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PUT ‘WOW’ FACTOR IN YOUR VACATION RENTAL
When you begin remodeling your vacation rental, think in terms of the complete customer experience. There will be small groups and large groups. In our case, we can sleep 11 – with pull out couches for 2 more at an extra charge per night.
Guests will give reviews to the third party websites and it is in the owner’s best interest to anticipate their needs. For our part, we believe in redundancy. We have 2 refrigerators, 2 washing machines, 2 dryers, 2 microwaves, 2 ways to access the front door and 2 sets of linen and towels. If something breaks or runs out, there is always an alternate way to keep going.
After several family gatherings and some brainstorming, we have equipped the kitchen with every possible pot, pan and utensils for any style of cooking – large or small. Most items were bought new, some at thrift stores. (We have received good feedback on the kitchen tools.)
Phyllis and I have stayed in vacation rentals that had the bare minimum of glasses, cookware and silverware and it is a real pain in the neck. That is one reason we personally use our rental 1 week every 3 months to stay on top of items needing replenishing or repair.
We also have two bear boxes (required in our area) to handle the large amount of refuse generated by groups of 8-10 over 3 or 4 days. We learned this from experience when before adding the second one we found multiple bags of garbage left in the garage and the housekeepers did not always remove it.
We installed grab bars around all 3 showers/tubs and at the entrances to step-downs both inside and out. As people get older they are more cautious of changes in walking elevations. I am in that group.
Our rental history uncovered a circulation deficiency in the hotter months of July and August and we installed an exhaust fan in the attic to blow hot air through a gable louver to lessen the heat build-up in the upstairs bedroom ceilings. We are one of the very few cabins at Lake Tahoe that have both central air and central heat – which hopefully gives us some advantage in renting certain months of the year.
We added a high-boy game table with many games for those guests who prefer to stay home. It seats six. There is also a large selection of paperback and hardcover books to read in a separate book cabinet.
Each bedroom has its own theme – Cabin, Indian, Bear – with pictures and plaques to complement. There are detailed instructions on each wall by the beds for the TV, DVD and Netflix remotes. Wi-Fi is also available throughout the cabin. We were able to get a contract for cable, internet and long distance phone at a fixed price – so we advertise free long distance on our land-line phone in the kitchen. All international calls have been blocked.
The wall plates for plugs and switches and themed throughout the cabin. We also installed Victorian style wooden door stoppers which are rugged and give the place a rustic touch.
Carpets are cleaned about 3 times a year by a local professional service. Price is very reasonable and only takes a few hours. This keeps everything clean and fresh – as many feet are on these floors – especially in the cold, snowy winters at Tahoe.
Every hanging picture and light fixture – including the 3 way lamps – are themed to fit the Tahoe rustic cabin look. You can usually find these items at local shops. It is important to showcase the local market in your rental. Guests are coming also for the experience.
Our hot tub seats 8 and is serviced weekly by a local technician. We literally do nothing to maintain it ourselves. This is a wonderful draw for the guests. Get one as big as you can afford so large groups can enjoy.
2 years ago we purchased heat-mats for certain walk-ways by front porch and by back door to hot tub that warm the floor and are activated by cold and snow. On icy days, this keeps bare feet warm and prevents ice build-up.
We have many inside ceiling fans and outside flood lights operated by a timer – so they are not left on for a long time. On mild days, the fans come in handy. Signage is abundant in and around the cabin – we had these made at a Fast Signs shop and they are black on white – very professional looking. We receive compliments on this also.
Phyllis has prepared a comprehensive instruction book that we leave on the kitchen counter with instructions on all appliances and electronic items. Sometimes we have had a real problem when staying in other vacation rentals trying to figure out what switch does what.
There are plenty extra light bulbs in the laundry room for the entire house that we keep for guests as they need to change one or more.
We installed a 120-gallon water heater and in 3 years we have never had a complaint about “no hot water.” It never runs out.
Since our house is on a pier and beam foundation, our plumbing lines are subject to freezing as we have sub-zero days. We have wrapped the low part of these water lines with heat-tape with a thermostat set at 40 degrees – and have never experienced freezing pipes.
Lastly, we installed a Honeywell Wi-Fi thermostat and can set the heat and air temperatures remotely – from Louisiana to California for when our guests leave and just prior to their arrival. Normally, we set it on 55 degrees which is warm enough to discourage anything freezing in the winter, and just turn it off in the summer.
Hope this long epistle helps you with your rental.
David S. Martin
David Realty Company