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Dispelling Myths About Vacation Rentals: The Top Ten Things You May Not Have Known

Travelers are used to booking hotels, but for many the world of vacation rentals represents a great unknown, which may be why they’re the subject of so many myths, particularly in North America. Here are the top ten things you may not have known about vacation rentals:10. Vacation rentals offer daily maid serviceMost rental owners ensure that the rental is cleaned out prior to each new guest, and many offer daily maid services as well to ensure that the rental is as clean, if not cleaner, than a hotel room. Dirty rentals end up getting nasty reviews and don’t last long in the business, so homeowners always make sure that the cleanliness is top-notch. Of course, many travelers mistakenly assume that vacation rentals don’t have housekeepers, and that they’ll be forced to clear old ketchup out of the fridge leftover from the last guest, but this is not the case. In fact, owner’s will ensure that you find the rental in the exact same condition they expect you to leave the rental – that is, spotless and neat.9. Homeowners will welcome you and respect your privacyMost owners treat their rental as a business, meaning they want as many travelers passing through as possible, and also expect some normal wear-and-tear to result from each rental. Some travelers mistakenly assume that the owner will check in everyday to make sure no crumbs are left on the couch, but most will also only stop by to welcome you initially, after which they’ll only show up if you request it. After all, they know one of the reasons people love rentals is because of the privacy they offer, and they’re not about to jeopardize the chances of gaining your repeat business.8. Rental scams are rare and avoidable

This is probably one of the greatest sources of apprehension, since nothing spells nightmare like landing in an unknown area and finding out that not only does your vacation rental not exist, but that your security deposit is also gone. However, rental scams like that are far less common than you would think, and the average traveler can avoid them with some basic tips: only work with people that have a documented online rental history (e.g. reviews, listings that have been up for a few years, etc.), avoid free listing sites that don’t verify the identity of owners, and only browse sites that have personal relationships with owners.7. Owners avoid keeping your security depositSecurity deposits are usually $500 or more, so it’s normal for a traveler to worry about them. However, that $500 is nothing compared to the lifetime value of a happy houseguest, so there’s no way an owner is going to jeopardize your repeat business by keeping it without good reason. Of course owners need to protect themselves against abusive guests, but in the interest of building goodwill, many owners will turn a blind eye to the occasional spill on the couch just to keep you as a client.6. Vacation rentals offer great serviceMost owners have property managers that they employ to handle day-to-day issues with the rental, including any problems that may arise during your stay, which is why it’s always good to make sure that any owner you rent with has an on-site manager. Travelers mistakenly assume that, should something go wrong with the rental, it won’t get fixed until the next guest arrives, especially if the homeowner is faraway, but in fact many rental property owners pride themselves on the quick and friendly customer service they offer each guest.5. Vacation rentals come in all shapes and sizesMany people assume a vacation rental will be a house or villa. However, condominiums, townhouses in resort complexes, cabins, and other types of accommodation are also vacation rentals. Some, for example, feature pools, waterslides, theaters, and many of the other features you’d find in a hotel. Others are apartments that are located right in the heart of the city. A good vacation rental listing site will let you search for properties based on type to help you find the accommodations best suited for your needs.4. Vacation rentals are safeVacation rentals are a safe and reliable alternative to hotels, regardless of the region. This may be a more common concern in tropical areas, but many travelers think that because there’s no security guard, rentals are more dangerous than hotels. Many vacation rentals are enclosed in gated communities and include alarm systems. Of course, renters are always advised to use the same common sense as they would at home when it comes to locking the doors and minding their safety.3. Travel agents book vacation rentalsThis is more of a myth among homeowners, but in fact travel agents do book accommodations other than hotels. It’s just hard for them to find homeowners willing to work with them, since they usually negotiate a commission on each booking. That’s why travel agents usually stick with property management companies they have a relationship with, or they use agent-friendly websites. Once they find properties they can work with, they’ll often refer years of repeat business for the homeowner. That means if you’re a traveler, you can always request a rental from your agent, allowing you to browse options that differ from the usual hotel selection.

2. Vacation rentals have plenty of amenities Some travelers think that if you want to have fun at the pool, enjoy the beach, have video games for the kids, or enjoy a nice day at the spa, then they need to stay at a hotel. In fact, nothing can be further from the truth. Vacation rentals are designed with the enjoyment and comfort of the traveler in mind, which is why they often feature pools, private beaches, game rooms, spa services, and more. And the best part is you don’t have to share! Where else can you take a late night dip in the pool, or entertain guests with a dinner party? Homeowners are also happy to provide you with whatever you need to make your stay even more enjoyable, so if there’s something specific you need, don’t hesitate to ask.1. Vacation rentals come in all price rangesIt seems like the only time vacation rentals get press in mainstream publications is when they’re listing the top 10 most luxurious villas around the world. Unfortunately, this creates the impression that rentals only cater to the super-rich, but nothing can be further from the truth. Travelers can find vacation rentals in all price ranges, from $60 a night to $3,000 a night. Don’t be intimidated by the sticker price. Many properties have several bedrooms and can accommodate a dozen or more people. Divided by the number of guests, the prices for vacation rentals are often much more affordable than hotels.There you have it, the top ten things you did not know about the vacation rental world. Keep these facts in mind next time you plan a vacation and be sure to check out the assortment of vacation rentals at TravelRentalNetwork.com.

Vacation Rental Content

The vacation rental option is today proving to become more and more popular as it provides in most cases more space (multiple bedrooms and bathrooms, separate living areas), more amenities (fully equipped kitchens, fireplaces, private hot tubs), convenient locations (on the beach, ski-in/ski-out) and greater privacy than a hotel.Vacation rental by definition is a term used in the travel industry which means to rent out a furnished apartment or house on a temporary basis to tourists. This gives those going on a vacation and general tourists an alternative to leasing a hotel or motel room.Vacation rental content is mainly composed of websites that cater to owners of vacation rental properties who would like a place on the internet a listing these properties. Those who become interested in a vacation rental can then utilize these sites by browsing through the available listings of vacation rental properties and specials if any.To find vacation rental content one simply needs to go to a popular search engine such as Google or MSN search and type into the search box vacation rentals. At the time of this writing there were over 37 million pages with vacation rental content. You can narrow this down a bit by putting your
search term in quotes like “vacation rentals”. This will bring back just over 14 million pages with vacation rental content. That’s quite a lot of information to sift through!

