amenities to Make Your Vacation Rental Stand Out
Travelers are becoming more and more demanding with every passing day. Vacation rentals today compared to those near the birth of the concept are night and day different. Not only can guests search by location, but they can seek out their favorite amenities too. The following is a list of things people are ACTUALLY searching for, the amenities you need. Some of these are easy must-haves and some are a little more demanding. We tried to break this as simply as we could and we broke it down by color so you can see “starters”, “upgrades”, and “setting yourself apart by a large margin”. We even included a quick section on making money with amenities. Feel free to let us know how we did in the comments. Read the headings and if it is something you want to know more about, click it and read on. Check the summary for a full-on cheat sheet.
It is important to understand that the vacation rental market is ever-evolving and you need to evolve with it. Ask yourself, what you can do to offer even more based on your target audience? Depending on your location some of this will change; if you have a cabin in the woods with no cell service and an un-serviced dirt road to get there, some of your ‘must haves’ will be unique.
Travelers aren’t just looking for free toiletries, they’re looking for a memorable experience, a place to take a few selfies, cozy digs, and sometimes unique appeal, so without further adieu:
MUST HAVES (as in, goes without saying):
Travelers have come to expect this. It may just be a make or break reason they rent your place. Automating the check-in process eliminates the necessity of being available 24/7 using a lock box or some form of key-less entry. This makes a great first impression.
Basic: You have self check-in
Upgrade: You customize it in some way for them. “Welcome Smith family, please help yourself to the 6 delicious cookies on the table from the bakery down the street”
WiFi has simply become a staple of life UNLESS you are offering an off grid or low tech style vacation free from modern headaches and the itch to check that notification bar every 6 minutes. Otherwise, WiFi is probably the biggest necessity in any modern vacation rental. In fact, WiFi alone may not be enough, it also has to be fast or it could result in the loss of a star or two.
Basic: You have it
Upgrade: It is fast
For extra flair, offer a welcome basket. This doesn’t have to be anything more than a note to your guest along with a guest book they can sign, but it can go a long way to put cookies, snacks, water, gifts, or even a bottle of wine out for them. We have even seen some hosts leave a local post card for their guests. Kind of feels nostalgic, don’t you think?
You could add toothbrushes, floss, toothpaste, razors, tampons, deodorant, sunblock…the sky is the limit.
Streaming Services/Smart TVs
Even if they don’t use a TV, they will want to see that you have one. Beyond that, you can have a special account for guests (which some don’t like because you could then “spy on” what they watched) OR you can let them use guest mode on a streaming service that will ask them when they would like it to sign them out which can be set to checkout day…
Read that again…yes, it has to be appealing to the eye but comfortable when in use. We have been in some BEAUTIFUL homes with EXQUISITE decor that was so uncomfortable we didn’t want to stay there. It should go without saying…but people look for this in other people’s reviews.
Grab a basic First Aid and keep it in the kitchen or in the main bathroom. Make sure your guests know where it is.
Another good idea is to keep a Fire Extinguisher in the kitchen, another one outside near a grill if you have one, and a backup in a garage or hall closet.
Room/area Specific NormaliTies
Some people just want to be able to cook.
- A decent set of sharp knives.
- Coffee Maker, Toaster, Microwave
- Pots and Pans, Bakeware, Utensils, Flatware, Strainer
- Cutting Board(s)
- Rice cooker, crockpot, a blender.
- Corkscrew/bottle opener
- Salt, Pepper, Oil, Sugar, Creamer
If you are going heavy on seasonal bookings then you may want to include some of the following:
- Roasting pan
- Vegetable peeler
- Large Serving Dishes
But you can go downright crazy…just remember, the more you put in it, the more you are going to end up cleaning.
- Air Fryer, Hand Mixer, Stand Mixer, Griddle, etc
- Muffin Tins, Apple Slicer, Garlic Press, French Press, Grater, Zester, etc
Guests love to be able to keep up with their own laundry while they’re away, this one even likes to go home with fresh clothes when it’s over. Leave at least enough detergent they can do a few loads and some dryer sheets (or those totally awesome wool dryer balls).
