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Is It Worth Decorating Your Airbnb for the Holiday Season?

In our daily work making vacation rentals sparkling clean for guests, we see homes that get totally decked out for the holidays, and ones that don’t change a thing no matter what season it is.  Is it worth decorating your Airbnb?  That depends.  We’ll argue both sides below.

Team Decorate

Those who wish to create a festive atmosphere in their vacation rental know that there are people who are traveling away from home during a holiday period and may very well like to feel the mood of the season, especially if they never do so in their own homes.  They see decorations and thoughtful touches as one more positive layer to add to a guest’s experience at their home.

Depending on which holiday is being celebrated, various small things around the house can be changed:

  • Themed napkins
  • Lights
  • Elements of the season (pumpkins at Halloween, dipped pine cones at Christmas, flags at the 4th of July)
  • Additions to the welcome basket (mulled wine kit in the winter, gingerbread men at Christmas, champagne and party poppers for NYE, small fireworks for July 4th)

If you really want to go all-out we’ve seen guests put stockings over the mantle with guests’ name on them (so cool!) or wreaths on front doors (really homey).

The flipside of these fun extra touches are keeping track of what things need to be cleaned or placed well.  You’ll want to hang lights so that guests don’t easily trip on them, or make sure that you buy enough stock of items that might sell out (like those gingerbread men) so that you don’t run out halfway through the season.

Team Keep It the Same

Those who don’t want to decorate operate under the time-honored premise of “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”  They also might not want to take new photos of their space and/or change the headlines of their listing to fit the season.  

They also have the understandable concern that some people don’t go in for celebrating holidays in general or may be sensitive to particular holidays in particular.

But this also means there’s no added stress come holiday season, at least when it comes to their vacation rentals: on their side, nothing changes.  That doesn’t mean guests won’t face delays at full airports, but it does mean that when the guests arrive, they’ll find everything as they expected in reviews and pictures before.

What to Do?

As we said above, the answer to this question will depend on your listing, the location of your listing (perhaps you’re close to a famous pumpkin patch or Christmas market), and your own moods and preferences as a host.  

As cleaners, we’re always going to back you whatever you decide, but we tend to lean towards at least some subtle hints of a season, which might include lights inside/outside, seasonal cookies or teas, and snacks that show your guests that you are mindful of various seasons and wanted to make their stay that much more welcoming.

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

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Vacation Rental


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  • Automated Scheduling
  • Cleaning Report with Pictures
  • Never a No-Show. Guaranteed.
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Testimonials

At first I tried to take care of all of the cleaning process myself, and it turned out to be a bigger headache than anything else. So a friend told me about MaidThis and its been fantastic. I’ve been working with my cleaners for a few months so far. I recommend you check out the service for yourself.
Brent
Airbnb Host in LA
90+

Hours
Saved

I definitely think that as a company we've been able to make more money, not only because we're saving money by using Maid This, but also because they're helping take a few of the necessary evils with doing vacation rentals off of the property managers plate.
Laura G
Airbnb Host in LA
90+

Hours
Saved

Blog

Key Things to Know about STR Insurance

Some folks have learned the hard way that their vacation rentals are NOT covered by homeowners insurance. This is often because renting out your property constitutes a business activity, which either needs a separate policy or a rider to your standard one. But why do you need STR insurance anyway? Let’s talk about it.

What Does STR Insurance Protect Against?

Obviously vacation rental insurance is there to protect your property in case of bad behavior from a guest, or to protect a guest in case they suffer some kind of injury, or even to protect your income should something unforeseen happen. Examples include:

  • Excessive use of utilities
  • Insect or pest infestation
  • breakage/theft by guests

How is the Premium Determined?

STR Insurance is underwritten using a lot of the same fundamentals as homeowners’ insurance. Things like:

  • Location
  • Condition of the home
  • Proximity to fire stations
  • Crime rate
  • Types of materials used to build the home

A lot of your big carriers have STR insurance policies, like Allstate, Farmers, and Progressive. But you’ll also find carriers who have a real focus on this space, like Proper, Safely, and RentalGuardian.

Doesn’t Airbnb Have Coverage for Hosts?

Yes, they do, but they are at specific pains to claim that it is NOT insurance. This is for a couple reasons, including:

  1. Insurance is a highly-regulated industry and it’s not one that Airbnb currently wants to get involved in
  2. Airbnb has a policy in which it is the named beneficiary but that policy has a cap on total claims in a calendar year, allowing Airbnb to make strategic choices about what and how much it will pay out.