You will also notice when you begin clicking on any links for vacation rental content that most of the first few hundred if not thousand pages are all focused on vacation rental directories or vacation rental content directed at guides and listings of vacation rental property owners. You have
to dig pretty deep and spend a lot of time before you find much information that is focused on helping the consumer to learn the ups and downs of vacation rentals.In some popular vacation and tourist locations the tremendous growth of vacation rentals has become such a threat to the local hotel and motel industry that the local authorities have begun passing regulations in an attempt to limit the growth of the vacation rental industry.Since it is our intention to cover information on both sides of the fence when it comes to vacation rental content we will be scheduling some articles specifically aimed at helping consumers learn more about the vacation rental industry so that you can make more informed choices and know exactly what you may be getting into when it comes to vacation rentals.For now we want to direct our attention to the vast amount of vacation rental content that one finds when beginning a search. As we stated above the vast amount of information related to vacation rental content one will find are vacation rental directories aimed mainly at those who may have a vacation rental property they would like to advertise or list so they can get them rented.Whether you’re seeking a vacation rental or need to list a vacation rental your options are tremendous. You do have a couple of ways to begin narrowing down these choices however. Most of the vacation rental content is divided between those sites that list global vacation rental properties and those that list regional or location specific vacation rental properties.One great place that we have found to begin if you’re seeking to find or need to list in a global vacation rental directory is Vacation Home Rentals. At the time of this writing you can find over 14,000 Vacation Rentals by Owner.At Vacation Home Rentals, it’s easy to find or list beach house rentals, home rentals and cabin
rentals for all over the United States and beyond. If you’re looking for something more exotic and need to list something out into the Pacific Ocean, they have a large selection of Hawaii vacation rentals listings where you can place or find great vacation rental content. They are not just limited to the United States, however. They also have vacation rental homes listings and holiday villas all over the globe. You can list or find Caribbean villa rentals across the region. If you’re looking for or need to list a European getaway, they have France vacation rentals, or maybe you would like to locate or list a Tuscany villa. Whatever your requirements Vacation Home Rentals is a great starting place to locate or list vacation rental content.

If your needs are more regional or location specific it’s not hard to find vacation rental content pertaining to the specific region or location of your choice. As an example Southeastern Homes contains vacation rental content that is specific to the beautiful mountains of Western North
Carolina. Here you can locate or list vacation rental cabins and real estate homes that range from rustic homes to the most elegant homes and cabins in the mountains.

Santa Barbara Vacation Rentals Versus Carpinteria Vacation Rentals

Now that Summer is approaching, I’m often asked by travelers to California’s Central Coast for the best way to lodge and experience beautiful Santa Barbara. Santa Barbara is a destination point filled with amazing lodging for tourists. Some of the most amazing hotels and Santa Barbara Vacation Rentals and campsites on this part of the scenic coast are available in this charming seaside town.What about those tourists seeking to experience the Central Coast without having to pay the high prices for food and lodging that is typical of Santa Barbara, including the Santa Barbara Vacation Rentals? Santa Barbara is bordered by Montecito, a small enclave of multi-million dollar homes and high scale dining. Forget it. Bit a little further down the ocean – only 12 miles – frugal tourists will find themselves in the charming seaside town of Carpinteria. Carpinteria is small – population of less than 15,000 residents.Many of the private and affordable Carpinteria Vacation Rentals are not only more cost effective than the heftily-priced Santa Barbara Vacation Rentals up the coast, but are also located right on the sand of what is known as “The World Safest Beach”.

While the small town is well represented with nice hotels, motels and a bed and breakfast inn, the most popular lodging each summer in Carpinteria is the Carpinteria State Beach Campsite which has become a tradition for many families visiting Carpinteria and Santa Barbara each summer. This campground is surrounded by a Salt Marsh Nature Park to the North and the seal and sea lion sanctuary to the South. Surrounding the same area are many private beach homes and condos that are rented out each summer as Carpinteria Vacation Rentals.Carpinteria is unique this way because these Carpinteria Vacation Rentals are located chiefly within 4 blocks of the ocean. And most of those are located on the famous Sandyland Road, a street that runs adjacent to the ocean front and is lined with private beach homes that are meticulously decorated with
beach and surfing themes. By contrast, Santa Barbara Vacation Rentals are not typically located anywhere close to the ocean because the city of Santa Barbara isn’t set up that way.Santa Barbara Vacation Rentals are mostly located inland, requiring a bus or taxi – or rental car – to reach the ocean. Santa Barbara is a sprawling city compared to the small feel of the tiny town of Carpinteria so Santa Barbara Vacation Rentals are located anywhere and everywhere in the city. In Carpinteria there is always enough time to enjoy the beach, restaurants and other points of interest and still have time to drive the 12 miles North to visit Santa Barbara, to partake of Santa Barbara’s amazing dining offerings.Santa Barbara Vacation Rentals are typically privately owned by well-to-do property owners who own and live in other properties and actually rent these properties out all year round. Owners meticulously decorate these fully stocked Santa Barbara Vacation Rentals with everything you need to live for a week. During the summer, Santa Barbara Vacation Rentals and Carpinteria Vacation Rentals alike typically require at least a one week stay, even though some owners will entertain offers to stay with a three day minimum.The Santa Barbara Vacation Rentals and Carpinteria Vacation Rentals are usually stocked with sheets and linens, pots and pans, to make your weekly stay feel like home. Some owners even stock the closets with beach kites, Frisbees, boogie boards and beach umbrellas. These are amenities that you can’t get by going camping or staying at a hotel.

Typical costs differences between Carpinteria Vacation Rentals and Santa Barbara Vacation Rentals are considerable. In Carpinteria, you can expect to pay minimum of $1800 for a two bedroom vacation rental on the ocean for one week. The same size for Santa Barbara Vacation Rentals will cost $2500. In the Winter, Santa Barbara Vacation Rentals and Carpinteria Vacation Rentals plummet as far as rates to, as the Summer tourist season slows down and weekly rates switch to monthly rates.So what is the conclusion on the question of value when comparing Santa Barbara Vacation Rentals to Carpinteria Vacation Rentals? If you don’t mind driving 12 miles to visit Santa Barbara, then Carpinteria Vacation Rentals are the superior value. Otherwise, if you have no car and taxis and buses seem inconvenient, then Santa Barbara Vacation Rentals are probably the safest way to go.

Vacation Rentals by Owner Sites: Are they Profitable?