A coin-op facility that is close by can do the trick. Think about providing a way for them to pay for a few loads if this is the case. Whatever the situation is, provide clear directions.
**Trip Advisor did a survery a few years ago that suggested nearly 70% of travelers prefer vacation rentals over hotels simply because they could do their laundry when they wanted without paying for it.
If there is one thing I love to do while on vacation…it is sleep an entire night through and maybe even get up late.
- Must have 2 pillows per guest
- Sheets, but not any old sheets. High thread cant is good as long as they don’t get “sticky” during sleep. Avoid silk, polyester (unless a blend), and moisture wicking. Cotton sheets are usually the way to go and can still be high end enough to feel great against the skin.
- TV was already covered.
- Luggage Rack
- Iron/ironing board
- lint roller.
The requirements are pretty basic…
Shampoo, Conditioner, Body Wash, Hand Soap, towels, and toilet paper. Doesn’t matter if you go bulk or individual sizes on those soaps.
Nice to Have:
- Body lotion
- Cotton Balls
- Makeup Remover
- bath salts
- bath bombs
- essential oils
- Really nice towels!!
- Hair Dryer
- Makeup Mirror
Your guests will appreciate it if there is some outdoor activities waiting for them. It could be as simple as storing a football or frisbee outside.
Cool: You put SOMETHING.
SUPER Cool: You installed a putting green or a basketball goal.
You may have thought to put a table and chairs outside but what about a two person hammock?
Don’t forget to make sure they can see outside. The right lighting can be an attractive photo op too.
Families go on vacations. It isn’t a bad idea to make sure they are going to have things to do if it is raining, snowing, too hot, etc.
A gaming console and a few games with enough controllers that a few members of the family can play at the same time.
Pro Tip: Keep a list of what games are included so it is easy to make sure you still have them all. Nobody is going to take one “accidentally” if you have an accurate list that shows what all is there.
This can be so fun to stock and it can be cheap if you love yard sales:
- Board Games
- Action Figures
Some Board Game Suggestions: Pictionary, Trivial Pursuit, Chutes & Ladders, Twister and Uno are all-time family favorites.
For the tots
Crayons, books, bathtub toys, large blocks, play-doh, and anything else that a toddler can play with.
If you are super awesome…a tricycle too.
Babies aren’t just cute
If you know a family has infants it would go a LONG way to provide a few baby necessities.
- High Chair
- Baby Gates
- Babe Fence (to make a play area)
You may want to have a cooler, beach umbrella, a few beach chairs, beach towels, and a body board if you are near a beach.
If you are near a hiking trail perhaps some hiking poles, a map of the trails, and instructions to get to a trail head.
Is there a ski area close by? Well, provide something of value that would save them a dollar or two.
Be the guide they hope you are
Leave suggestions, places you like to go and things you like to do locally. Leave a book that includes your favorite restaurants, parks, and sight seeing adventures. ie; recommend cool things
Partner with local businesses and give your guests a price break:
- Tickets to shows
- Discounts at eateries
Value Add Services
You could offer so many cool add ons, consider:
- Airport pick up/drop off
- City transfers
- Chauffeur service
- Sightseeing tours
Set yourself apart
Charge me up!
Most guests will carry their own adapters, but sometimes even the most seasoned travelers may forget, lose or break them. Having a stockpile of universal adapters and chargers will make them see you as a lifesaver!
Let me Sleep!!
Many people have trouble sleeping in a bright environment. They’ll thank you for installing some blackout curtains or blinds in the bedrooms of your vacation rental. Especially if the bedroom windows are facing the sun – be it at night in summer or in the morning.
Upgrade: Noise machine to imitate waves crashing, a summer night in nature, or rain. This may sound a bit old school, but the amenities you need are the ones that set you apart. As we close in on saturation, you will need to stand out to get booked.
Does it rain there? Supply an umbrella and/or a raincoat or two.
Lots of bugs? Bug spray.
Snow? Leave a sled.
Pets are People Too, Right?