AirCover for Hosts does offer $1M liability coverage for bodily injury or property damage, as well as damage by guests to common areas, like lobbies. But you shouldn’t think about it as a primary insurance policy, not just because Airbnb specifically states that it isn’t one (“it is not a substitute for personal homeowner’s or liability insurance that may cover you all the time.”), but because it can’t offer the protections a regular policy might, like loss of income.

Questions to Ask

Speaking of loss of income, when getting a quote for your vacation rental(s) you need to ask how you will be compensated, specifically regarding confirmed reservations or forced vacant nights.

As with all insurance policies, you’ll also want to consider what kind of deductible you want on your policy.

Final Thoughts

You carry insurance for lots of other things that you value just for you and your loved ones. You need to extend that same level of care to your guests to protect yourself and your investment. Even if nothing ever happens, a lot of times insurance is just paying for peace of mind, and that’s worth a whole lot.

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

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Vacation Rental


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  • Automated Scheduling
  • Cleaning Report with Pictures
  • Never a No-Show. Guaranteed.
Book Now

Testimonials

At first I tried to take care of all of the cleaning process myself, and it turned out to be a bigger headache than anything else. So a friend told me about MaidThis and its been fantastic. I’ve been working with my cleaners for a few months so far. I recommend you check out the service for yourself.
Brent
Airbnb Host in LA
90+

Hours
Saved

I definitely think that as a company we've been able to make more money, not only because we're saving money by using Maid This, but also because they're helping take a few of the necessary evils with doing vacation rentals off of the property managers plate.
Laura G
Airbnb Host in LA
90+

Hours
Saved

Blog

Keyless Entry Options for Your Vacation Rental

Chances are that even if you don’t have keyless entry installed for your vacation rental (yet), you’ve used one of those systems when you’ve gone on vacation. You enjoyed using that keyless entry, but haven’t decided to implement one for yourself yet. We’ll offer a few recommendations for you, but first, let’s start with why you might go keyless.

Pros of Going Keyless

There are actually a lot of reasons to go keyless, not least of which it now becomes actually impossible to lose keys! Here are a few more:

  • Scale — As you add properties to your portfolio you won’t have to maintain an ever-expanding group of keys. In fact, you can manage all of them from a website or an app.
  • Self Check-in — Guests love the idea of being able to check in when it makes the most sense for them without having to coordinate a meeting with the host. Keyless entry makes this possible for them.
  • Safety — no more “key under the mat.” You can assign unique codes for each guest so that no one is ever in possession of a working code when their rental ends.
  • Connectivity — all good smart locks have wifi connectivity, but the really great ones also have connectivity to your property management and/or calendar management software, helping you track when guests are coming and going.

But Don’t Forget

As with any new technology, keyless entry isn’t foolproof, so make sure you keep the following two things in mind:

  1. Have a local locksmith who knows how to service your lock. If you don’t have this resource, you’re putting yourself (and your guests) into a risky situation.
  2. Have a backup. Even if you have a local locksmith sometimes a solution may not be readily available for a given problem, so it’s good to have a lockbox and traditional keys in place just in case the keyless entry malfunctions or a guest somehow loses access to the code or to the device they were using to open the door.

Our Recommendations

We defer to locksmiths, people who work at Home Depot and Lowe’s, and other subject matter experts when it comes to locks, but we also hear anecdotes from our clients and from web research and the names and brands that keep coming up are (unsurprisingly) brands that have been in the traditional lock space for a very long time. It’s a good “fit” (that was too easy) for them to get into this developing space.

Uses Bluetooth

August smart locks are award-winning and are priced in the $149-$249 range. They use bluetooth technology, allowing your guests to transform their phones into keys.

Kwikset uses the same technology though their devices start at about half the price of the base August model, around $79. But they do have some models that feature keypads as well.

Uses an App or a Keypad

Schlage locks are priced from $159-$249 and also coordinate with smart home systems. You can use the Schlage app or enter an access code on the touchscreen. If you want to get really fancy, you can use the voice-activated feature to unlock the door.

Uses a Keypad

Yale locks feature a backlit keypad as well as seamless integration with the Google Nest home automation system. Prices range from $129-$279.

Uses Fingerprint Scanners

If you really want to get Mission-Impossible-level, you can opt for models from Ultraloq ($139-$499) or Lockly ($199-$749). Both offer fingerprint identification access apart from access code or smartphone access. Lockly also features integration with Alexa and Google Assistant, allowing voice control and syncing with your home automation setup.