There are literally hundreds of Vacation Rentals by Owner sites and it seems new ones are appearing every week. On the face of it, it may seem like making money from a “vacation rentals by owner” site is easy: all you have to do is get 1,000 owners to sign up, each paying $100 per year, and you can generate an annual income of $100k with almost no running costs, right?Well, it’s not that simple. For a start, getting vacation rentals owners to pay for a listing on your site is not that easy, and secondly, if you expect to keep them, you will need to generate enquiries and bookings, which only come as a result of spending money, time and effort marketing your “vacation rental by owner” site.Compare Owner Holiday Rentals (http://www.compareownerholidayrentals.com) recently decided to take an analytical look at the business of running a “Vacation Rental by Owner” site.Some of you may be familiar with Michael Porter’s famous framework for analysing the attractiveness of an industry: based upon Porter’s model, you can predict how profitable a particular industry is likely to be in the long term. We have used this model to analyse the attractiveness of the business of running a “vacation rentals by owner” site.Porter’s model says that there are 5 factors which influence the level of competitive rivalry, and hence the relative profitability, of an industry. These are:1. The threat of entry by new competitors.2. The intensity of rivalry among existing competitors.3. Pressure from substitute products.4. The bargaining power of buyers.5. The bargaining power of suppliers.These factors can either have a positive or negative effect on the long term profitability of an industry. Let’s take each of these in turn and see how they can be applied to the business of running a “Vacation Rentals by Owner” site.1. The Threat of Entry by New Competitors: As already indicated, there are new competitors entering the “vacation rentals by owner” business on an almost weekly basis. The main reason for this is that the “barriers to entry” are so low: anyone with some IT skills can quickly build and publish a site, with the only cost being their time and some hosting charges. These low “barriers to entry” and the presence of so many new competitors are a negative for the profitability of the industry.

2. The Intensity of Rivalry among Existing Competitors: Free trials, free listings, reduced prices: all of these are indications of the increasing level of rivalry among the existing sites. Many of the new “vacation rental by owner” sites offer the first 6 or 12 months free of charge. Although some of the established “vacation rental by owner” sites have tried to hold the line on pricing and special offers, the indications are that they are finding it hard to hold their market share. Again, the level of rivalry is a negative for the industry profitability.3. Pressure from Substitute Products: By “substitute “products, we will restrict ourselves to other ways that vacation rentals owners can choose to market their properties. Hence, this includes newspaper / magazine advertising (a medium in declining usage), using rentals agencies (still highly used, particularly in Europe) and marketing via the Owner’s own website (which seems to be increasing, particularly with the advent of Google Ads). All the evidence suggests that more owners are using the internet for advertising their vacations rentals; even the rental agencies now heavily use “Vacation Rentals by Owner” sites for marketing their properties. Also, although there are exceptions, using the commercial “Vacation Rentals by Owner” sites is very much more effective than using a personal site. Hence, the pressure from substitutes is relatively low, the industry is growing and this is a positive for the industry profitability.4. The Bargaining Power of Buyers: Largely because there are so many options, including free trials and special offers, buyers (owners) have a lot of power when deciding where to list their properties. Also, the cost of switching to a different “vacation rental by owner” site is relatively low. Most owner’s review their advertising on an annual basis, based upon the results (enquiries, bookings) that they have received. “Vacation rental by Owner” sites that fail to produce results are not able to persuade owners to renew. Many new sites that start off by offering free trials fail to turn these into paying customers because they have not been able to attract renters in sufficient numbers to generate rental bookings. Hence, the bargaining power of buyers (owners) is a negative for the industry profitability.5. The Bargaining Power of Suppliers : In the context of running a “Vacation Rentals by Owner” site, the main services that site owners buy are “hosting” ( which is cheap and plentiful) and marketing/ advertising ( which is plentiful, but not that cheap). Since hosting is relatively unimportant, let’s focus on marketing/ advertising. As more and more “vacation rental by owner” sites come online, getting good results on search engines such as Google is getting harder and harder. Hence, “Vacation Rentals by Owner” sites are experiencing the need to invest more in targeted marketing and advertising in order to attract renters to their sites. This eats into margins and is affecting the profitability of the business. Hence, although previously neutral, the bargaining power of suppliers is increasingly a negative for the industry profitability.So, with 4 out of 5 factors being negative, does that mean that this industry is so unattractive that it is impossible to make money running a “Vacation Rentals by Owner” site?Not necessarily, although undoubtedly it is getting tougher. In particular, smaller “me-too” vacation rentals by owner sites are unlikely to be able to be profitable enough to stay around for the long term, although new ones will probably continue to enter the market, start off by offering extended free trials, stay in the market for a couple of years and then fold.However, there are probably two ways you can build and maintain a profitable business in this industry.Firstly, some large “vacation rental by owner” sites will achieve sufficient scale (possibly through acquisition) to use their size to generate competitive advantage. These sites will have the critical mass of owners and visitors to be economically viable. As evidenced by the recent acquisitions that the WVR Group have made, it’s likely that some of the better smaller “vacation rental by owner” sites will get absorbed into such larger entities. Currently, VRBO and the WVR Group, (which owns a1vacations, Greatrentals, Cyberrentals and Holiday-Rentals amongst others) are the two 800 pound gorillas in the industry. Expect further consolidation to happen in the coming years.

However, it is also possible for a smaller “vacation rental by owner” site to be successful. To do this, it will need to carve out a profitable niche, possibly focusing on a particular geography or demographic to build competitive advantage. By focusing marketing efforts on a targeted group, these smaller sites will be able to attract vacation rental owners and renters. Hence, expect to see an increase in the number of specialist sites ( e.g. Petfriendlytravel focusing on renters with pets), possibly offering add-on services that differentiate them from the larger “vacation rental by owner” sites. Indeed, many small regional sites offer full vacation rental management services, from booking through handling changeover, as an alternative to the model which relies upon the owner to manage everything themselves.Conclusions:It is inevitable that the business of running a “vacation rental by owner” web site will change in the coming years. Although the overall market will grow as people continue to move away from traditional package holidays and embrace holidays using vacation rentals, it is likely that “vacation rentals by owner” sites will split into two camps: the large sites with the critical mass to cost-effectively market thousands of properties, and the smaller, niche sites, that offer some unique differentiating factor to be attractive to a more targeted group of owners and renters.

Free Vacation Rentals Listings Sites

Although vacation rentals owners should not rely on FREE vacation rental listings sites to generate the majority of their bookings, they can be helpful in filling vacancies. However, how do you go about selecting the most appropriate FREE vacation rentals sites for your vacation rental?To start with, FREE vacation rental listings sites come in various forms. The type of free sites you should choose depends on the objectives and expectations you have for your listing on that vacation rental site.Firstly, there are new sites, who are seeking to build up the number of vacation rental listings on their site. In order to be attractive to renters, vacation rentals sites need to have a decent number of vacation rental properties listed. For new sites, the easiest way to generate new listings is to offer a free trial period, usually for a minimum of 6 months and often for more than 1 year. Once established with a strong pool of potential renters visiting each day, the intent is for the vacation rental site to begin charging vacation rental owners for their listings and ultimately reduce or eliminate the free trial periods.Listing on these sites is somewhat of a long term bet. They are not likely to produce a lot of bookings in the short term, but as the site gets established in the vacation rentals market, they may well generate bookings for you.

