Many vacation rental owners attempt to reduce their costs by reducing the extra amenities available to renters, but this can backfire as they find they have fewer bookings and fewer repeat guests.
When asking yourself what amenities you should offer to your guests, think about your own travels. Consider the last time you went on vacation and stayed in a hotel or a vacation rental home. What did you really appreciate having? What did you wish was provided? The amenities offered in a vacation rental can be the icing on the cake for your renters, and can make the difference between them returning or finding a different place to rent next time.
Free Wireless Internet
Free wireless should no longer be seen as optional. In this world, people want and need to stay connected. They want to share their pictures and experiences from their vacation; stream movies or TV shows; stay in touch with email, Facebook, and Twitter; and many people do a little work when away from home.
TV, Cable Channels, DVD Players, and games
After a day of play and activities, families appreciate being able to wind down with cable TV or a movie. Basic channels will do, but cable is a must. It may be a good idea to start a library of DVDs in all categories, including family friendly ones, as guests may not think to bring their own. Keep your eyes open at thrift stores and garage sales as they are inexpensive sources of a variety of movies. If possible, place a TV with cable and/or a DVD player in each bedroom, and, keeping in mind that happy kids make parents happy, having a game system with a few games wouldn't hurt.
Believe it or not, some families enjoy playing games that do not require a system or a monitor! Its a great idea to have some games available such as Scattergories, Pictionary, Apples 2 Apples, a few decks of cards, and a cribbage board.
Remember, one perk of staying in a vacation rental home over a hotel is the ability to make meals at home. Look around your kitchen. What are your basics? If you dont cook much, ask a friend who does. Be sure that your kitchen is stocked with all the tools necessary for eating, drinking, cooking, and baking. Include pots and pans, a cookie sheet, coffee maker (with filters!), microwave, dishes, wine glasses, silverware, a set of knives, cutting board, and a variety of gadgets such as a can opener, corkscrew, spatula, wooden spoon, etc. Also include the things necessary for cleaning up, such as kitchen towels and dish soap. An outdoor grill will attract those who enjoy doing their cooking outside.
The decision to allow pets in your vacation rental or not is a personal one, but pet-friendly policies do open your rental to families who may otherwise need to look elsewhere. Guests with pets typically expect to pay a non-refundable pet fee to use to deep-clean the carpet after each guest, and you wont have to worry about future guests with allergies or sensitivity to pet smell.
Washer and Dryer
As airlines are charging more and more to check baggage, many travelers limit themselves to one carry-on bag on the airplane. With the option to wash their clothes during their stay, everyone will feel less packing pressure and be more relaxed about getting their clothes a bit dirty while on vacation. Be sure to include laundry detergent as well as instructions to use the machines.
A welcome basket visible as guests enter is a nice touch. It doesnt have to include fancy wine and crackers, but a few simple free necessities can go a long way, especially things that guests will want to buy but dont want to have to on their first day rolling into town. Consider including items such as hand soap, a small bottle of shampoo and tube of toothpaste, a new kitchen sponge, a small packet of coffee, a few different types of tea, and a few cookies or pieces of candy.
Fireplace, Pool or Hot Tub
Depending on where your vacation home is rented, one of these options can make your guests stay more comfortable and fun.
Things to Do Binder
Many travelers staying in vacation homes do so so they can feel like they are living like locals. Think about the great places there are to visit and see, and spend some time collecting brochures and menus from various establishments in town as well as some of your own thoughts about to do in the area. Gather these ideas into a binder with sections for restaurants, art galleries, entertainment for kids, parks, beaches, rentals, shopping, etc, and make it easy to find and use. You may be surprised at how helpful and appreciated that is!
A great way to get a feel for amenities guests would appreciate is to stock your vacation rental home with the things you think they will want, and then book a stay there yourself. Take only the things you would take to a hotel, and during your stay, make a list of the things you wish you had.
Happy guests will be return guests! Going the extra mile to ensure that renters are happy, comfortable and entertained will increase the likelihood that they will return and will recommend your rental to their friends.