Final Thoughts

Remember that keyless entry isn’t a cure-all. Always be prepared for things to go wrong. But keyless entry is one of those rare upgrades you can make in vacation rental that makes things easier for all stakeholders, you, cleaners, property managers, and most importantly, guests.

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

Clean my
Vacation Rental


single-blog-sidebar-vacation-rental
  • Automated Scheduling
  • Cleaning Report with Pictures
  • Never a No-Show. Guaranteed.
Book Now

Testimonials

At first I tried to take care of all of the cleaning process myself, and it turned out to be a bigger headache than anything else. So a friend told me about MaidThis and its been fantastic. I’ve been working with my cleaners for a few months so far. I recommend you check out the service for yourself.
Brent
Airbnb Host in LA
90+

Hours
Saved

I definitely think that as a company we've been able to make more money, not only because we're saving money by using Maid This, but also because they're helping take a few of the necessary evils with doing vacation rentals off of the property managers plate.
Laura G
Airbnb Host in LA
90+

Hours
Saved

Blog

Basic Amenities for Your Vacation Rental

Vacation rentals come in all shapes and sizes and so what might be considered a “basic” amenity for a mountain lodge (jacuzzi) would be an amazing luxury in a city loft or tiny home. But no matter the type of vacation rental guests are looking for, there are some basics that all hosts should have in place to help ensure strong reviews. Let’s talk about them!

Strong Wifi

Face it, nobody says, “that place I stayed at had Internet that was WAY too fast.” As consumers we expect to get onto the Internet without too much friction and for it to have very high speeds all the time.

While it might be tempting to realize some savings by opting for an Internet plan for your vacation rental that’s “good enough” you’re opening yourself up to complaints that may make their way into reviews.

Have strong Internet speeds coming into your router and make sure that signal throughout the property is acceptable.

Power Strips

Just as we have more and more expectations of great Internet speed, we also need plug-in spots for our devices when we decide to camp out in a spot. Those might be near a kitchen table or bar, or next to the couch or bed, or even outside a deck. Have a power strip handy so that people can plug in multiple devices and not have to decide which device will have to wait it’s turn to get charged.

Bathroom Basics

You don’t need to have a full layout of spa amenities, but do have shampoo, conditioner, body wash, and a basic moisturizing lotion on hand. A hair dryer is also key.

Kitchen Basics

You should have enough plates and bowls and utensils for the number of guests who can stay. That is, you can’t only have two bowls and plates if up to four guests can stay at your place. Have enough dishes and flatware for your guests, and then some.

You should also have great pots and pans and knives. They don’t need to be Top Chef ready, but they shouldn’t look like something you bought at a garage sale yesterday. Periodically check to make sure your knives are sharp and these pots and pans still look ready to use.

Also make sure you have things like corkscrews, bottle openers, pizza slicers, and can openers on hand, with backups!

Finally, don’t forget salt and pepper!

Hot and Cold

Some locations necessitate air conditioning and heating, while other listings are in climates where a fan or space heater would do. If your listing is in a milder climate make sure you have those fans or space heaters on hand for guests to use if they want.

First Aid

You never want guests to hurt themselves, but you do want them to have supplies should they need to put a small bandaid on a cut or put some lotion on a mosquito bite. 

Have a first aid kit clearly marked in your home guide so guests know where to find it. Consider having it near a fire extinguisher as well.

Office Supplies

More and more people are taking “workcations” as remote work has become more and more common. So apart from having a flat area someone could use as a working surface, consider having basics like a stapler, scotch tape, pens, and paper handy.

Coffee

We’re all familiar with the “but first, coffee” t-shirts, so why are we putting this last in our list? Because most vacation rentals have a coffee solution in place, but we would encourage you to consider having more than one option available.

If you have a traditional drip coffee maker, make sure that you have a solid supply of filters.

Consider a single-use machine like a Nespresso, but also the more “manual” single-use alternatives, like a French press or a traditional Italian Moka pot. If you want to get really fancy with your coffee you could have a Chemex on hand for those who want to do their own pour-overs.

So there you have it. These basic amenities will not just put a smile on your guests’ faces, but those smiles will end up in reviews of your property, which will translate to more revenue in your pockets.