Examples of this type of site are Villa Holiday Homes and Tenant.com, although there are many others. (You can find more information on these sites on the Compare Owner Holiday Rentals website.)A second type of site that offers FREE vacation rentals listings is the permanently free site. These are funded either by advertising (e.g. Google ads) or offer the opportunity to upgrade your free listing to a paid listing. Generally, the sites that offer a free upgrade tend to be a better bet for generating bookings, particularly if there are not many other vacation rental properties in your location listed on that site.An example of this type of vacation rentals site is Vacationrentals411, on which a basic listing is free, but which allows you to bid for a premium position in search results. (You can find a review of Vacationrental411 on the Compare Owner Holiday Rentals website.)A third type of FREE vacation rental listing is the “free trial” offered by some of the established vacation rental sites. This is a “try before you buy” model, with the intent being that you should be sufficiently impressed by the level of enquiries and bookings for your vacation home during the trial period that you will go ahead and pay for a listing at the end of the trial period. Trial periods are usually relatively short (between 1 and 3 months).These sites are generally quite effective at generating bookings, although once the free trial period is complete, you will then need to pay for your listing (and most sites can identify vacation rental owners who have previously availed of a free trial). For best use, I would recommend you sign up for these trials during the “busy” season for bookings in the location of your vacation rental: this has the highest chance of generating bookings and also provides the best test of whether this particular vacation rental site works for the location of your vacation rental.Examples of this type of vacation rental sites are Homelidays and VacationHomeRentals. (You can find reviews of these sites on the Compare Owner Holiday Rentals website.)Finally, there are sites which offer FREE classified listings. The most famous of these is Craigslist, although US Freeads is another popular example. The primary drawback with these sites is that you need to continually repost your listings, although they can be effective, particularly for filling specific vacancies at relatively short notice.

With all of these free options, why would anyone pay for their vacation rental home to be listed on a vacation rentals site?The answer lies in the fact that most free vacation rental sites will generate fewer enquiries and bookings than the paid sites. However, it’s still worth listing your vacation rental home on several of these free vacation rental sites: after all, what do you have to lose?(Research completed by Compare Owner Holiday Rentals shows that you should list on at least 3 paid sites, plus a number of free sites in order to optimize bookings. You can find more details in the articles section of the Compare Owner Holiday Rentals website.)For a list of some of the better FREE vacation rentals sites, visit http://www.compareownerholidayrentals.com Sign up for the free newsletter to get a list of FREE vacation rentals sites, plus some special offers on paid sites.

How to Book a Vacation Rental Home

While there is a growing abundance of options when it comes to booking a vacation home, many travelers still find the rental market to be a little chaotic – at least in comparison to more traditional accommodations like hotels/motels. The increasing popularity of vacation rentals as a value-packed alternative to pricier hotels has led to an abundance of options that can be overwhelming.Here are some tips for booking your vacation rental to ensure that you are getting the most bang for your buck, while protecting yourself from scams or disappointment.Booking a Vacation Rental Tip #1: Check out niche listers that focus on specific destinations.Whether you’ve rented a vacation villa before or not, you’ll want to work with a local company and representatives who know their stuff.If you’re interested in a Santa Barbara beach house rental, a qualified representative will earn their stripes by walking you through the suitable available properties based on your unique needs and desires. For instance, if you’re bringing your three Bernese mountain dogs, they’ll recommend Santa Barbara beach rental locations that are both dog-friendly and bric-a-brac-free.Additionally, once you arrive, you’ll want to enjoy concierge services to help you get reservations at that trendy new restaurant, or simply recommend a hike that overlooks the ocean. An anonymous operator three states away won’t be able to deliver that level of local service.Booking a Vacation Rental Tip #2: Use a credit card to protect yourself and minimize risks.You want and expect every detail of your vacation to be perfect. But unfortunately that won’t always be the case. So you need to protect yourself.Renting with your credit card through a Santa Barbara vacation rental management company offers you that protection. If for some reason the property doesn’t meet your expectations, and the management won’t do anything to fix it, you can keep a record of the problem and dispute the charge with your credit card company.Property owners who rent person-to-person usually insist on a cashier’s check for 50 percent of the vacation rental to reserve it, and then the other 50 percent in cash upon your arrival. If you later discover roaches scuttling through the kitchen of your vacation home, or other elements of the property that were grossly misrepresented, you will have no leverage because you will have already paid in full in cash.

Booking a Vacation Rental Tip #3: Get the most bang for your buck.Dollar for dollar, a vacation rental gives you so much more than a luxury hotel. You get exponentially more space (both indoors and outdoors). You get a host of amenities from private pools to high end kitchens to top flight entertainment systems, all for your exclusive use. Unlike an anonymous hotel room off a crowded corridor, you have a serene home away from home to call your own.But there are a host of priceless intangible benefits you get when you book your vacation rental through a professional management company. Working with a premier management company to find your ideal vacation home gives you a whole new level of service. A professional company has skin in the game. They are working to establish a good reputation and a list of return clientele, rather than just trying to make fast money.In the-best-surprise-is-no-surprise category, unlike an absentee owner off Craigslist, a professional Santa Barbara rental company has someone who is troubleshooting issues 24/7, working hard to keep both the renters and the owners happy.The most underused amenity is the professional staff. Once you arrive at your rental villa in Santa Barbara, they are at your beck and call. Concierge and housekeeping services are a mere button-touch away. The staff’s local Santa Barbara knowledge and connections can turn an average vacation into something amazing. There is no extra cost, and the return is priceless.Booking a Vacation Rental Tip #4: Book with confidence.There’s a HUGE difference between someone who just wants to sell you a room, and a professional vacation rental company that wants to make sure that you enjoy your ultimate Santa Barbara vacation so much that you return again and again. The key to that difference is delivering on what is promised.Many vacation rental agencies are just big clearing-houses that list properties, sometimes all over the world. They do not usually specialize in a region and offer no other services, aside from rental matchmaking. They can’t make guarantees about the Santa Barbara beach house rental you’ve booked because their representatives have never visited them, inspected them for health and safety concerns, or even met the owners. They cannot vouch for the actual condition of the vacation rental property, the advantages/disadvantages of the location, etc.Some agencies just want to book the beach rental and collect their fee. They may not care too much about what happens during your stay.If you’ve never visited the Santa Barbara beach rental house you’re considering, or gotten a firsthand report from a trusted friend, you have no idea whether the photos you’ve seen on the web site are an accurate representation. They might be outdated, retouched or from an entirely different place. (It goes without saying that you should never rent a vacation rental that doesn’t offer photos!) Beware of any site that only offers view or exterior shots. If they’re not willing to show you what the vacation house rental looks like inside, you don’t want to stay there.With a professional vacation rental company, you can be assured that the quality you see is the quality you will get.Booking a Vacation Rental Tip #5: Go with the highest standards of quality.Professional vacation rental agencies are held to higher standards than private owners. Even if an owner fervently believes that their Santa Barbara vacation rental is clean and up-to-date, their standards might not match your own. One person’s no-visible-dust-bunnies and hi-fi-system are another person’s filthy and anachronistic. A professionally managed Santa Barbara vacation house rental will also be a professionally cleaned and maintained vacation house rental.Booking a Vacation Rental Tip #6: Understand the risks of booking through free listing sites like Craigslist.Listing on a free site is, well, free. No crime in that (who doesn’t love free?), but that might point toward a general laissez-faire attitude the owner has toward his property and tenants.

