Let’s rent out our vacation home….

lets-rent-out_our_vacation_rental_propertyAs part of my day job as an agency owner, I regularly view vacation homes and continue to be surprised by the perceptions of owners as to the rental potential of their properties.   To prevent a wasted journey I have a lot of requirements to be met before a viewing, one of which is that the property is ‘rental ready’, so it’s always an interesting moment to arrive and see what that phrase actually means to the owner.

Some are amazing – the owners have gone to town on staging and preparation – and I can take photos, get the property up on our website a day later with bookings flowing almost overnight. These owners understand they are entering a business and as providers to the tourism industry, have a huge responsibility to meet high standards and expectations.

Others take a very different and out-dated viewpoint on the whole issue of renting out, so when they get my report it lays out what they have to do to bring the place up to a standard to meet guest expectations.

tweet@CottageGuru discusses the correct mindset and attitude for a successful #vacationrental owner

I don’t beat around the bush with an evaluation and can be blunt.

  • Your property needs a deep cleaning
  • All furniture will have to be replaced
  • Dryclean the curtains
  • Steam clean the carpets
  • Paint the dark paneling
  • Install Wifi
  • Recaulk the bathtub to remove the mold
  • Replace the front door
  • Upgrade the kitchen cabinet knobs and handles
  • Buy new pots, pans and kitchen utensils
  • Supply books, games and DVDs for rainy day entertainment

And above all…..

Get an attitude of hospitality.

Quite frankly, some owners should not be in this business – today. This doesn’t mean they were not successful in the past, and probably had very satisfied guests, but expectations are very different now.

When I first rented cottages in England in the 1980’s and 1990’s, they were basic.   Pots and pans were old and battered, there were the ubiquitous rusty potato peelers and blunt knives, and there were usually mice. I don’t know what it was about rental places but we expected to find mouse droppings here and there.

Those getting into the business now wouldn’t dream of delivering the product we encountered then, but there are some out there who are hanging onto those old perceptions of what guests will tolerate. Let’s weed them out!!


8 Out-Dated Attitudes that Show You Should Not Be a Vacation Rental Owner


  1. It’s easy money

There is nothing easy about being an owner of a successful vacation rental business. It requires hard work creating a marketing strategy, providing content, communicating with guests, managing cleaning staff, collecting money, dealing with issues, following up and generally being on call 24/7. It’s a job, not a hobby.


  1. People will book because you are on the beach/lake/river/close to Disney etc.

Yes, a beautiful beach photo never fails to capture attention, but unless you are the only rental property in the area, there will be competition. It takes work and a savvy marketing brain to stand out and be seen above the rest. 10 years ago, there were far less properties on the market to meet the demand and it is far different market today. As in #1 the only way to get the bookings is to create something people will desire.


  1. No-one needs Wifi because they are on vacation

I think it’s safe to say that the majority of travelers want to be connected and not only via the roaming capability of their cell phone. They want free wifi. Hotels are finally catching onto this and there are few quality chains now that don’t offer a free service. Even if you have to limit bandwidth, as long as guests have the ability to connect, if you can supply the facility do it.


  1. Your old tube TV is all they will need

Do you know you can’t even give away a tube TV any more. Our local Habitat for Humanity didn’t want a fully working 27” TV with built in DVD, when we wanted to get rid of an old basement model from our home. And guests expect flat screen and the bigger the better, even in bedrooms. I had a discussion with an owner recently that went something like this:

Me: ‘Would you consider installing a satellite service and a flat screen TV’

Owner: ‘Absolutely not – there is nothing wrong with this TV. You can get three local channels and we’ve got a collection of VHS films’

Me: ‘Guests are more interested in HD and DVDs if you are not able to install satellite service’

Owner: ‘Well, they are on holiday and should not be allowing their children to sit indoors and watch TV. There is plenty for them to do outside’

Me: ‘I really don’t feel that renting your cottage is the best route for you to go’


  1. I can equip the kitchen from yard sales and stuff I have no further use for

Gulp! Yes, I still hear this from owners entering the business. The goal should be to get the review that says:

“This place was better equipped than my own home…and with stylish stuff too!”