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

Clean my
Vacation Rental


single-blog-sidebar-vacation-rental
  • Automated Scheduling
  • Cleaning Report with Pictures
  • Never a No-Show. Guaranteed.
Book Now

Testimonials

At first I tried to take care of all of the cleaning process myself, and it turned out to be a bigger headache than anything else. So a friend told me about MaidThis and its been fantastic. I’ve been working with my cleaners for a few months so far. I recommend you check out the service for yourself.
Brent
Airbnb Host in LA
90+

Hours
Saved

I definitely think that as a company we've been able to make more money, not only because we're saving money by using Maid This, but also because they're helping take a few of the necessary evils with doing vacation rentals off of the property managers plate.
Laura G
Airbnb Host in LA
90+

Hours
Saved

Blog

Adding Airbnb Experience Revenue Streams

We’ve talked before about Airbnb Experiences and how it’s something hosts might consider to add more monthly recurring revenue. Today we’ll talk a little bit more about how you might go about designing one of these.

How It’s Going

In 2018 Airbnb kicked off their Experiences product with over 3,000 experiences in 40 cities. Today, those number 50,000 in over 1000 cities. Clearly, people like the idea of a local showing them around and are willing to pay: average ticket price of an experience is $55.

Categories to Consider

While Food and Drink remains the favorite among guests (almost ⅓ of all Experiences bookings), there are all sorts of possibilities you might consider, based on your passions or things you are already doing informally for friends and family but may never have considered packaging together for guests.

Think about:

  • Arts and crafts (painting, creating something)
  • Concerts/music (you don’t have to be the musician: perhaps your home can be an intimate occasional venue)
  • Classes/workshops (the platform offers everything from beekeeping to beermaking to coffee roasting…possibilities are endless)
  • Nature (more than just taking people for a walk in the park…though that’s helpful too…it’s a chance for people to be social while enjoying nature)
  • Sports (capitalize on trends and novelty like pickleball or Ultimate Frisbee)
  • Food and Drink (think food tours or wine tastings or intimate private dinners)
  • History (local history is some of the hardest to come by, and hence very appealing)
  • Entertainment (stand-up, spoken word, plays)
  • Social impact (give guests a chance to learn about — and help — a local cause or charity)
  • Nightlife (use your knowledge to take people on a pubcrawl they’ll really remember)

Don’t be afraid to combine categories…the more unusual the experience the more it can stand out from the “same old same old.” Free idea? Shopping at a farmer’s market to make your own picnic which you get to eat after a nice hike. Check the food and drink, workshop, and nature boxes all at once!

What You’ll Need

Now that you’ve had a chance to brainstorm, here’s what you’ll need to launch your experience:

  1. A catchy title (use the same wordsmith skills you put into your vacation rental listing title)
  2. A detailed description of what you’ll do with guests (spell this out…there’s no such thing as “too detailed” here)
  3. Minimum age of guests and skill level needed to participate
  4. Maximum group size
  5. The location of the Experience (be clear on the meeting point so as not to lose time trying to find people)
  6. How long the Experience will last
  7. What guests should bring (if anything)
  8. High-quality photos of people on the Experience (this means you’ll need to take some friends and family on some beta version experiences to grab these photos)
  9. Price!

Remember, just as with your vacation rental listing, you don’t have to run your Experience every single day of the week. Maybe you only want to do it on weekends or Wednesday nights. You choose, and as you learn what to tweak from guests who give you feedback, you’ll have added one more revenue stream to your vacation rental.

This is to say nothing of the virtuous circle between Experiences and Hosting. People who come on your Experiences can find out about your vacation rentals (nothing to stop you from giving them a card or other info) and those guests who have already booked your vacation rental are an endless stream of potential customers for your Experiences.

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

Clean my
Vacation Rental


single-blog-sidebar-vacation-rental
  • Automated Scheduling
  • Cleaning Report with Pictures
  • Never a No-Show. Guaranteed.
Book Now

Testimonials

At first I tried to take care of all of the cleaning process myself, and it turned out to be a bigger headache than anything else. So a friend told me about MaidThis and its been fantastic. I’ve been working with my cleaners for a few months so far. I recommend you check out the service for yourself.
Brent
Airbnb Host in LA
90+

Hours
Saved

I definitely think that as a company we've been able to make more money, not only because we're saving money by using Maid This, but also because they're helping take a few of the necessary evils with doing vacation rentals off of the property managers plate.
Laura G
Airbnb Host in LA
90+

Hours
Saved

Blog

Knock Out a Deep Clean This Fall

Of course everybody associates “deep cleans” with “spring cleaning” but there’s no need to burden one particular season with deep cleaning, and if you do a deep clean in the Fall, it means the one in the Spring won’t be as bad.  While every listing has its own particular nooks and crannies, we wanted to offer some general things to keep in mind as you put together a deep clean this Fall, starting with the places that get the most attention from guests when it comes to cleanliness.