The owners who are willing to pay a fee to keep their vacation houses booked and in first-class condition have already demonstrated their care and commitment to a working relationship that is beneficial to all parties. The management companies they work with are companies you can rent from worry-free.Booking a Vacation Rental Tip #7: Don’t be afraid to negotiate.The more often these vacation rentals are occupied, the happier the owners are, so if you are planning a last-minute or a long-term stay or if you are a frequent visitor, there is often room to negotiate on the price of your vacation rental. Sometimes the discount might be as much as 30 percent.Booking a Vacation Rental Tip #8: Do your research and compare rates, amenities, and conditions before entering into a rental agreement.When you’re trying to narrow down your choice of a Santa Barbara vacation rental, be sure you’re comparing apples to apples. A smaller house on the beach will likely cost more than a larger one in the hills. Know what you’re getting from each property, and from each management company. Follow your gut and go with the company that will cheerfully show up in the middle of the night to snake the sink.Another benefit to working with a Santa Barbara vacation rental professional management company is that it’s so easy to do a background check on them. Call or visit the Better Business Bureau or a vacation rental site like FlipKey.com. Has the firm had any reasonable complaints lodged against them? How were they resolved? Type the name of the Santa Barbara vacation rental firm and its owner into Google and you’ll get a wealth of informative opinions.The increasing popularity of Santa Barbara vacation rentals has led to an abundance of online resources. Your best bet is to do due diligence and compare rates, amenities, reputations, views, and conditions before entering into a rental agreement. It’s your vacation and booking the right accommodations will help you ensure that your holiday will meet and exceed your expectations.

Marketing Your Vacation Rental Home Part Two – Online Marketing

This article, part two of a series, will help vacation rental home owners learn more about marketing a rental property online. It is important to understand that people who are looking for a vacation rental home are generally looking for more than they can get with a brand-name hotel. They typically want space, privacy, laundry facilities and – almost always – a cheaper rate than if they stayed in a hotel.The one major difference between booking a private vacation rental home and a branded hotel chain is that you know ahead of time what you will be getting when you book with a hotel chain. Plus, if things are not quite right, you always have the manager on hand to sort things out for you. On the other hand, vacation rental homes are almost always privately owned and operated, and in the past you never could be sure just what you would be getting.The Internet has changed everything about marketing a rental property. Now, prospective renters can visit a website to view pictures and read information about a vacation rental home before making a final decision – which means that online marketing of a rental property should be a major priority.The Benefits of Marketing a Rental Property OnlineBy marketing your rental property online, you have the perfect low-cost way of showing that vacation rental home to the world. Online marketing can put you on an even footing with the big hotel chains; in fact, it actually gives you an advantage. While their sites will be practical and informative, you can take time and TLC to make your site warm and welcoming while reassuring prospective renters that your vacation rental home will more than fill their requirements.Plus, establishing a website for your vacation rental home gives you a global presence. While the vacation rental market in the United States may still be in its infancy, it is the norm in many other countries for families to stay in vacation rental homes rather than hotels. Marketing a rental property on the Internet can help an owner in the U.S. reach families from abroad and draw them to the home.

Putting Your Vacation Rental Home OnlineThere are several ways in which you can use the Internet for marketing your rental property:
Create your own website

List your vacation rental home with a property rental agent or manager

List your vacation home on one of the many vacation rental sites
While all three options for marketing a rental property have their place, creating your own Internet site is essential. Having your own site gives you complete control of how your vacation rental home is displayed to potential renters. If someone contacts you wanting to rent your home, do you really want to send them to a site that contains other homes similar to your own? Remember, there are always other owners out there who are also involved in using the Internet for marketing their rental property and who will undercut you just to get the rental. Listing sites can help you reach more people, but in the end you want a renter to see your individual site.Creating Your Own Site for Your Vacation Rental HomeYour website should consist of the following standard pages, which are all important for optimally marketing your rental property:
Home Page

Property Description

Photo Gallery

Visitor Information

Rates

Contact Information
The Home PageThe Home page is probably the most important part of your strategy for marketing your rental property, as this is a visitor’s first point of contact with your home. Make sure the design of your home page is simple, clean and uncluttered. Consider adding two pictures instead of just one to make your site stand out from the competition. One picture can be the traditional front-of-the-home shot, while the other image can be of something that sets the rental property apart – a great view, a beautiful sunrise, a scene by the pool, and so on. You can also consider taking a picture of the house lit up at night, which will certainly make the image memorable.The TextYou will also need to write text that helps you with marketing your rental property. This step does not have to be difficult, but you should take time and give some thought as to what you want to say. You want to sell your home, not just state the facts. The text should help prospective renters imagine kicking back by your pool with a cool drink while watching the kids splash around. Set the scene first, rather than starting with a list of the best things about your vacation rental home. Be descriptive and use your imagination so that you are marketing your rental property in a way that will make the reader want to find out more.In order to get some ideas of what to focus on in the text, ask yourself the following questions:
What do you your family and friends love about the vacation rental home?

What do you enjoy doing when you are there?

Is there something you have found that you love but is not generally known about on or near your vacation rental home?

What special features does your home offer?