If you allow guests to bring their dogs along for vacation you can accommodate them by storing a set of bowls for food and water in your property’s kitchen or even outside. Additionally, you could also keep a few treats as an extra special welcome for your four-legged guests. Their owners will definitely appreciate and remember such an attentive gesture when they review your amenities later! Even if you do not allow pets, you may one day have to entertain a service dog and leaving a few things out to welcome that dog would go a long way, especially if you don’t allow pets. For more on that, read this.
This is a pretty basic concept but it is important.
If you plan on targeting specific demographics then you will need to have things they need and want.
Trying to book more bachelorette parties? They need enough space to share the experience. Seating, large room, and a way to focus on the lucky lady.
Trying to reach travelling workers? You better have everything they need to make working in comfortable and productive.
Think about who you are trying to get into your space and make it work for THEM.
Absolute wish list
An astonishing 81% of renters said that a private pool was important for them when choosing a vacation rental property. If this is an option consider it because you will be able to raise prices and boost your rental income immediately!
Many guests will travel to your vacation rental by car. Naturally, they’ll need a parking space for their vehicles. If possible you should provide them with this option – either on your own property or by directing them to nearby parking spaces.
Provide your guests with instructions on how to get around the city, this includes metro maps, bus schedules, and driving routes. Another great amenity to have on hand is a couple of bicycles for your guests to enjoy the area like a local!
Electric vehicles are becoming increasingly common, by including an EV charging station at your property, you’re not only leading the way for the future of vacation rentals, but you’re also setting yourself up for the “wow factor” of your guests. Be one of the few VR owners to offer such an innovative amenity.
Measure the cost by kWh (kilowatt per hour) used or mark up your base rate to counter the expense of EV charging. Either way, it will be a huge perk for guests and might even be a tax-deductible expense for you!
Err ma gersh, are these floors warm?
Have you ever had an amazing shower with a rain simulating shower head but had to step out onto cold tile? Remember that if you’re trying to emulate a spa experience for guests, you have to think of every little detail down to the flooring. Heated floors, especially for winter-focused accommodations are going to be a big plus for guests.
If you have never experienced heated floors in a bathroom, you have not been appropriately spoiled.
Pool table, shuffleboard table, side by side basketball, air hockey, foosball, arcade games…the list is endless but these rooms alone can be a reason someone rents your vacation rental.
If you are going to do it, go all out; mount the TVs, put a pub table in to hold the beer, neon signs, and anything else you can think of to wow over the moon.
Rent Stuff Out
Motorcycles, Cars, Side by Sides…There is app for everything that will let you make extra cash off your vacation rental AND stand out at the same time.
Say you live near off-road trails. Leave a side by side parked in the garage with a lock box on the wall with a sign that reads “YEAH, THE KEY IS IN THIS BOX” – Rent me by scanning this QR code. I have done this, it works.
Offer a or partner with someone that offers and excursion. Doesn’t matter what it is; a sightseeing tour, a boat ride, a hike. If you are doing it, charge an appropriate amount for your time. If you are partnering with someone else, get 15% for giving them business.
You can always provide your guests with basic amenities and still get good reviews. However, if you really want to impress them, it’s important to go the extra mile! A great way to decide on the best amenities for vacation rentals is by going around your property, picturing yourself as a guest, and asking yourself “what do I need in here?” and most importantly, “what would be great to offer to make my guests feel like royalty?”.
If you’re worried about offering too many vacation rental supplies and amenities, you can keep track with an inventory checklist and include everything you offer, and have it signed by the guest. Both parties agree on all of the items that are left in the vacation rental, as well as their current state.
Amenities can make or break a vacation according to a survey commissioned by Airbnb. Following accommodations, US travelers say amenities have the second biggest impact on vacation quality ahead of shopping/dining, location, culture and family/friends.
To discover what travelers really want when booking accommodations, Airbnb looked at its highest searched for amenities globally and found some surprising results. People would rather stay cool than connected, with air conditioning appearing above WiFi. And while practical things like kitchens and washers are important, nothing beats a social media-worthy pool. It is the amenities you need.
Here are the 10 most searched for amenities on Airbnb:
#1 Pool, #2 Kitchen, #3 Free Parking, #4 Pet Friendly, #5 Air Conditioning, #6 Wireless internet, #7 Washer, #8 Hot Tub, #9 Television, and #10 Heating