Starting out in short term rentals can be intimidating but, at the end of the day, it’s really not any harder than just being a good host. For first time hosts, I always recommend keeping three things in mind; treat people like guests, never put anything down in writing that you wouldn’t want to be broadcast in public, and make sure you treat it like a business. The first two are common sense but in order to successfully treat your rental like a business there are are a handful of must-have items you will need. You wouldn’t open a hotdog stand without hotdogs, buns, or ketchup and I wouldn’t open up a Short Term Rental without these ten essentials:
The Queen size mattress is the Goldie Lox size for short term rental owners. It’s not too big, not too small, it’s just the right size. Full and twin size mattresses are great to have as an extra bed, a bed for kids, or those who have a small space and are only looking to host single travelers. Most travelers, though, come in pairs and they don’t want to be crammed into a tiny bed. Couples see a twin or full-size mattress in your listing and they move right along to the next one. When they see a Queen size, they book.
King and California King size mattresses are great but they are pricey. And, we're not just talking about the mattress. The bed frame, headboard, sheets, blankets, and mattress pad is more expensive when you go up in size from a Queen mattress. King and California Kings are good for those higher end listings that demand higher rates and are expected to have upgraded offerings. For most Short Term Rental hosts, a King or California King ends up costing you more money without getting you more bookings. Queen size mattresses, on the other hand, are the perfect balance of price and guest happiness.
Photogenic Bed Frame
"Great pics or it won’t book" should be your motto when creating a listing. Guests believe more in what they can see than what they read. So, make sure your photos are top notch quality which means sharp, vivid colored photographs that frame your space well and tell a complete story of what you have to offer guests. The bed and bed frame should always be prominent, if not the main photo in your listing. It’s where guest will spend most of their time while staying with you so they want to make sure it looks inviting.
For Short Term Rentals, mid-century modern platform beds are my go-to recommendation. They are super photogenic so they always look great in pictures. And, they will make your listing look better which results in more bookings. At the end of the day, it is getting more bookings that matters.
Getting a bed set up is one of the biggest expenses for a rental. Or at least it should be because it’s going to get mentioned in the reviews. You will be taking a financial gamble if you don’t have a waterproof mattress cover to protect your new mattress. Most guests are amazing but it takes just one spilled coffee or leaky bladder to ruin a mattress without a waterproof cover. With a cover, when a spill or leak happens, you just pull off the waterproof cover, throw some stain remover on, run it through the wash, and you are good to go for the next guest. Without a cover, you are stuck buying a whole new mattress. This is the insurance policy that you need for your mattresses! Get one of these right now, before something bad happens.
Making extra cash renting out your spare bedroom is awesome. Renting out your house as a vacation rental and making more than you would with a regular tenant is awesome. Constantly having to clean your rental is not so awesome. So, you need to find ways to minimize the pain of cleaning because the less time you spend cleaning the more time you have to enjoy that extra income. Having bulk cleaning supplies delivered to your door is the easiest way to save time and money.
Buying in bulk is cheap, it eliminates runs to the store, and ensures you have what you need when you need it. I know cleaning the same thing over and over sucks. Make it suck less by having bulk cleaning supplies delivered right to your door.
Setting out towel sets for your guests is the norm for short term rentals. A standard towel set includes one bath towel, one hand towel, and one washcloth per guest. I always recommend folding them in a nice, neat stack on the bathroom counter or shelf for guests. A fluffy, clean set of towels also make for a very inviting picture in your listing. If you need some towels, here are some great option.
As for color, white towels are the way to go. They look clean and crisp, photograph well, and are easier to clean. That’s right, white towels are easier to clean. Colored towels can become discolored by various potions and lotions used by guests. Once that happens there is nothing you can do but throw them out and buy new ones. White towels, on the other hand, can be restored with stain remover or whitener. There is a reason why hotels almost excessively use white towels and it's not just because it makes guests feel more comfortable. They will last longer and save you money. You can get some great white towels with free shipping right now.
Don't pinch pennies in the bathroom. Hook your guests up with hand soap. It’s the nice thing to do, it shows your guests you care, and do you really want guests staying at your rental who aren't washing their hands? It really is a cost effective way to make your guests feel welcome and will pay off in the long run.
Liquid or foam soap is better than the bar soap because it's cleaner, easier to maintain, and there is something about using a bar of soap after a previous guest that has too much of a gross factor for many guests. Just put out a little container for the guests to use and keep a bulk supply hidden away so you refill it as needed. It takes a few seconds to refill, costs pennies per guests and is a nice way of saying, “Please don’t wipe your grubby, unwashed hands all over my beautiful place.”
It's not difficult or expensive to put out some Toilet Paper for your guests. In fact, here is some you can order with free shipping right now. Now, I know this might sound obvious but you would be surprised how many hosts don't do it. I am not saying you need to leave out a triple ply super plush 18 pack for guests to ransack but at least put out a single roll of rough and tumble single ply.
Think how you would feel if you stayed at a rental for a few nights that didn’t offer any toilet paper. How annoying would it be to check into your rental after a long day of traveling, sit down on the throne to finally relax, and look over to find an empty toilet paper holder? Yikes. That will set you in a mood to start nit picking every little thing that is not absolutely perfect about the rental. Do yourself a favor, set yourself up to get 5-star reviews and leave out some toilet paper.
The majority of the time your guests spend in your rental will be in the bed. You need to make sure your bed is comfortable. A couple of bad bed reviews and your booking rate will plummet. So, don’t mess around here. When choosing bedding, there are really only two ways to go; 100% cotton or microfiber. Microfiber is cheaper, stain resistant, wrinkle resistant, hypoallergenic, and soft to the touch. Which is why it is a great option for Short Term Rentals. Cotton sheets are a little more expensive but they last longer, get softer the more they are washed, and are more breathable in extreme climates. Also, cotton is an easy material to clean so most stains come right out. If you do offer 100% cotton sheets, this is definitely worth mentioning in your listing. Check out all these microfiber and cotton sheet options that are great for rentals.
Unless you want to constantly be buying new towels and bedding, you are going to need to invest in stain remover. Whether you soak, spray, or use the stick, having plenty of stain remover on hand is going to save your linens and save you money. It’s just simple math. Getting booked plus running out of stain remover equals guest spilling bright red Gatorade all over your white sheets and you running to the store to buy new ones. And, make sure you buy your stain remover in bulk. It saves you money and ensures you always have some on hand.
Sheets and towels, sheets and towels, every single guest will use sheets and towels. Guess what you will be washing after every booking? You got it. Sheets and towels. Stock up on laundry supplies because running out is a pain and you better believe you will use it all. Having bulk laundry detergent, fabric softener, and stain remover delivered to your door is the easiest way to save money, save time, and ensure you don’t run out.
When in doubt choose a Free & Clear laundry detergent. Other laundry detergents have a fragrance and some guests will have an allergic reaction to them. Better to prevent this possibility by using a laundry detergent that is free of any dyes and perfumes.
Got any essential must-have items for your Short Term Vacation Rental? Let everyone know in the comments below!