Short Term Rentals for Travelers
Whether you have a spare room, next gen suite, guest house, or vacation house, you can make money from it. Use this space to your advantage to rent to vacationers, pet owners, and those traveling for work. In this article we’ll discuss how you can make some extra money with short term rentals!
We’ve already discussed renting your yard out as a private dog park and renting your pool and other amenities for private use. Renting out an inside space is something way more personal, so that is the first thing you should take into account.
We will also discuss some sites for short term rental along with small investments in your space that can make a big difference. There are a multitude of ways to promote your short term rental and get the word out to potential renters. You’ll also want to know how to protect yourself and your property with the proper insurance.
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Who Are Short Term Renters?
There are a variety of situations in which someone would need use of a short term rental.
- Travelers on the road looking for a more personal and private experience than a hotel.
- Pet Owners who have trouble looking for pet friendly hotels, or a place with room for their pet to run around.
- Families going on vacation who don’t want to be crammed into one room for a week.
I should clarify for the purposes of this post that when I use the term “short term rental” I mean anywhere from 1 night to 3 weeks or so. Maybe even up to a month for longer vacations. Keep an eye out for our post on long term rentals coming soon!
For us, personally, we have three small dogs (combined weight under 40 pounds). Most hotels only allow 1-2 dogs regardless of size. Plus every time they need to go out, you have to leash up, make your way to the elevator, through a possibly crowded lobby just to get outside.
If you’ve ever stayed in a Vegas Hotel with dogs, you have to add a crowded casino. Also you need to go to a designated dog relief areas that rarely cleaned and usually hidden within a noisy parking garage, or next to a busy street. I can speak from experience that this is not an enjoyable experience.
For those that like to cook, a private rental is ideal as standard hotel rooms do not have kitchens. This is great for home cooks, those with special dietary needs, and anyone wanting to save some money on food, not having to order out for every meal.
Popular Sites for Short Term Rentals
Airbnb is by far the most known short term rental site, connecting renters with hosts. There are a variety of stays available from rooms within someone’s home, to a whole home, to event a castle.
A castle, like this one in Scotland:
There are a variety of rentals in the OMG! category. These range from an underground bunker in Roswell, New Mexico to a silo in Bozeman, Montana, a treehouse in Georgetown, Maine, and more. See the OMG! category here.
Vrbo is another vacation rental site, one that focuses only on private residences. So you won’t be looking at rooms in homes as a possible rental, you’ll be getting the whole home or apartment. They also don’t appear to have yurts, tents, or igloos like Airbnb. With the concentration being on whole home or apartment rentals, this may be a better option for larger groups.
Other Sites for Short Term Rentals
These are probably the most popular sites but they’re not the only sites for short term rentals.
Pure Wow has an extensive list and description of others. They also have a comparison list to Airbnb in which aspects of each are most comparable to your favorite features of Airbnb.
Getting Started with Your Short Term Rental
First and foremost before you spend a dime on anything, check your city, township, HOA, to see if this is even allowed. While the city we live in allows short term rentals like Airbnb and other sites, our HOA does not. You don’t want to be subject to any consequences for listing your property if it isn’t allowed.
From there choose the rental site that best fits your property. Some more experienced hosts will cross post their property(ies). Personally, I think this would be overwhelming to the beginner. Just choose one site and stick to that for now.
Sign up for an account and follow their requirements for becoming a host. Usually this just includes providing some information to identify yourself and your property, a description of the property and features, photos of the inside and outside, and setting a price and rules. Rules would include how many vehicles guests can park on site, how many guests they can have over in addition to who is actually staying, pets, quiet hours, etc.
Publish your listing or submit for approval and you’re ready to go.
Getting the Word Out About Short Term Rentals
Now that you’ve got your short term rental posted, people should know about it. Here are some ways to get the word out.
- Tell your friends and family. Bring them by your rental before posting to get their opinions! Have an Open House of sorts for friends or local business owners to let them know about your property. This is best for whole house rentals or anything categorized in the OMG! Category of Airbnb instead of a single room or Next Gen. Ask them to share the word with people they know who may be traveling to the area of your rental.
- Speaking of local businesses, go to some bigger businesses and let them know about your rental. If they are bringing in clients or employees from other branches, this may be a more favorable option to a hotel. Print brochures for them.
- Announce your listing on your own personal social media.
- Start a business instagram account/facebook page. With a business facebook page, you can control both your business instagram and facebook from one place. Those photos you took for your listing? Share them here too. Spend a day at your rental, capture the beautiful sunrise, sunset, and everything in between. Use these photos, or zoom in on certain parts for social media posts and stories.
- Be sure to tag the location in your posts of the city you are in and use hashtags that will get you views.
- Also, once you have guests, leave a reminder somewhere in the house asking them to follow and tag your account in their posts. Then share their posts!
- Share reviews of your property from your public listing. Create an image with the wording of the review in a program like Canva to really make it stand out.
- If you’re within a close distance to any big upcoming events, find the event listings, or accounts associated with that event and post there (if allowed). For example, you’re 20 minutes from a sports stadium, find fan pages for that team and visiting teams to advertise. If there’s a big concert or other event coming to that venue, find out and advertise!
- Look for postings about local high school or college class reunion or alumni weekend coming up. Classmates who have moved away are looking for a place to stay.
These are just a few ways, to get the word out about your rental. And they’re free/cheap. Once you start making more money from your rental, you can consider advertising in alumni newsletters or taking out social media ads to reach more people.