Forget yard sales, and dumpster stuff – shop in Pottery Barn instead.


  1. They will look after themselves if something goes wrong

No they won’t. At the first sign of a problem, the phone will ring. If the blender doesn’t crush the ice, or the toilet shows a sign of blocking, guests will want a maintenance call. People are not self-sufficient as they were a decade ago and most don’t have the knowledge or inclination to fix something themselves. And, after all, why should they?


  1. People expect too much

This attitude still prevails in owners who began renting their homes years before Trip Advisor came on the scene, and reviews became the way to sort through myriad listings.

They skimp on facilities, furnishings and still call guests ‘renters’. Their general viewpoint is that their renters should be happy with what they get and have no reason to complain.


  1. You don’t trust your ‘renters’ not to trash the place

This attitude follows from #7 and is driven by a lack of respect for guests in general, and in good part from hearsay delivered by those who have never rented out, but have picked up on various media reports.

In general guests value the trust placed in them to look after a holiday home and will be completely respectful.

I expect that since you are reading this blog post your attitudes are very different from those above, but if you are considering entering the agency business, know that they still exist.

And if you are harbouring one or two of them, really consider whether renting is for you, or if you are willing to do an attitude shift. It really will make a difference to your bottom line.


Suzie Sunshine

Some very good points.


Heather,great points.


Excellent, with so many mediums of advertising and the vast variety of choice, all of us need to continue innovating our offering in making the guest feel special. Treat it like a real business and there are some excellent returns – including guests!

Tyann Marcink

Well said, Heather. It comes down to a business and hospitality mindset. Thank you for laying it out so well.


I especially liked the quote “this was better equipped than my own home”. My rental is equipped better than my own home – all the good things I buy go there and we live with yardsale finds.

Jeannine Valenti

I am so pleased that I have no outdated attitudes on your list. I have
actually went out and bought a few flat screens myself. When a homeowner
would not. Guess what! When the home owner arrives I walk right out
the front door with the
flat screen and tell them my staff will be
here shortly to hook up their old TV. It a shame because Flat screens
are so inexpensive now.

Holly Quinn

You are spot on! We do what we do because we love our cabin and want others to love it too!

One Chic Retreat

Great article as usual, Heather. This article sums up that our guests don’t want a “a home away from home;” rather the “home they WISHED they had away from home,” right? Sounds like the commentators below get that which puts them in the top 1% of owners. Thanks for the sage advice. 🙂

Andy McNulty

“rusty potato peelers and blunt knives”. Takes me back Heather, but not that far back – I remember a French holiday gite in 2002. The kind with the drawstring curtain under the sink hiding a nasty old colander! Back then it was almost a given that the kitchen was just a sink and you should forget thoughts of cooking! Now it would be a shock if the fridge didn’t have an ice maker! We’ve come a long way in little more than 10 years (generally speaking).


Brilliant article. Thankfully I don’t have the outdated attitudes except for maybe number 8! Our apartment is in Spain on a golf course but near the beach, but 95% of guests are a family on holiday who don’t play golf. They respect the apartment (“better than my house” thankfully) and we’ve not had one single solitary problem.
I dread the other 5% who come to stay though – as they are usually a group of male friends on a golfing tour. Brits mostly who think that too much to drink is great fun. And we’ve had the place trashed twice by drunken louts. I am now very reluctant to taking golfing party bookings which is a sad state of affairs as this is why we bought the aprtment in the first place


Heather, I am good on all 8.
I have the book it option and also give guests the option of sending a deposit check and paying on arrival. Every one has sent a check and paid on arrival. I don’t rent on holidays and am booked 270 days this year so far.

Nick Marshall

Could not have said it better. Aussies are way behind on this with some notable exceptions. Item 7 sums up the attitude. Skinny pillows that a mouse would get a bad back on, crappy towels that remove your skin before they remove any moisture, no pictures on the walls, no spare loo paper or spare anything and please don’t get me on to 6′ tall bedside reading lamps or no bedside tables. We have mostly managed to train our owners quite well now but we go through the same thing with every new recruit. Trying to get owners to put themselves in their guest’s shoes.

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