and bask in the glory of positive reviews and a full calendar.

2. Smart Devices

Millennials may be the first generation to actually hate your VHS tapes. Treat them to a streaming media device so they can watch their own collections. (And remember that fancy HDTV you advertise is just a big-screen disappointment if paired with an SD player.)

3. Instagram-Worthy Spaces

Increasingly, spaces are being designed with Instagram in mind. If a room in your home gets fantastic natural light, set it up for memorable guest photos. Bright colors and big contrast make all the difference.

4. Relevant Games

Your Trivial Pursuit Genus Edition from 1981 isn’t helping you woo Millennials. Try refreshing your game selection with newer favorites like Apples to Apples or Cards Against Humanity.

5. Chef’s Kitchen

Millennials are less likely to be homeowners, but more likely to boast kitchens with chef-level accoutrements. Help them feel at home by upgrading your knives, blender, and pots and pans.

6. Convenient Outlets

Nothing frustrates our Millennials more than having to get out of bed to access their devices. Install USB-enabled outlets near all beds and common areas.

7. The Right Sound

Millennials value modern convenience and classic vibes. Install Bluetooth speakers and invest in a record player and a library of timeless vinyl. Don’t forget the Coltrane.

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8. Coffee is King

Your coffee maker is a “meh” for Millennials. Top off your listing with a French press or aeropress—or go all-out with an espresso machine to maximize bookings from the most sophisticated coffee generation yet.

9. Kid Toys for Adults

They say Millennials never want to grow up. We say they just know how to have fun. Invest in some adult-sized kid toys like unexpected pool floats, sleds, and beach balls. A couple of fidget spinners doesn’t hurt either.

Branding your vacation home for Millennials opens the door to the next generation of travelers. Nearly 60% of Millennials are active on Instagram, and almost all of them (89%) are active on Facebook. If you make the right updates and show your Millennial guests a good time, they’re likely to take to social media and help do some marketing for you.

How do you tweak your marketing to cater to the Millennial audience?

Let me know with a comment!

About Author

Cliff Johnson

In 2009, Cliff Johnson cofounded Vacasa, a technology-enabled vacation rental management firm that has since been named one of the fastest-growing private companies in the nation. Today, Cliff oversees investor partnerships, organic growth and sales, and international development as the company's chief development officer. Not only does Cliff personally invest in vacation rentals, but he also works with real estate investors across the country to identify and set up lucrative vacation rental opportunities backed by the Vacasa guarantee. Cliff is also a member in good standing of the Colorado and California State Bars, serves as a board member for MAPLE Microdevelopment, and is a board member for the Vacation Rental Managers Association (VRMA).

8 Comments

  1. John Underwood

    Right now I am maximizing my rental income on my VRBO by renting more to the Baby Boomer crowd. I do already have many of the things you list and will consider others for future improvements.
    It seems more of the Millennials are using AirBnb and they seem to be more budget conscious because I don’t get many rental on AirBNB unless I discount my running prices that I have on Homeaway.com
    Thanks for the article.

  2. Cody Hannaford

    Excellent list, Cliff!

    I just recently came back from a weekend get away, and as a millennial I have to admit, many of the things you listed would have made the entire experience that much more memorable for me, and would have guaranteed a repeat stay.

    Things like Bluetooth speakers and a Google Chromecast (or similar) in the TV, are not only incredibly convenient, but they are also CHEAP! If you are already providing your guests with (fuzzy) cable TV, skip the bill. Pay the one time $40 (relative to your location) cost of a streaming device, and let your guests use their own Netflix subscription. They are already paying for it, and likely in the middle of a series 🙂 Hotels are especially falling behind in this area, and I predict you will see many attempting to appeal to the millennial crowd in an effort to combat the ever growing prominence of AirBnB.

    While I agree with most of the things listed, a few of the ideas feel a bit over the top and like forced pandering. Remember the reaction when Hilary Clinton said she carried Hot Sauce in her purse at all times? Not a good look. Things like “a record player and a library of timeless vinyl” are 1) Expensive, and 2) Will go completely unused by most of your guests. You cannot compete with the unlimited, personalized library of of music that most (75%) of millennials already have access to in the palm of their hands. Once again, skip the bill, let me use my Spotify subscription. I supply the playlists, you supply the speakers. On the topic of forced pandering, don’t even get me started on fidget spinners. (An idea that is ALREADY feeling outdated and out of touch.)

    Keep it simple, keep it convenient. Most of the ideas listed here are great additions for every guest. The last thing you want is to alienate any of your guests by making them feel like they are staying in a kids play room. Who doesn’t like coffee and Netflix these days?

    Cody

    • Cliff Johnson

      Thanks for the great feedback, Cody! Apologies if any of this sounded like generational stereotyping. I tried my best to avoid that by getting these answers straight from the Millennials in our office. The whole story actually sparked an interesting conversation in our office about what West Coast Millennials want vs what the East Coast Millennials valued. Vacasa being headquartered in Portland, a lot of the team’s answers included a distinct Portland vibe, including things like supplying SPF 40 for Millennials with tattoos… We tried to shave it down and balance the list as much as possible while still having some fun with it. If you think of anything else to add to the list, please share in the comments! Most of these seem like basic upgrades but doing them (and advertising them on unit description pages) really can help increase bookings. Again, I appreciate your comment! Everything you said makes total sense. Thanks Cody.

    • Naren Gunasekera

      Love the idea of the chromecast and bluetooth speakers. I would agree that the vinyl is overkill. Also would be hard to monitor damage to an expensive asset. I also think that old classic board games like Monopoly, Jenga and others would go down well if groups are renting your property.

  3. Ben Raygor

    Great post Cliff. My brother and I just discussed vacation rentals the other day. I’d say that most of your points in the article should be requirements for every vacation rental owner to seriously consider. How smart would it be if every owner did a walkthrough of their property WITH people from 2 or 3 different generations and asked them what they think? “Vet your vacation rentals!” should probably be a saying. They require more work and should produce more net income than your typical rental, so owners should definitely be asking for input along the way.

  4. What about decor for millenials? I’d like to see an article about that. I’m a baby boomer and I’m perplexed by the carpet/furniture/drapery choices that young people are making. Since when did everything have to have a trellis pattern on it? Yecch. It seems like they want everything to be grey, beige, black or white. How boring is that? Also, from perusing websites like Restoration Hardware and CB2, I think that very plain, or none, curtains are called for these days. Maybe just a roller shade for room darkening in bedrooms?

    • Cliff Johnson

      You read our minds, Laurel! Our interior design team is passionate about crafting spaces for the biggest impact. They will be doing a presentation / happy hour at our Portland HQ on September 20th if you’re in town. I believe the event starts at 6pm. I bet they’d be very interested in working with me on a post about the topic. Thanks for the good idea!

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