Must Have Amenities for Your Vacation Rental in 2021
Sean Rakidzich from Airbnb Automated shares the checklist he uses to set up his properties for success in 2021. Find out which amenities are must-haves, whether you’re just starting out or managing over a hundred homes, like Sean does.
Amenities are key for every short term rental business. The right set will increase your number of bookings, maximize your income, generate five-star reviews and, on top of that, make hosting easier. Below is a list of all the amenities that you need to prepare your vacation rental for 2021, explaining why they’re important and how to go around getting them.
Long-term amenities are crucial to running your business at scale, because they diminish your operational burden. If you manage multiple properties, you want to secure some month-long bookings since they require much less attention from your staff than assisting new travellers with the check-in and check-out every few days. Additionally, due to Covid-19, monthly stays have become a much larger portion of Airbnb's business, so you should do everything you can to show that your listing is monthly stay ready.
If you want monthly or multi-week guests, you need to offer parking. Many longer-term guests will drive into your town for a business contract and they'll need a place to leave their car. Finding a parking spot can be extremely hard (and expensive) in cities, so providing parking is an easy way to attract long-term guests, increase your occupancy rates and perhaps even increase your nightly rates.
Laundry on-site or service
If you want your guests to stay long-term, you have to give them access to the same basic amenities they have at home, including laundry. That means you either provide a laundry service, or a washer and dryer in the unit, or - worst case scenario - washer and dryer in the facility.
Kitchen essentials are key for multi-week stays, as long-term guests are much less likely to eat out at restaurants all the time. Instead, they’re going to go grocery shopping and cook more often. Another pro tip is to show the local grocery store in your photo reel. As an example, we include a picture of a Whole Foods that's next to our place in one of our best-performing listings.
It’s always a great idea to showcase your amenities in the photo reel in addition to the description. Include pictures of your fully-stocked kitchen, the washer and dryer, the nearby grocery stores, etc. To learn more, watch Airbnb Automated’s video on how to get longer bookings and monthly bookings on Airbnb and VRBO.
The quality of the creature comforts you offer is going to distinguish you from your competition, so make sure you invest some time and money in this area. Here’s a quick list of the most important basics:
- Fast wi-fi
- Smart TV
- Accessible desk space
- Water filter
- Coffee station with decaf and tea options
- Quality sleeping essentials: pillow, linens & bed
These amenities will make people choose your rental over someone else's, because they really do add that extra layer of comfort that all travelers appreciate. They will also generate a lot of positive reviews, with people commenting on your good coffee, comfy beds, nice smart TV, etc. Oftentimes, people will actually say “great for a long-term stay” or “great for a short trip” - they'll actually identify that in your reviews, so you have to be mindful of how important competitive creature comforts are.
Pay special attention to your bed and pillows if you want better reviews. We have at least two different types of pillows in our rentals. If you want to guarantee a good sleep, you need to cater to your guest’s sleeping preferences, and they will be diverse. If you need some inspiration on what items to get, check out my kit here. I curate and list everything I use in my properties at that link, so that you can go in and easily get the same items.
To attract more high-quality guests you need an attractive home design. While it might sound expensive, it’s easy to make your home stand out on a budget. Just follow these simple rules:
Focus on no more than 3 colors
Avoid visual clutter by focusing on no more than 3 colors in your rental. A good balance of colors will give the space a calmer, more deliberate feel.
Buy furniture at the scale of your home
When acquiring furniture, avoid items that are either too big or too small for your space. Everything you put inside of your home needs to fit it appropriately. Make sure you carefully consider the layout for best functionality and visual effect .
Fill your walls - play with symmetry
Don’t just leave the walls empty. Buy wall art and frame it properly, always maintaining good symmetry.
Make your space alive with plants (fake ones)
Adding fake plants can make your space instantly feel much more homely. Tall plants are especially great.
Get brave with opposing colors
Try to use contrasting colors in a unique way, as they can make your photos more vibrant.
Rugs are floor art - use them
Rugs can really frame a space, especially the living room and the bedroom. Not only do they make it easier to keep your carpets clean, but they also create a unique look for your home.
A lot of your guests won’t know your area very well, which may pose a challenge for them initially. To make their stay more enjoyable, you should put together a “live like a local” guide for them:
- Research the best activities, events and restaurants
- Map out the hot spots
- Share your secret favorite places
- Collect all of this in a binder and place it on the coffee table/kitchen island
Providing your guests with all the pro tips that a local would know gives you a competitive advantage over hotels in your area that wouldn't usually spend time on doing that type of market research. By making it super easy for people to access some of the coolest stuff in the city, you’ll make their stay so much more memorable, which in turn will positively affect your reviews and bump your listing up.