Kitchen

While our MaidThis cleaners love to deliver that hotel-clean look for every part of the house, including the kitchen, there are spots you simply can’t get to on every single regular turnovers.  Think of:

  • Underneath the fridge and/or freezer (moving it out of its regular position and mopping and cleaning underneath)
  • Crumbs inside the toaster (not just wiping down the outside but emptying the toaster of all those crumbs)
  • Descaling a hot water kettle (this can build up slowly or quickly depending on the water in your location)

In general you need to think about every place that dust, dirt, or crumbs can gather and send them packing.  This includes drawers and cupboards, as well as the oven, hood, and microwave.  Think about power washing the bottom of any trash cans you have.

Also make sure to give away/throw away food.  While it’s good to leave some left-behind pasta or some canned goods for the next guest, at some point it looks messy and odd.  If you don’t need or want what’s left, donate them to a local food bank.  There are people who will use them.

Bathroom

The bathroom offers targeted cleaning: there aren’t as many appliances here as in the kitchen.  You’ll want to:

  • Clean the exhaust fan
  • Dust the cupboards
  • Clean the shower caddy, if you have one
  • Scrub those tiles, particularly the grout

Pro tip: Use a blacklight near your toilet to see if there’s any spots you missed.

Other Areas

What’s the enemy of a clean listing that just keeps accumulating over time?  Dust.  It’s everywhere.  Here are just a few places you want to look:

  • Frames
  • Ceiling fans
  • The tops of shelves
  • Light fixtures and lamps
  • Window sills

Look for marks on walls and/or doors and hit them with sugar soap or magic erasers.

As you did with the fridge in the kitchen, move furniture, beds, shelves and vacuum/mop underneath.

Scrub those hard to reach corners and send those cobwebs packing!

Outside

If you have a deck, this should be power washed when appropriate.

Any furniture, gutters, mats, or fly screens should also get your attention.  Fly screens can have their edges brushed with a dustpan brush.

As with inside, make sure to target those cobwebs as well.  

Part of why MaidThis exists is the fact that guests so value a clean listing.  It’s one of the very first things on their mind when they step into your place.  Knocking out a deep clean this Fall is only going to make your listing shine that much more, and ensure great reviews and with those great reviews, strong revenue.

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

Clean my
Vacation Rental


single-blog-sidebar-vacation-rental
  • Automated Scheduling
  • Cleaning Report with Pictures
  • Never a No-Show. Guaranteed.
Book Now

Testimonials

At first I tried to take care of all of the cleaning process myself, and it turned out to be a bigger headache than anything else. So a friend told me about MaidThis and its been fantastic. I’ve been working with my cleaners for a few months so far. I recommend you check out the service for yourself.
Brent
Airbnb Host in LA
90+

Hours
Saved

I definitely think that as a company we've been able to make more money, not only because we're saving money by using Maid This, but also because they're helping take a few of the necessary evils with doing vacation rentals off of the property managers plate.
Laura G
Airbnb Host in LA
90+

Hours
Saved

Blog

Keywords You Need in Your Vacation Rental Listing

We all understand the power of keywords. We use them all the time whether we are researching, buying, or just trying to settle an argument about who’s right about which guy was in that one movie. Put those instincts to good use by optimizing the keywords you use in your vacation rental listing.

Every listing is different, but we will offer a variety of types of keywords you can use to make sure your listing shows up at the top of the results, giving you a better chance to win the business.

Location Location Location

If you’ve got a great location, flaunt it. This can be for the city or the country crowd.

City Keywords

Think “downtown” generically, or if your location is even more specific and known, even better. Think “Upper East Side” or “Gaslamp” or “Lafayette Park.”

Country Keywords

The same applies to the country, general is good, like “creek” or “river” or “lake” or “beach” but if you’ve got a more specific one, even better. Examples include “Lake Michigan” or “Corona del Mar beachfront,” etc.