Small Costs That Can Go A Long Way
You don’t have to spend a ton to make your short term rental a wonderful experience.
Before any purhcases are made, you’ll want to have a fire extinguisher. Note the location of it in your welcome letter to your guests.
Single Room Short Term Rentals
For single room rentals, consider making sure it’s a room further away from the other rooms in the house for privacy. Give it a deep clean, ceiling to floor and everything in between. Purchase fresh bedding, a mattress pad, new pillows, and a spare blanket. Purchase nice wooden hangers (like our favorites from Ikea) for the closet, and add two extra pillows on a shelf for guests.
A mini fridge with some bottles of water inside, a small coffee maker, and a basket of snacks and the needed coffee for the coffee maker are always a special and appreciated touch. A tv of course would be appreciated, but even more so with a listing of local channels. Proper curtains and/or blinds for privacy and to keep that early morning sun out are certainly small touches that go a long way.
Next Gen/Multigenerational Suites
Next Gen Suites or Multigenerational Suites are a room within a house that have a separate outside entrance, but also access to the house. Obviously you’d want to lock the access to your home if you have one of these. Perhaps an electronic lock of some sort so you can access when needed. Next Gen Suites usually resemble a studio apartment, a larger bedroom with a kitchenette and separate bathroom. They can also have a separate bedroom and a kitchenette/sitting room combo.
For this, consider everything mentioned previously, but now you’ve got a kitchenette and possibly a sitting room to consider. For the kitchenette, basic silverware and some cutting knives, a cutting board, cups, mugs, dishes, simple spices, and dish soap are all basic items to consider including. To step that up, add a few more kitchen basics than just salt/pepper/oil. Have sugar, garlic powder, oregano, and a few other basic spices available. Perhaps keep some Pop Tarts, or popcorn in the cabinets. Snacks for your guests that are individually wrapped. I always love to see granola bars in a basket after a long drive.
Comfortable furniture of course is a plus. A couch that folds out into a bed could be considered for either type or Next Gen, be it the bedroom/kitchen combo or sitting room/kitchen combo with separate bedroom. Perfect place for kids to sleep, or to use as an extra sitting room in your own house when you’re not using it as a rental.
Have cleaning supplies available. They’re also helpful to dedicate those supplies to just that room so you don’t have to carry your usual cleaning supplies for this area. Everything is already here.
Whole House Rentals
This is where things change a bit. With an entire home you’ll need more than just a few extra beddings. And it’s more than just a single room to clean. Of course you’ll want to have cleaning supplies available for guests to clean up any spills and whatnot. But unless you have an empty schedule after each rental, you probably won’t have time to give the house a full clean each time. This is where you may consider hiring a cleaning person and a handyman. People can be clumsy.
For the outside, patios and porches will need to be kept clean along with their furniture. You always want to make a good impression. Weeds will need pulled regularly, plants will need to be pruned, grass will need to be cut. Cracks in the driveway or sidewalk can quickly become a safety risk.
Check with friends, family, and your community to see who they use, or who may do this job themselves. You’ll want to keep the inside and outside of the home in pristine condition.
Make the backyard somewhere people WANT to hang out. Have comfortable chairs, a fire pit if allowed (with an extra extinguisher of course), skewers for s’mores or roasting hot dogs, and proper shading for sun protection. Perhaps consider an area for tetherball or horseshoes as entertainment for your guests during their stay.
Also of course, consider everything I mentioned above. Personal touches are always noticed. A whole home rental is usually done by guests staying longer than just a night. Make your rental like a second home for them. They’ll want to book with you on their return trip!
Other small investments to make your short term rental stand out:
Here are some other small investments you can consider for any size rental:
- Put together a binder with restaurant menus and coupons for local businesses. Include a list of local entertainment venues they may be interested in.
- Find a local artist and purchase some of their pieces. If you’re good with photography, consider taking some beautiful photos of features in your town to frame as artwork in your rental.
- Frame the wifi information so it stands out.
- Have a keyless entry system, or box to get a key. Your guests can then check in late if they’re running behind schedule and you don’t have to wait up for them or drive over if you aren’t close by.
- If you know your guests are coming from out of the area, consider grabbing a few local items for the kitchen. Maybe there is a local candy company, or soda/tea business. Individually contained items usually go over better. Add that touch of welcomeness.
Larger Investments to Consider
These may be for later down the road, when you’ve made a bit of money with your rental and can spare some extra money.
- Privacy fencing for the property.
- If a larger property, yard wise, consider a pool or spa down the road or a sports court.
- Outside lighting, more than just the light next to the door.
- Renovations around the home to update electricity and plumbing along with the look of the home.
- Hire a photographer to take photos of your rental for both the listing site and your rental’s social media pages.
- Higher end furniture not only looks great, but is sturdier to handle just about anything.
- A sprinkler system if an older home not built originally with one.
The rental sites may include some sort of protection policy for both guests and hosts. You may also want to check with your insurance company to see what extra coverage you should get in order to protect yourself and your home/property.
Short Term Rentals – Final Thoughts
If you have the space, this is a great way to make some extra money. If you don’t want to do it year round you don’t have to. Block of weeks to give yourself a break, or to stay on the property yourself. Perhaps you own a vacation home that you visit only a few times a year. Renting it out throughout the year to other travelers could very well pay the mortgage on the second property. If you live near a venue that hosts some huge concerts and events, you could just rent for those, weekend rentals only.
There are many benefits to this, but again, you’d have to weigh out the options to see if its right for you.
Here’s some other ways you can make money with your home!