What would you want to know if you were going to rent this property?
General Picture IdeasThe use of good quality pictures of your home’s exterior and interior cannot be overstated for successful marketing of a rental property. In a highly competitive area such as Florida, pictures could make the difference between securing a booking or missing out. Sometimes a potential guest will be considering several properties with the same features and at the same cost. In this case, guests will undoubtedly choose the vacation rental home they like the look of. This means that quality pictures are critical for successful marketing of your rental property. Common faults are images that are badly lit, that are taken from strange angles, that feature pool decks and porches devoid of furniture, or that have inappropriate things in view (wet towels, piles of papers, and so on).

Some additional things you may want to consider when marketing your rental property with photos are:
Consider using flowers. A fresh vase of flowers can be welcoming, but don’t go overboard, and don’t be tempted to move one vase of flowers around as you take pictures – it will look silly if the same vase keeps turning up in different rooms.

Set the tables. In the formal dining area, open a bottle of wine, fill wine glasses, light candles and use napkins. In the kitchen dining area, set it for dinner with the family, with more casual place settings, a pitcher of lemonade, and so on.

Make sure the kitchen of your vacation rental home sparkles. It should be spotless, with a bowl of fruit on the counter. Basically, you will want to make the home looked lived in and like you are just waiting for guests to arrive.

Make the bedrooms welcoming by turning down the sheets, fluffing up the pillows, and placing magazines and books on night tables.

Photograph the bathroom in the evening. Fill the tub, add lots of bubbles, light candles, have fluffy towels and perhaps a glass of red wine on hand to create an atmosphere.

Use a digital camera so that you can take hundreds of pictures of your vacation rental home. Even if you are not a photographer, you are sure to get some good ones that you can use for marketing your rental property.
Marketing a rental property with your own website can be a part of a strategy that uses many other techniques, from print ads to online listings on real estate marketing sites, allowing you to attract more renters to your property. Future articles in this series will explore additional avenues for marketing your vacation rental home and their benefits to you.

What You Need to Know about Vacation Rentals before You Go

That time of the year is finally here. You know what I’m talking about, the one or two weeks you get every year to escape from “real life” and just be you. Relax, eat and drink well, enjoy your family, catch up on some much needed sleep. But, before you pack up and head out, rethink the all-too-normal hotel stay. Believe it or not, you have options, one of which is the vacation rental.Wouldn’t it be nice to leave your own home, arrive in your destination city and settle into a “home away from home” for your next vacation? That’s what vacation rentals are all about. These are homes waiting to be rented out by people on vacation. Each vacation rental owner will have different criteria in what type of renter they are looking for, each vacation rental house will vary in amenities, and each price will be dependent on the time of year and the length of stay. So, it sounds like a great idea, but how do you figure out how to make it all happen? Not a problem. Below you will find answers to frequently asked questions regarding vacation rentals. Read on, my friend, your next “home away from home” vacation rental is right around the corner.Frequently Asked Questions on Vacation RentalsWhat are the advantages of a vacation rental?Do you ever wish your hotel room had just a little more personality? Yeah, I thought so. Well, renting someone else’s home for your vacation might just be the thing you’re looking for. Usually offering larger living spaces than hotel rooms, these vacation rentals are all about living like you were in your own home. They offer greater privacy than hotel rooms and most rentals have a kitchen area for cooking, which in the end will save you money if you prepare some of your own meals.You’ll enjoy several rooms, and maybe even different levels, instead of one big room where the whole family sleeps. Many owners will leave information on things to do and see in the local area. Vacation rental homes are clean, friendly, comfortable and inviting. This is because many of them aren’t just rental homes, but also function as the owner’s own residence for part of the year.A majority of vacation rentals tend to be cheaper on a per night basis than their hotel counterpart. By renting directly from the owner you will avoid taxes, tips and other extraneous charges. However, there is a wide variation among costs based on a number of factors (see How Much Should I Expect to Pay below)

What are the drawbacks of a vacation rental?Of course, there’s always the other side of the coin. As vacation rentals are not usually monitored by a central managing company, you’ll only know what you’re getting yourself into when you actually arrive to your rental. Many owners require pre-payment, or at least a large deposit fee, before arriving. Therefore, if things aren’t the way you anticipated after arriving, or if you find your dwelling unacceptable and decide to head to a local hotel, you may lose any money you prepaid. This is also true for last minute cancellations. There isn’t usually a refund. You always run the risk of getting less than you expected, but, it’s rare.Most times, vacation rentals tend to be cheaper than an average hotel room per night. But, not always, so make sure you are comfortable with the price you will be asked to pay.Another disadvantage to vacation rentals is the lack of a managing member on site to deal with any problems that you may encounter with the home or during your stay in general. Most owners get around this by having a list of emergency numbers, utility companies and other such items available to the renter should they need anything.What amenities are included in a vacation rental?Since every rental is owned by a different owner, each will include different amenities. Some come with swimming pools, hot tubs, others with golf packages, and horse stable privileges. In cities with tourist attractions, some owners include tickets to local attractions.Most vacation rentals come with the essentials: TV, equipped kitchen, towels, linen, and everyday appliances, but it never hurts to ask these questions when searching for the perfect place. Be sure to understand exactly what you are paying for before sending in the payment.What types of rentals are available?Pretty much any type of dwelling that you would want to live in during your vacation is available somewhere. From studios in downtown Manhattan to a villa in the south of Spain, you’ll be able to find what you’re looking for. The range of available options is mind boggling. Additionally, each week, month and year there are new possibilities as owners put their homes up for only certain weeks or months of the year, the choices are constantly changing.Are vacation rentals only available in the US?Vacation rentals are available worldwide. They can be found in every state of the US and almost every country in the world. Don’t be fooled by their different names, though. Vacation rentals are also known as holiday cottages, tourist rentals and holiday rentals. If you are looking for one in Europe, the Italians call them agriturismi, while the French say gites. If you are in Germany you will be looking for ferienwohnungen (yep, try to say that three times fast with a bratwurst in your mouth!)Regardless of what you call it, though, a vacation rental is a great option for those getting ready to take a few weeks off from reality and enjoy the good life a bit.How do I find a property?There are several ways to go about finding the perfect vacation rental for your next trip. Check with your local travel agent to find someone in your area that specializes in finding owners and renters and getting them together. Another option is the yellow pages. Finally, there is a wealth of information on the Internet. Type in a search for “vacation rentals” and over 13,300,000 websites can be found just on http://www.google.com alone. Some websites only list vacation rentals in the United States while others specialize in vacation rentals worldwide. There are some sites that will allow the potential renter to look for a residence by specific search criteria such as a particular destination, certain number of bedrooms and types of amenities that are included in the property.Most of the vacation rental services on the internet are only the “go-between” or the “classified” section of the newspaper. They take no responsibility for the truth or correctness of the ads that are listed on their sites. So, do your homework by making phone calls, speaking with the owner and asking specific questions. Make sure you feel comfortable with the answers, if not, move on to the next rental, there are plenty.If you’re not comfortable with the whole renter/owner thing, there is another way to rent a vacation home. Some companies exist that strictly buy and rent out homes to vacationers. They offer a bit more security so that you feel you are truly getting what you bargained for (although nothing is ever 100% fool proof). Additionally, sometimes these agencies will give you cancellation insurance. In other words, if you cancel before arriving, they may be able to refund a portion of your deposit or payment instead of keeping it as most owners do if a cancellation occurs. With some agencies you’ll find that you pay a higher price than going directly to an owner. This is how the agencies make their profits. There are always pros and cons to each scenario. Ensure you know which one works best for you.

