Luxury Vacation Rental or Your Grandparent's House?

The old saying “a picture is worth a thousand words” could not be more true when it comes to advertising your vacation rental listing.

St. Augustine is a very popular tourist town. There are thousands of vacation rentals available and more are being listed EVERY.SINGLE.DAY. How do you make your listing stand out? Your listing’s photos, duh. Let’s be real. We all go through vacation rental listings and judge the location solely by the pictures. Humans are visual creatures and we are also judgmental creatures. If you have a faded pastel floral sofa, white wicker furniture and the condo’s original 1970’s mauve carpet, chances are I and many other potential guests are skipping *quickly* past your listing. When travelers are on vacation, it is their chance to relax, enjoy the scenery and unwind. Guests do not want to feel like they are sleeping at their grandparent’s for the weekend.

Eye Catching Listing Photos + Good Reviews = Successful Investment & More Income!

Let’s dive in head first.

Say no to IKEA, Wayfair or any other cheap quality furniture. Believe me, you will end up spending more time & money buying another item to replace it after a month (no renters until the replacement arrives = loss of income) or paying to get it repaired (if it can even be repaired). IT IS NOT WORTH IT. I have worked with clients who did not understand why the sleeper sofa they ordered online for $399 collapsed. A kid (or adult, you never know) used it as their own personal trampoline, that’s why! It never stood a chance. 

Meme from

Meme from

Affordable QUALITY made furniture is out there, people! Spend a little extra and buy the sleeper sofa with the commercial grade sleeper mechanism or buy the sleeper sofa that has an actual warranty, that has an indoor/outdoor stain proof fabric option, and that is made with SOLID WOOD. Particle Board or MDF are not, I repeat not rental friendly!!
You do not have to spend $3000 on a sleeper sofa.
There are quality sleeper sofas out there ranging from $799 - $1299. I promise.
I have seen them with my own eyes.

That will be the best investment you make for your vacation rental and your sanity.

^Ashley Furniture Nuvella ( INDOOR / OUTDOOR FABRIC ) Queen Sleeper Sofa $799 @ Local Furniture Store^

^Ashley Furniture Nuvella ( INDOOR / OUTDOOR FABRIC ) Queen Sleeper Sofa $799 @ Local Furniture Store^

Now that we talked about the importance of buying quality furniture. Next, let’s dive into the design (my favorite part…because I am an interior designer) part of it. This is a vacation rental. Not your personal home. What you like and what a majority of the people renting your property like may be completely different. Putting oversized dark wood antique pieces in a beach front condo is a no no. This is veering back to what I previously said about guests sleeping at their grandparent’s house. Don’t do it.

Focus on a color scheme. Light airy white and blue tones for a coastal cottage. Tropical greens and oranges for a beach bungalow. Look at your properties natural surroundings. Play off of the environment. If you struggle in this area, Pinterest will give you an endless amount of possibilities and ideas. Or head to your local Barnes & Noble, grab a coffee and pick up some home design magazines. If that still doesn’t spark your creativity, hire an interior designer aka me and I will help you!

Mood Board I created for a client for her vacation rental

Mood Board I created for a client for her vacation rental

Don’t skip out on the decor. Rugs on hardwood floors (your condo’s downstairs neighbors will love you for this one), fun wall art, window treatments (cute curtains from Target will do just fine), quality linens. Home Goods, Marshalls, & Tuesday Morning offer AH-MAZ-ING inexpensive decor, linens, rugs, art work, kitchenware, etc.
Bonus: Bright colors catch people’s eye when browsing through the rental listing photos. For example: an orange sofa, bright fun patterned rug, or a wallpapered accent wall.

Vacation Property Rental in Treasure Beach, St. Augustine.

Vacation Property Rental in Treasure Beach, St. Augustine.

Again, this might not be your taste but remember that it will sure stand out from your competition.

Now that we have covered how important furniture and design is to the success of your vacation rental. Lets talk about how your rental property can stand out even more!

Now let’s get you some pretty awesome reviews to go along with those pretty awesome listing photos!

Provide your guests with unique amenities and offerings to make your rental property stand out among the competition.

A Welcome Book
Your Welcome Book should include a little something about yourself and or your family, WiFi Information, Pool Hours, Pet Policy (if you allow pets), Smoking Policy, Housekeeping Information, and any other information you think your travelers should know about your property. Bonus: Include some local sites to visit, your favorite restaurants nearby, nearby grocery store, etc. 

Streaming Service
Invest in a Smart TV that has Netflix, Hulu or Amazon Prime available for your guests. You can create a Guest Account or let guests use their own information to log in. Bonus: Advertise in your listing that your vacation rental has Streaming Services available and put that in your Welcome Book! 

DVDs & Books
If you aren’t looking to replace your television in your rental property anytime soon. Provide some DVDs and book options that are appropriate for everyone.
Bonus: Provide family friendly board games, too!

A Complimentary Welcome Basket
If you’re looking to win the hearts (and get some excellent reviews) of your guests, a welcome basket is the way to go. Provide some local goodies - candies, coffee, postcards, etc. This will be sure to leave a lasting impression. Bonus: Leave a complementary bottle of wine from the San Sebastian Winery for guests.

Beach Supplies
Offer beach towels, fold up chairs, sand buckets and plastic shovels for the kiddos, etc.
Your guests will really appreciate this, trust me. Bonus: Leave an umbrella for guests to use incase unpredictable Florida weather strikes.

I hope this knowledge I provided was helpful to any short term rental property owners. I have worked with many vacation rental property owners, managers, and agencies over the years. The tips I have provided above, I have learned from experience. I have helped clients who have been dropped by their rental management teams because they received complaints by guests about updating their property. Don’t let it get to that point. If you know your property needs help or you have been warned by your management team, contact me! I will work with you and help make your investment property successful again!