by AINSLEY LAWRENCE
There’s certainly no shortage of vacation accommodation options in the South. However, you may find that renting out your residential property puts you at something of an advantage. After all, many people head to the southern states not for any old chain accommodation experience, but for the reputation locals have earned for charm and hospitality. If you own a rental property, you have a good opportunity to lean into this demand.
Yet, it’s important not to simply assume your property will attract a steady stream of guests. The experiences guests have in your vacation rental will play a significant role in both their likelihood of returning and whether they spread the word online through social media posts and reviews. It’s worth finding ways you can improve your property and visitor experience to make each stay successful for your guests and your business.
Let’s look at how you can exceed guest expectations with your Southern vacation rental.
Guests assume a basic level of safety whenever they book a vacation rental. While private rentals may not always be held to the same safety code standards as larger hotels, it is still important for you to put guest well-being first. Indeed, one way to exceed guest expectations is to make clear and continual efforts to improve safety.
Take the time each quarter to perform a full safety assessment of your property. Get to know the various environmental hazards that may impact guests’ health and make plans to address these. This should include consideration of dangers to those who may live with mobility challenges or vision impairments. Think about the impact of steps, wall-mounted cabinets, and floor materials. Review how easy it is for guests to navigate the property in an emergency.
It’s also important to think about hazards that are specific to the South. For instance, the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) reported that more than half of the 20 most challenging places to live with seasonal allergies were in southern states. High tree, grass, and weed pollen levels could trigger asthma symptoms or discomfort in your guests. You may want to upgrade your heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) filters to hypoallergenic standards. During hurricane and tornado seasons, ensure there are emergency supplies and wind-up radios available. Your guests will appreciate that you care for their well-being.
Your vacation rental guests will be traveling for a variety of reasons. Yet, a likely common factor in their stay is that they want your property to be a place of rest and recuperation. It’s important to go above and beyond to ensure your guests’ comfort during their time in your space.
For instance, some of your guests may not be prepared for the high temperatures and humidity that are characteristic of Southern summers. Therefore, you may need to overhaul your air conditioning with a more powerful system to accommodate them. If guests spend long days hiking the mountains or on a road trip, it’s also important to ensure they can return to good-quality bath or shower facilities.
Some of these steps for prioritizing comfort will require renovations. It’s important to choose the right time of year to renovate your property, so as not to disturb your guests. Getting work done during the fall or winter can mean you’re competing with bad weather. However, you may find this less disruptive to your business if you have lower guest demand at this time. If you must make changes while guests are at the property, be sure to utilize noise reduction methods and maintain stringent safety procedures.
In some instances, your guests might book time with you during the holidays, it can also be smart to consider what small comforts can boost their experience in this regard. A few decorative touches can add a sense of coziness. Embrace the Southern approach here with some local natural flora, complimentary sweet treats, or even some ingredients guests can use to make Southern holiday recipes.
The vacation rental market may be competitive in some areas. This could mean your potential guests have a lot to choose from when shopping around. It’s important to consider investing in some amenities that give your property a push when potential guests are making decisions.
For tourists, this may be as simple as providing a little local flavor. Work with local businesses to gain samples or small free items so you can build a gift basket of local goodies for their arrival. Provide coupons for discounted entry to local attractions.
On a more practical basis, it’s important to remember that some of your guests will be traveling for business. They may also be part of the rising number of digital nomads that combine vacation traveling with their careers. Those taking workcations need fast, reliable internet connections. This allows guests to make video calls, share files, and perform the tasks that allow them to get their jobs done in a relatively stress-free manner. It’s important to make sure you have the fastest, most stable connection available to you, both to meet guests’ work needs and for their leisure activities.
Alongside internet connections, it can also be worth providing a few practical miscellaneous amenities to make guests’ stay a little easier. Some spare phone chargers with different types of connections are useful in case they forget or lose theirs. A fully-stocked first aid kit is also a considerate touch. Even ensuring there’s laundry detergent alongside your washer and dryer provides convenience.
Your vacation rental can and should help provide your guests with a great experience of the South. Make regular efforts to bolster their safety by examining and reducing hazards. Prioritize their comfort with improvements to your property and mindful renovations. Remember that a few considerate amenities can provide them with a practical and enjoyable stay. It can take a little extra investment and work, but you’ll find putting your guests’ interests first can help ensure your bookings are consistently positive.