How much should I expect to pay?This is a tough question to answer. The amount you pay will depend on what country or state you are visiting, number of days you are staying, and type of house you are renting. Some owners offer package deals including tickets or sightseeing events along with the rental, others include bonus days if you stay for a certain length of time. There are other owners who may offer free or add-on house cleaning service with your stay while some go to great efforts to ensure you have everything you need, even additional items such as a crib, highchair or wheelchair. Each vacation rental will be entirely different than the next. Your best bet after deciding on your destination is to review multiple rentals to determine which is better suited to your needs and overall budget.Are there any hidden fees?Hidden fees usually only emerge after you have arrived. These may include extra for phone calls, house cleaning service, extra person fees, excess heat and air-conditioning bills, pet deposit, computer access… etc. Again, be extremely thorough when interviewing the owner of your prospective vacation rental. Ask about any “extra” fees, or if the house is “all-inclusive”. Do you have free access to all the pantry and food items? How about the laundry supplies? All utilities? It never hurts to ask!Vacation RentalsIn summary, cover all bases by asking lots of questions. Getting your agreement in writing is also a very smart idea. After these basics are out of the way you will be ready to take off for your home-away-from-home vacation rental. Try one this year and see for yourself that vacation rentals can be a fantastic means to really getting the full enjoyment out of your next vacation.

How to Turn Your House Into a Vacation Rental

Turning your house into a vacation rental can seem overwhelming at first… but it really doesn’t have to be. This is a process that you can really enjoy and have fun with! I have set up houses as vacation rentals dozens and dozens of times, for my client’s properties, as well as my own houses. I understand what is involved and required from every aspect, from assuring the property is in compliance with governmental agency rules and regulations, to making sure it has all the essentials that most guests require. In my commitment to assuring that my clients are continually successful with their vacation rental houses, I often find myself in the role of ‘vacation rental counselor,’ mostly pertaining to governmental agency and code compliance, quality assurance, and ongoing property maintenance required to meet the current industry standard.So, with that in mind, it’s important to begin with the basics when you decide to offer your house as a vacation accommodation to travelers. In this article I will provide you with the 5 most important steps to follow to assure your vacation rental success. As you read through this, I advise you to consider the fact that your house is in a unique town or city, that this article is a general guide, and that it is critical for you to become aware of your local community sentiment, and rules and regulations about short-term rentals. Always remember, your house is a private property, it is are not a hotel, and preparing your house and managing it as a vacation rental accommodation for tourists must be carefully and thoughtfully done.1 – LAWS, ORDINANCES, RULES, AND REGULATIONSThe very first thing you need to do is to educate yourself about your local city, county, and state laws, ordinances, and rules and regulations pertaining to offering your house as a vacation rental in your unique community neighborhood. Please don’t just assume that because it’s your property, you can do whatever you want with it. And, please don’t put a lot of effort and expense in setting up your house as a rental for tourists until you rule out the possibility that there are laws preventing you from doing so. Many local and state government agencies have clear regulations stating that setting up your house to rent as a vacation rental turns it into a business, and it will probably be subject to some level of city, county, and / or state licensing. Many governing agencies also require that to legally rent your house as a short-term rental, you must collect local and state tax from tourists who rent your property.A quick search in the vacation rental news reveals, that as short-term rentals become more and more popular, many communities have licensing restrictions and very specific rules and regulations regarding renting houses short term to tourists. Call your local town or city governmental offices and get to the appropriate licensing department that can answer your specific questions. Find out what specific licenses and / tax numbers you need to legally rent your house, and get them. I highly recommend that you seek the assistance of an established licensed local rental agency that can properly assist you understanding and complying with licensing and tax requirements required in your community.2 – YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD AND YOUR NEIGHBORSNow that you’ve determined that it is legal for you to rent your house as a vacation rental, and you’ve obtained the proper licenses and tax numbers, it’s time to think about the neighborhood where your rental house is located. This might seem silly, and many people gloss over this important step, but believe me you can save massive headaches and fights with neighbors by dealing with this issue pro-actively. Nearly every news article you read on communities that are resisting or trying to restrict vacation rentals point to the same neighbor issues: noisy tourists staging loud parties, tourists taking parking spaces from local residents, and tourists being careless with their garbage.In all the years I’ve been in the vacation rental business I’ve seen several neighbor-to- neighbor squabbles that have involved code enforcement, the police, and even expensive law suits. Most of these issues could have been avoided with plain common sense and consideration. Find out who your neighbors are, and do your best to communicate with them and determine if they will resist you renting your house to tourists.Once you begin renting your house to vacationers, you need to commit to being selective about who you rent your house to. It is important to talk with them and determine if they will be a ‘good fit’ for your neighborhood. Ask them directly what they plan to do while they are renting your house for their vacation. For example, if you discover a potential guest is planning to rent your house to accommodate a wedding party or a birthday party, think about the impact on your neighbors and if they will be okay with this. Some properties I manage are in neighborhoods that will only tolerate very quiet couples, others are set up to accept larger groups and the neighbors are clear on this and understand the rules. Know your neighborhood, and set up your own ‘House Rules’ that your tourist tenants must agree to comply with.