To help your guests settle in easier, and diminish the amount of inquiries you will need to answer, equip your rental with signs and reminders rehashing the most important information. Make sure your guests know how to contact you, connect to the internet, and check out without having to consult the Airbnb app:
Wi-fi access information
Mount a picture frame on the wall (or place a slanted sign on the counter top) with wi-fi information. You can also add other passwords to the sign (think Netflix, Disney+, smart TV, etc. if you provide those).
No smoking signs with fine listed
Most guests should know that smoking is not allowed in your rental from your house rules, but an additional sign somewhere in the home can act as a great reminder and deterrent, especially if it states how high your smoking fees are.
Share your secret favorite places
Don’t forget to place your local guide to the area somewhere in the rental.
Make a laminated sign and stick it on the back of the door, so that guests see it before they leave. Include instructions on how to return the keys, what they need to do before leaving and thank them for their stay.
Welcome card with contact info
Create a “Welcome” slanted sign that sits on the kitchen counter. Use it to introduce yourself, welcome the guests and assure them that you try your best to give everyone a five star stay. Include your contact information and encourage them to reach out should they need anything.
When getting your rental ready for guests, do not overlook security. It’s very important that you have some insight into your rental throughout your guest’s stay should you encounter a troublesome guest. This way, you can prevent major property damage and neighbor complaints. Here is what I use:
Outdoor motion-activated cameras
I place cameras outside the front door, so that the guest doesn’t feel their privacy is invaded inside. Look into wireless weatherproof battery-operated cameras like Wyze or Blink.
Minut noise monitoring
Minut does motion detection, temperature sensing, and noise monitoring - so if it gets too loud in your home after quiet hours, you will know instantly that your guests are violating your noise rules. You can then message them asking to quiet down, and if they don’t, send a security officer as well.
It’s crucial that you set up a rapid response protocol to parties (which have now been banned by Airbnb worldwide). Loud noise can lead to neighbor complaints, or reports to the city for being a nuisance, so setting up the right security system is extremely important.
Here’s also a more detailed list of other items I highly recommend:
- Knife set - Check out the Home Hero brand set available from Amazon. It sits well on the countertop, and our guests love it.
- Electric kettle - Many guests will want to make their own tea, so kettle is a must.
- Pour-over coffee system - If you have a kettle, you don't have to get a whole coffee station. Just get a pour-over coffee maker which is easier to clean.
- White coffee maker - If you're gonna buy a coffee station, buy a white one. It helps housekeepers check to make sure it’s clean. When it starts to get tan, you can easily notice that it's dirty.
- Water filter - Get a Brita water filter and fill it up before every reservation. It’s much more homely and economical than water bottles, and guests appreciate having access to filtered water.
- Rice cooker - If you host lots of international guests from places where rice is a staple, consider getting an electronic rice cooker. I get asked for them frequently in the various cities that I host in, so you should be providing them if you're in an area with diverse travelers.
- Smart TV 50” or larger - I recommend Fire TVs, and offering access to trending subscription services. We advertise that we have Disney+ in our listings. When it first came out, we got tons of more bookings because people wanted to watch it.
- Fake plants - IKEA is best for the plants. You can get all sorts of different looks, shapes and sizes, and they will make your home look so much better.
- Wall art - It’s an easy way to make your place instantly look more inviting. You can get some wall art on Amazon, but I would recommend going to places like Marshalls Home Goods, because they've got some really cool stuff and you can get it on the cheap a lot of the time.
- Smart home devices - If you want to go a bit more luxurious, add smart home devices like an Amazon Fire TV or Amazon Echo. If you do this, remember to turn off one-click purchases and add a password, so that guests cannot buy anything without your permission. Smart devices make it easier for people to navigate the TV and I really think that adds an extra level of convenience. Guests may actually return to your homes because you've done something like this.
- Good mattress - They’re crucial to guarantee a good sleep. We use Balance-X mattresses.
- Gel pillows - I like to have a few different pillow types in my rental. Beckham gel pillows are a great down feather alternative.
- Rollaway beds - We're using them instead of sleeper sofas to increase our revenue by increasing our guest count. In my experience, sleeper sofas often break and need a lot of maintenance. Rollaway beds just fold up and roll into a closet. They've done wonders for us - they last a lot longer and the mattresses are way more comfortable.
- Makeup mirror - Get a makeup mirror that has a magnifying side.
- Ceramic hair straightener & blow dryer - Have a basket in the bathroom that has makeup towels, hair straightener and a blow dryer. They’re reusable so you’re spending money on something that gives your bathroom extra value. It will get you more female travelers, who will want that peace of mind in case they forget an item.