Type of Building

Airbnb has recently launched a new version of their app that really leans into the luxurious as well as the quirky and unusual. If you happen to have a castle or submarine or treehouse or tiny home or Airstream, you’d be foolish not to flaunt it.

But for those who don’t have those (awesome) possibilities, simple ones like “cabin” or “historic” or “traditional” or even “condo” will do. 

Notice that in all these cases we are helping users with specific needs find your specific place.

Qualities

Is your place “cozy” or “minimalist” or “quiet” or “calm”?

Is it “great for workers” or “perfect for digital nomads”?

If your place is seasonal, make sure you’re using “summer” or “winter” or “great for fall colors.”

Amenities

If you’re “pet friendly” or “family friendly” you’re really missing out if this isn’t mentioned in the title of your listing. 

If you have a pool, jacuzzi, or sauna, particularly if it’s for private use, don’t miss a chance to brag about that.

Time Stays

If you prefer people to stay “weekly” or “monthly” that’s worth mentioning as well, or even “long stay” if you’re open to customized arrangements.

Beware

Avoid overused words like “amazing” and “spectacular.” If your listing has specifically what the guest is looking for, they will use words like that when writing a review for you.

Remember that hotels and companies spend a crazy amount of money to optimize keywords for their listings, but you’re not having to manage tens of thousands of properties, and you can use your on-the-ground knowledge to make these keywords not just authentic, but ones that will win you more guests and more revenue.

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

Clean my
Vacation Rental


single-blog-sidebar-vacation-rental
  • Automated Scheduling
  • Cleaning Report with Pictures
  • Never a No-Show. Guaranteed.
Book Now

Testimonials

At first I tried to take care of all of the cleaning process myself, and it turned out to be a bigger headache than anything else. So a friend told me about MaidThis and its been fantastic. I’ve been working with my cleaners for a few months so far. I recommend you check out the service for yourself.
Brent
Airbnb Host in LA
90+

Hours
Saved

I definitely think that as a company we've been able to make more money, not only because we're saving money by using Maid This, but also because they're helping take a few of the necessary evils with doing vacation rentals off of the property managers plate.
Laura G
Airbnb Host in LA
90+

Hours
Saved

Blog

How to Talk to Your Landlord about STR

Vacation rentals and the STR space are an exciting way to make money. But if you don’t handle the legal side of this side hustle/business, you could find yourself in trouble, fast, and worse, no longer receiving that income. One of the most important legal hurdles to overcome for those who don’t own a property but want to use it for Airbnb or other platforms is permission from the landlord.

Local Laws and Lease

But before you even have that conversation, you need to make sure that vacation rentals are legal in your municipality, and under what conditions. 

You also need to make sure such a possibility isn’t already excluded in your lease, by such a clause, for example:

 “Tenant shall not sublet all or any part of the premises 

without Landlord’s prior written consent.”

If the local laws don’t prohibit you from hosting, and your lease doesn’t have such a clause (or something close to it) you can move to the next step. Even if there is a specific exclusion, you can still move to the next step as part of a persuasive case for your landlord to give prior written consent. 

This is not a “better to ask forgiveness than permission” situation. Do not start hosting a vacation rental until you’ve cleared it with your landlord.

Prepare for Communication

Ideally, you’ve got a pre-existing relationship with your landlord beyond simply paying rent. This doesn’t mean that you are necessarily best friends and hanging out all the time, just that you occasionally have communication about the property and have worked together on solutions before. If you don’t have a relationship already, that’s okay, you just need to anticipate possible concerns.

Remember that a landlord likes having rent paid on-time with no complaints and no damages. You’ve got the rent part handled, so how to deal with complaints?

Regarding complaints, get buy-in from your neighbors. Make sure they are okay with having guests come and go. They can be real allies or enemies in this process so don’t neglect to have those conversations. Let them know why you are hoping to host and the type of guest you plan to have.

Regarding damages, look to the various platforms you are using, like Airbnb or VRBO and find out what their coverages are for damages. Also check your renter’s insurance to make sure there isn’t a specific exclusion for vacation rental.

Proposal

Once you’ve got all your information together, local laws and lease, input from neighbors, insurance information, you’re ready to present to your landlord.

This doesn’t need to be a Powerpoint presentation in a rented office space. Whatever the pre-existing relationship might be, this could be as simple as an email or phone call or even an in-person meeting. What is key is conveying that you’ve thought through possibilities and want to make sure the landlord is satisfied.

If your landlord accepts, great

If the answer is a no, ask if there are any circumstances that would change that. If you still get a no, then that’s the end of the line for pursuing a STR.

