9 Mistakes Vacation Rental Hosts Make (and How to Avoid Them!)

Mistakes in STR

Vacation rental hosting is like any other business: there’s always an opportunity to learn and improve. Even successful hosts are always picking up one new tip or trick to better their listing or their guest experience. In this article we’ll talk about nine mistakes that STR hosts make and how to remedy or avoid them entirely.

1. Pricing

While being fully booked all the time may be a good thing, it may also indicate that you are underpriced. A proper price is somewhere between guests making a booking because, “that’s a steal” and “that’s too much for that place.” It can be tempting to be the lowest-priced listing in an area, but that strategy only lasts until someone comes in and undercuts your price and then you’re off on a race to the bottom. Some platforms, like Airbnb, offer their own pricing tool, but consider independent tools, like those from Airdna, particularly if you are managing multiple listings.

2. Minimum and Maximum Stays

Tied closely to the proper pricing of your listing is a minimum and maximum stay. A minimum stay makes sure that at least your costs are covered and you are making a profit, a maximum stay makes sure you aren’t giving rights to STR guests that you aren’t meaning to give. 

There are more and more guests wanting to stay for longer periods on workcations, but if you want to accommodate this type of guest, your Internet connection needs to be blazing fast and you need to have a workspace and the right furniture for that workspace figured out.

3. Furniture and Fixtures

If you’re seeing a recurring theme of looking for a Goldilocks point between two extremes, that’s no accident. A lot of STR hosting is a bit of art together with science. You don’t want to buy the most expensive furniture possible, but you also don’t want to make it look (and feel) like a listing is populated with all the castoff furniture from your own home.

While IKEA furniture has become normative in many budget listings, guests do appreciate furniture that’s slightly more comfortable or individually adapted to a space, particularly if they are staying for a while. Indeed, the furniture should be aligned with pricing and your average stay length.

4. Neglecting Local Laws

While some cities are more militant about this than others, it’s important for hosts to follow local laws regarding registering their homes, obtaining a license, or paying some kind of occupancy or visitor tax. Ideally this should be done before you even start the process of putting together a vacation rental, but if you already have one, make sure to be compliant as soon as possible. There’s nothing worse than losing an income stream just because paperwork wasn’t done.

5. Failing to Speak with Neighbors

While relationships with neighbors vary widely across the world based on culture and custom, STR hosts would do well to build bridges with their neighbors, letting them know you are an ally and giving them some way to reach you should something happen (unplanned construction) or should you need to be warned (guests are hosting an unauthorized party). You would be surprised how far a little friendliness and kindness can go.

6. Poor Communication

We’ve discussed it in various articles before, but communication is key! Make sure that you’ve either automated communication with your guest or have a way to respond to queries and concerns from your guests. Fail to communicate and watch ratings and reviews suffer.

7. Poor Images

Instagram and other programs and applications have created very high quality standards when it comes to photography. There’s a direct correlation between high-quality photos and bookings. You don’t necessarily need to hire a professional to do your photos, but you’ll never regret it.

8. No Welcome

While you may choose not to leave an amenity basket or even a handwritten welcome note, you’re not doing it right if you don’t send some kind of welcome/check-in with your guests after they arrive. This lets them know you care and that you’re there as needed during their stay. This is another way to prime guests for good reviews.

9. Doing Your Own Cleaning

While many hosts started out doing their own cleaning, over time they realized that their time could be used better elsewhere, whether that was managing more properties or simply taking care of the business of their own ordinary lives rather than changing linens and mopping floors. Use a vacation rental cleaning company (like MaidThis) to help you save time and make more money as guests respond to hotel-quality cleaning which (let’s be honest) most hosts can’t achieve.

This content originally appeared in our twice-monthly Guest Book Newsletter.

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