We have all heard the phrase “You need to spend money to make money”, but the key to maximizing your return on investment truly lies in where you spend that money.
Your vacation rental is a great asset most of the time, and a thorn in your side for the rest – right? There always seems to be something lurking around the corner; maybe an area of your cottage that needs some extra TLC, or an unexpected problem that needs to be addressed swiftly. As a vacation cottage owner, or host, you know how important it is to keep your cottage in great shape to delight your paying guests. So, as the busy season has been and gone, it is a great time to be thinking about where you should reinvest some of your 2018 profits back into your property, as it will benefit you in the future.
The best way to evaluate what needs to be changed, improved or removed is to think about some of your best vacation experiences. What impressed you the most? Was it the spacious and bright kitchen? The comfortable bedrooms? Or maybe the stunning outdoor entertaining space? Put yourself in your guests’ shoes and try to see your cottage through their eyes.
There have been a lot of changes in the vacation rental sector recently, and what we have discovered from our conversations with guests might surprise you… they are expecting a hotel-like experience in a private cottage. We suggest that you think carefully about the following areas of your cottage and consider reinvesting in these locations. Your guests will thank you, and your rate may be increased to reflect the added value to your property.
- Freshen up your kitchen.
The kitchen is the heart of the home and likely a place that groups’ will be spending time cooking together, playing games and organizing themselves for the days’ adventures. Maybe your counter has seen better days, or your cupboards could do with another coat of paint. Ensure that you have place settings, cutlery and crockery to accommodate your maximum occupancy. These relatively simple and affordable updates can make your kitchen a more inviting space and even appear cleaner, brighter and bigger! Consider light tones to open up the space and create a feeling of warmth.
- Rethink your bathrooms
It may seem like an area where you wouldn’t spend a lot of time, but an organised, clean and updated bathroom can make a huge difference to guests during their cottage selection process. Look around your bathroom and consider replacing old shower curtains and bath mats, providing more storage for the toiletries of your guests, or re-grouting your tiles if they’re looking shabby. It doesn’t have to be a rehaul – but a touch up is a great way to keep your cottage in top shape.
- Create some luxury in your bedrooms
We often receive feedback regarding tired and uncomfortable mattresses or pillows and mattress protectors with stains and marks. This is not luxurious. Replacing your mattresses every 5 years is important to your guests and could be the difference between them deciding to return the following year or not. Comfortable beds with fresh pillows, new mattress protectors and comforters can make your cottage bedrooms feel like an expensive hotel room. Consider white comforters as they can be bleached and remember that matching bed sets can really create a luxury feeling. Limit the odds and ends that are left in your cottage so that it doesn’t feel cluttered.
- Your waterfront is your money maker
It is important to remember that your guests have booked your waterfront cottage with the intention of spending time outside on your dock, sandy beach or boathouse. Invest some money here as often as necessary. Keeping on top of your landscaping is important. Don’t neglect the grass, or let weeds infiltrate your beautiful water view. Your outdoor space is your money maker, so make sure it ticks all of the boxes. Docks, decks and boathouses need to be safe and well maintained. An ugly dock with tired wood and nails hanging out needs a lot of attention, remember you may be hosting kids and pets who are easily injured. Easy touches of luxury include sun lounges, well manicured firepits, outdoor dining areas for maximum occupancy, or hot tubs for the perfect evening of stargazing.
Enhancing these key areas can take your cottage to the next level, and in most cases a higher rental rate. Don’t forget that your property is a small business!
Recently, Netflix produced an interesting series focusing on the short-term rental market in the US. The series is called Stay Here and has many valuable insights into the guest experience and how to heighten this for increased rates of occupation and increased rental rates. If this interests you, I recommend that you take a look at one of the episodes. Most notably Season 1 episode 3 which looks at a professionally managed rental in Austin, Texas.