But if the answer is a “maybe, if,” you’re probably going to get follow-up questions that will help to mitigate risk. This can include:

  • Maximum stay lengths
  • Number of stays per month limits
  • Limits on pets
  • A particular screening process

Think about the answers to these questions before your conversation so you can look prepared.

If they continue to waver, and if you’ve calculated that it can still make sense, consider offering some form of profit-sharing. Yes, you are doing almost all the work, but it is the landlord’s property after all. It’s not the craziest thing for he/she to ask for some residual income as part of the new increased risk you are adding by opening a STR.

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

Clean my
Vacation Rental


single-blog-sidebar-vacation-rental
  • Automated Scheduling
  • Cleaning Report with Pictures
  • Never a No-Show. Guaranteed.
Book Now

Testimonials

At first I tried to take care of all of the cleaning process myself, and it turned out to be a bigger headache than anything else. So a friend told me about MaidThis and its been fantastic. I’ve been working with my cleaners for a few months so far. I recommend you check out the service for yourself.
Brent
Airbnb Host in LA
90+

Hours
Saved

I definitely think that as a company we've been able to make more money, not only because we're saving money by using Maid This, but also because they're helping take a few of the necessary evils with doing vacation rentals off of the property managers plate.
Laura G
Airbnb Host in LA
90+

Hours
Saved

Blog

Best Practices for Dealing With Nightmare Vacation Rental Scenarios

No one wants to deal with nightmare vacation rental scenarios and one of the best ways to avoid being part of one of these nightmares is to prepare appropriately. In this article we’ll share some best practices to keep these nightmares as far away from you as possible.

Last-minute Cancellation

While this might not be the first “nightmare” scenario you would think of, imagine if it’s the peak of the season for one of your listings and this guest had a large block of nights booked and then canceled at the last minute.

Prepare: while some properties have enough demand that shortly after a cancellation, a new booking fills that hole, other properties don’t have that high level of demand and as such may just experience a big income loss on a last-minute cancellation. Weigh the demand for your listing(s) against a strict cancellation policy that makes it difficult for a guest to get a full refund. As long as you have a policy in place that makes sense for you and your listing(s) this nightmare won’t catch you unprepared.

Mistaken Identity

A guest shows up who is not the person who made the booking and this was not known or approved of before check-in.

Prepare: the review system exists to be a significant safeguard for hosts, serving as an ongoing record for comfort and security. When someone shows up who isn’t in that review system, hosts lose that feeling of comfort and security.

Best practice: if you find out about this before the check-in, and the actual guest isn’t willing to make the booking in his/her name, cancel the booking and notify the platform. If you find out at check-in, refuse check-in. 

Note: if you have an automated contactless check-in process, this is a risk you are exposed to without any additional safeguards.

Major Weather Event

A serious weather event for your area threatens the safety of everyone.

Prepare: have policies in place in your house manual that explain what you will do in case of severe weather.

Best practice: if there is a severe weather event or even a reliable warning of an incoming one, cancel the reservation. Safety comes before the possibility of a bad review. 

If guests are already on their way or caught up in the event, do what you can to help them, either by helping to notify the platform or make calls on their behalf, and let your platform know, as they may have alternatives set up for these types of situations.

Party Time

This is the nightmare most-often seen on television news stories: guests use rentals from everything to parties to pop-up drug dens or brothels.

Prepare: as we mentioned already, you should have a screening process in place in which you look at the most recent reviews of a guest. Additionally, beware of any single-night bookings, particularly on a weekend.

You can also install exterior security camera footage tied into an action plan that involves calling law enforcement, etc.

As already noted, you should have policies on parties, etc. strictly spelled out in your home description and manual, along with consequences for violations of those policies.

Fake Bedbugs

A common scam we hear about is a guest demanding a refund after checking out, citing a pest infestation. They want a full refund or they will report you to the platform (oooohhh, scary!)

Prepare: let guests know that they need to alert you to any problems either on check-in or as they occur during their stay. 

It doesn’t make sense for every listing, but if you are in a geographic region that has a reputation for pests, you might consider a periodic fumigation. A copy of the most recent certification will be handy to have should any claim be made against you.

Best practice: make sure you or your cleaners take photos of anything out of the ordinary at checkout. Our MaidThis cleaners always do!

