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How to decorate your AIRBNB to get more bookings.

Due to Covid 19 properties are selling quickly as vacation home investments. The nature of how people are traveling is changing while the world finds new ways to function in a pandemic environment. As demand increases, first time investors are out picking up new properties to rent out for profit. Investing in a home for as vacation home and managing it for rentals can be different things. Being able to provide for guests can really determine whether that property is a success or not. Seasoned bed & breakfast owners have more experience providing for what guests require but a first time property owner may not know what guests are looking for when renting their property for a vacation stay. I'm providing some tips from my perspective as an interior designer and former innkeeper.

When it comes to hosting guests at an airbnb, a vacation rental, a hotel or a bed and breakfast ensuring that guests have everything they need and are comfortable, clean and safe is what it is all about. That is the definition of hospitality. I think most property owners strive to make this happen but may not fully see if they have achieved this. This is a good reason to use and stay in your property as if you were a guest with the perspective of a guest. When you stay as a guest you realize everyone has their own interpretation of comfortable, clean and safe.

I recently returned from a week stay at an airbnb/vacation home rental in northern Vermont. The area was stunning to stay the least. We were right on Lake Willoughby located in the Northern Kingdom of Vermont not far from the border of Canada. Now, having been in the hospitality industry for many years and running a bed and breakfast prior to starting my career in the Interior Design industry, I have an eye for knowing what amenities to look for and what are red flags that stand out when staying at various lodging establishments. I didn’t have high expectations for this place, but for the price tag, I did expect a little more than what we received. It was a beautiful location but there were a few things I would recommend not doing if you own a vacation home.

1. Update the Furniture and Appliances

While booking the place, the images of the place looked really clean. And yes, it was clean. However, the longer we were there, we felt like we were walking on eggshells. And really felt like we had just walked into someone’s home, not a vacation rental. I think property owners have the tendency to cultivate the attitude of, “Well, I’m renting it out or I’m only using it part time, I don’t want it to get ruined, so I’ll put the things I don’t want or use in my own home.” You know what I mean- the chair with the stain on it or the old run down bed from a kids room, a worn out rug, and outdated appliances. These things do not present well...and if your guests are spending well over $500 a night for your place because you have a great view or beach location… it’s still disappointing to have less than average furnishings. Nicer newer items can be purchased for low prices at many retailers that would present better for guests than using old and outdated items.

2. Remove Personal Items

Okay, I get it, it's “your home” but your guests don’t want to feel like they are staying in “your home”. Personal photos and religious items sprinkled around the house or pictures all over the fridge just make your guests feel uncomfortable. I would suggest limiting personal photos to one or two walls in a gallery setting so that it remains “your house” and allows your guests to connect with you and get to know you…but still gives your guests the freedom to feel like the rental is a comfortable accommodation rather than bunking with neighbors.

3. Provide ample closet and drawer space.

Keep your personal items and things in one closet that is locked instead of occupying all the closets and spaces throughout the entire house. Your guests need to have a place to put their things while staying in your place. It’s a little weird to open the drawers to find diapers, someone else’s clothing items and knick knacks.

4. Clean appliances

Some property owners might think that cleaning the property themselves will preserve some of the profit. While it does, however, it is penny wise pound foolish to think that the property will be truly clean to guest standards. Hiring a housekeeping company to keep the floors shining, the counter tops are sparkling and the bathrooms clean when flipping the property between stays is important. But also to give it a monthly deep clean is equally important. For example, when your guests go to use the coffee maker and it’s dirty or the pots and pans haven’t really been cleaned in a while or the spot between the bed and the nightstand is dusty or grimy… it can really be a turn off. Be sure that it’s clean everywhere. Remove old stained area rugs. Freshen up appliances like microwaves, coffee makers, toasters, the oven and refrigerator.

4. Add color and style

Consider who generally stays with you. The majority of younger generation travelers will expect to see more updated decor that says 2020, not 1985. It really doesn’t cost a lot to add some color and fresh paint or window treatments. The place we recently stayed in was freshly painted...and it really made a world of difference. It made us think that they must have started with paint and new countertops but had not gotten to updating the furnishings yet. However, just seeing the fresh paint it made us feel like there was some effort there in the ownership to upgrade this property. By picking up clean colorful plate ware, outdoor chairs, dishtowels, decorative pillows, wall art and decor really adds to the level of luxury you bring to a property. Mismatched outdated plate ware, old glassware from the seventies, pots and pans that look like picked over tag sale finds are really going to bring the place down. Many properties require you to bring your own linens… especially now during Covid-19 pandemic cleaning procedures and state regulations. However, this is another way to add color and luxury. Invest in high end linens and good quality towels for your property if you provide them. It not only levels up the experience for your guests but will last longer with the many washings and wear.

6. Provide ample lighting and bedside tables

Every bedside should have a nice bedside table with a proper lamp. No one wants to have to put their glass of water, cell phone, watch or anything else they need beside them at night across the room or on the floor. There should be a lamp next to each bed to be able to turn on for late night visits to the bathroom or reading in bed. You would think this is commonly understood, however, we have found that in the last few properties we have stayed in there was no table and if there was, it was so small, nothing would fit on it. Bedside lamps should be tall enough and have the right size lamp shade to cast light for the person reading in bed.

Managing a vacation home, running a bed and breakfast, or hosting an airbnb is not easy. It requires a lot of dedication, forethought and patience. Each differ in the way they operate, but they all strive to do the same thing…”ensuring that guests have everything they need and are comfortable, clean and safe.” Some simple changes will only increase your bookings, will ensure better reviews and most importantly, happy guests. If you are in need of someone to come in and stage your air bnb or short term rental for guests, give us a call to learn more about how we can help.