We all want our vacation rentals to be as profitable as possible. But if we start charging our guests extra for pillows and toilet paper, we won’t be in business long! That’s because we need to book our units as many nights as possible at the highest price we can without sacrificing bookings, and our bookings largely depend on customer reviews and whether we can attract repeat customers. So, it’s key to satisfy our customers with the amenities most guests expect and a few extra touches that show we care about their experience. Once our guests are satisfied, then we can start charging extra for going the extra mile.
Unless you’ve marketed your rental as a rustic minimalist getaway, your guests will expect wifi, air conditioning/heating, a comfortable bed/pillows with fresh sheets and a blanket, bath towels, hand towels, hand soap, toilet paper, first aid kit, tissues, body wash, shampoo, conditioner, hairdryer, a nightstand with a lamp and alarm clock, and clothes hangers in the closet, along with an iron and ironing board. You’ll also need to decorate with some consistent style or theme. Guests generally prefer individual-sized toiletries and they’re more hygenic, easier to stock and very affordable to HostGPO members through our partner, World Amenities
If there’s enough room, guests will also want to see a desk with a lamp and a notepad and pen prepared for them, as well as a comfy lounge chair. If there’s a living room, a sofa with cushions and television are a must and the television should at least have either cable or else one subscription service like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, or Hulu.
If there’s a full kitchen (fridge/freezer, stove, oven, and microwave), you’ll need a chef knife’s set, salt/pepper, sugar, olive oil, a nonstick skillet, cutting board, big pot, spatula, a can opener and a flat wooden spoon. You’ll also need napkins, clean forks, knives, spoons, tall and short glass tumblers, wine glasses, wine and beer bottle openers, and, if there’s room, a table with chairs for guests to enjoy their meals, or else the kitchen should have a breakfast bar with barstools. Don’t forget soap, kitchen towels, and a dish brush or sponge! Most guests have also come to expect a coffeemaker, along with mugs, coffee, sugar, and some sort of creamer–if you don’t have one, your caffeine addicted guests will get very cranky!
The Finishing Touches
Now that you’ve satisfied the guests’ basic needs, it’s time to make sure they like you enough as a host to leave a good review, stay again, or refer you to friends. The key, here, is to include niceties that show you care that don’t cost you much. It costs no more than a few dollars per guest to offer a keurig with k-cups, or a kettle with tea and tea bags. If you have some gently used board games or playing cards lying around, put them on a shelf in the living room to show that you want your guests to enjoy themselves. When your guests arrive, if you’re in a fun area to explore, offer to let your guests use any spare bike or beach chairs/towels you happen to have, and let you know if they need anything like a tooth brush or tooth paste, shaving kit, makeup remover, or a sewing kit. (If you aren’t present or want to limit your guest interaction time, you can leave these in bathroom drawers, but then they’ll often be taken as freebies even by guests who don’t need them, costing a few extra dollars per guest–but the good will is still worth it–charging for these toiletries as if they were items in a mini-bar will likely be seen as cheap and isn’t worth the loss of good will.) It’s also key to have good restaurant, grocery, bar, coffee shop, and local attraction recommendations at the ready–offering them can be among the most positive interactions guests have with hosts, and when hosts aren’t present, this information can be left for guests in a welcome letter in their room. Speaking of letters, sending guests a message thanking them for their stay a day later is a great way of solidifying warm feelings and reminding them to leave a great review!
Guests will also appreciate a universal phone charger (the cords for multiple types of phones will prevent guests from mistaking it for their own charger and taking it home), earplugs (especially if the unit is noisy), feminine products, filtered water, or a vanity mirror.
Extras You Can Sell
Because good ratings lead to more bookings at higher prices, it isn’t worth nickel-and-diming your guests. So the services you sell should really be going above-and-beyond. For instance, when your guests book, you can message them asking if they’d like to be picked up or dropped off at the airport, have certain meals prepared for them, or have certain groceries stocked for a reasonable fee.
Unfortunately alcohol distribution laws typically make a full hotel-style minibar unworkable; but you can still offer water bottles, soda cans, bags of chips, and candy bars for a dollar or two each.