The bottom line is that you can’t prevent bad things from ever happening to you or your listing(s), but you’ll find that preparation for these scenarios preempt many of them from happening, and the best practices we suggest can tactically minimize their impact if they do.

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

Clean my
Vacation Rental


single-blog-sidebar-vacation-rental
  • Automated Scheduling
  • Cleaning Report with Pictures
  • Never a No-Show. Guaranteed.
Book Now

Testimonials

At first I tried to take care of all of the cleaning process myself, and it turned out to be a bigger headache than anything else. So a friend told me about MaidThis and its been fantastic. I’ve been working with my cleaners for a few months so far. I recommend you check out the service for yourself.
Brent
Airbnb Host in LA
90+

Hours
Saved

I definitely think that as a company we've been able to make more money, not only because we're saving money by using Maid This, but also because they're helping take a few of the necessary evils with doing vacation rentals off of the property managers plate.
Laura G
Airbnb Host in LA
90+

Hours
Saved

Blog

Should You Automate Your Vacation Rental Messaging?

Here at MaidThis we are advocates for automating at least one part of your vacation rental process: cleaning. Automations in personal and professional matters often make things that much easier. But should you automate your vacation rental messaging?  Let’s talk about it.

Team Yes

Well, automation is definitely more efficient.  There’s no manual step that has to be done and much of the information that guests are going to ask for can be put into messages that are dripped out over their visit or are shared at once.  Without having to manually send messages, owners and managers are free to focus on other things.

Team No

We know that cleanliness (cough, cough) is a major factor in driving reviews, but not far behind is how the guest is made to feel welcome.  Automated messages, especially ones that are obviously cookie-cutter, can make a guest feel like a cog in a machine.  While such messages would rarely, if ever, act as a negative influence, they can sometimes have a neutral effect.

Team Hybrid

A combination of the best of both worlds would be a set of automated messages, some of which can be customized with a sentence or two.  That makes this a semi-manual process, but you will be able to reap the benefit of some automation while also making the guest feel special and welcomed.

Which Messages to Automate

There are many types of messages you could automate, but there are four that we think should not be missed:

  1. Check in / Check out — a check in message can be sent after a reservation has been confirmed and can offer key information on how to get in, as well as a link to a house manual with even more detailed information. A check out message can be sent 24 hours before checkout to make sure guests are informed how to leave your property and any tasks they need to complete.  In both of these cases a single sentence or two can be added to whatever the automated message is. That single sentence can use information from the guest’s profile, commenting on where they live, or in the case of a sparser profile, asking where they are traveling from. This shows that you, as a host, are engaged, and don’t simply see this as the equivalent of a hotel.
  2. Welcome! — this message should be sent after the check in time and should offer anything very timely that wouldn’t appear in a house manual.  This can include weather forecasts (and your advice on what to do) or a festival or special event that might be happening during their stay.
  3. How’s it going? — However long your guests are staying, this message can be sent a third or halfway through their visits.  Many times guests will ignore this or simply say, “All is well” or something equivalent. But every now and then they will ask a question which gives you an opportunity to be helpful and hospitable!
  4. Please leave a review — while platforms are pretty good at getting their guests to leave reviews, a plea from a host, especially if the guest had a good experience, is likely to lead to quick action.

In addition to these four messages, it’s often handy to have pre-scripted messages that answer FAQs like:

  • What’s the Wifi password? (they may have missed it in your house manual or checkin instructions)
  • How does the hot tub work?
  • How does the oven/TV work?

Final Thoughts

So to answer our original question, should you automate your messaging, our answer is, yes, mostly.  Have pre-scripted messaging ready to go at certain times, but take care to personalize those messages, particularly at check in or checkout.  It’s little touches like these that lead to more guests and more revenue.

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

Clean my
Vacation Rental


single-blog-sidebar-vacation-rental
  • Automated Scheduling
  • Cleaning Report with Pictures
  • Never a No-Show. Guaranteed.
Book Now

Testimonials

At first I tried to take care of all of the cleaning process myself, and it turned out to be a bigger headache than anything else. So a friend told me about MaidThis and its been fantastic. I’ve been working with my cleaners for a few months so far. I recommend you check out the service for yourself.
Brent
Airbnb Host in LA
90+

Hours
Saved

I definitely think that as a company we've been able to make more money, not only because we're saving money by using Maid This, but also because they're helping take a few of the necessary evils with doing vacation rentals off of the property managers plate.
Laura G
Airbnb Host in LA
90+

Hours
Saved