The biggest complaint that most neighbors have who live next to vacation houses is noise. Some neighbors are more ‘noise sensitive’ than others, and you need to know if your neighbor is going to call the police every time a group of vacationers sit around the swimming pool and listen to music. Give neighbors who live next to your rental your phone number, and ask them to call you directly if there is a noise problem. And when there is a problem, call the guests and ask them to quiet down. Since you are renting your house to tourists, it is your responsibility to make sure the guests you bring into your rental house are respectful of the local neighborhood.3 – FURNISHING YOUR HOUSE AS A VACATION RENTALFurnishing your house can be daunting if you’ve never done it before. Below is a very detailed list of basic home furnishing items you will need to provide. This includes suggestions for bed configurations, kitchen essentials, soft goods, and household items. Your guests will be looking for the basic comforts most of us look for in our daily living.Enjoy setting up your house for tourists – and strive to strike a balance between nice and economy. If you are striving to attract a ‘higher end’ clientele add some nice touches and things that you would appreciate if you were ‘a guest in your own house.’ You don’t need to purchase all new items, but please doesn’t use junk or your house will start to look like an unappealing garage sale. Add some interesting art work, wall mirrors, artificial plants, and some nice nick-nacks – just take care not to overdo it or it can start to look cluttered. Some personal pictures (a shot with your friends or family members) are nice to place on shelves… it reminds guests that they are in some one’s house, and not a hotel.Suggested Bed Size Lay OutYour vacation rental property needs to be practical and ‘user friendly’ as well as beautiful to look at. I have found the following general layout to meet the demands of most guests. As a general rule, avoid putting too many extra beds in a bedroom, you do not want to give the message of ‘the more the merrier.’ If your property has an office or den, it is a nice feature to add a desk or set up an office.Try to make the ‘nicest’ bedroom the master bedroom. The nicest bedroom is usually determined by the view and features – such as en-suite bathroom, private deck, French doors that lead to the swimming pool or porch, or it can just be the largest bedroom if the property offers no other unique features. If your property has more than one bedroom with an en-suite bathroom and/or view than you are lucky to have a property that can be marketed with more than one master bedroom or suite… and that is a fantastic feature. That way, couples traveling together don’t have to ‘flip for’ the best bedroom!About bed sizes: The layout below is suggested after nearly 2 decades of being in this business and listening to what guests require. Today, it seems like most people sleep in king size beds at home, and many couples who stay in vacation rentals insist on a king bed. For some couples, not having a king bed option can be a ‘deal breaker’ since they are convinced they won’t be able to sleep in a smaller bed with their partner. So that being said, here are the basic suggested guidelines…
Two Bedroom House
Bedroom 1: Master bedroom – Prefer King bed. If room is too small use a Queen.Bedroom 2:- 2nd bedroom – Queen or 2 twins. (I find that 2 twins are a better option as they can be pushed together to make a King.)
Three Bedroom House
Bedroom 1: Master bedroom – Prefer King bed. If the room is too small use a Queen.Bedroom 2: 2nd bedroom – Queen or King or 2 twins.Bedroom 3: 3rd bedroom – 2 Twins or Trundle bed
Four Bedroom House
Bedroom 1: Master bedroom – Prefer King bed, but if the room is too small use a Queen.Bedroom 2: 2nd bedroom – Queen or KingBedroom 3: 3rd bedroom – Queen or King or 2 twins.Bedroom 4: 4th bedroom – 2 Twins or Trundle bedGuideline for Cookware and Kitchen ItemsEquip your vacation rental kitchen with basic cookware and kitchen items. Buy a good set of good cookware, as much quality as you can afford. It does not pay in the ‘long run’ to get the cheapest as it will not last, but not necessary to buy the very best either. Sometimes you can find a nice stainless steel set in a box. Do not get the cheap aluminum stuff.
Stove Top Pans: Provide a basic set of 2, 4, 8, and 10 quarts.
Skillets: 7 and 10 inch
Oven Pans: Glass baking dishes: 9X13 and 8X8, roasting pan with lid (holiday dinners),cookie sheet, muffin tin, 1 pie pan, 2 cake pans, 1 pizza pan.
Mixing Bowls: 2 large: 8 – 10 quarts; 2 medium: 2 – 4 quarts; and 2 small: 1 – 2 quarts. These can be stainless or glass. These can also be used as serving bowls.
Knives: Paring, large vegetable, butcher, bread, and a sharpener.
Cook Prep Items: Colander, spatulas (1 medium size, l large size), mixing spoons (1 large, 1 medium), wire whisk, can opener (a good manual one is best), plastic cutting boards (1 large and 1 small), measuring spoons, rolling pin, ladle, funnel, and tongs.
Small Kitchen Appliances: Toaster, coffee pot (electric drip – Mr. Coffee Style), blender (good quality that will spin frozen drinks)
Other Kitchen Items: 2 to 4 pot holders and trivets, placements for complete table setting, 6 dish towels, teapot (for steeping tea; not essential but nice), bread basket, aluminum foil, and plastic wrap.
BBQ Grill: Inexpensive gas grills are best. Plan on replacing them about every couple of years.
Flatware and Serving Ware: Dinner plates, soup / cereal bowls, small plates (Service for 8 – 10 works best for property that sleeps up to 8), glasses (service for 8-10), flatware (service for 10 plus meat fork), 6 to 8 Serving spoons, 2 slotted spoons, coffee mugs or coffee cups and sauces (service for 10), 2 to 3 serving bowls and platters for hors d’oeuvres, or maybe a turkey or roast. Bright colorful serving bowls are nice and also help to add a ‘pop of color’ to the kitchen.
Cleaning Supplies (keep in property for guests): Hand dish soap, dishwasher soap, degreaser, window cleaner, cleaning cloths, large 2 to 3 gallon plastic bucket, mop, 2 brooms (1 for inside and 1 or outside),1 dust pan
Guideline for Soft Goods Equip your vacation rental house with nice quality bedding, towels, and window coverings. Do not buy the cheapest soft goods. They won’t last and you will likely receive complaints. Guests expect good quality towels and linens and will write bad reviews for poor quality items. You can save money by purchasing from discount warehouse and home furnishing stores.
Towels: For a 2 bedroom rental – 12 bath towels, 12 hand towels, and 8 wash clothes; for a 3 bedroom rental – 14 bath towels, 14 hand towels, 14 wash clothes; for a 4 bedroom rental – 16 bath towels, 16 hand towels, 16 wash clothes
Sheets and Pillow cases: 2 sets for each bed. Get at least 400 count sheets
Bedding Protectors: Mattress covers for each mattress zip pillow protectors for each bed pillow (these go on the pillow before the pillow case).
Bed spreads or comforters: We take our cue from high end hotel rooms. At this writing (2011) travelers like duvet covers (over comforters) and / or mattalesse coverlets in the contemporary market. Bed covers MUST be washable.
Decorative and Comfort Items: Throw pillows, 2 or 3 blanket throws, throw rugs, door mats
Beach / Pool Towels – 2 per bedroom
Window coverings – Nice curtains and / or blinds
Entertainment and Internet Service:Flat Screen TV’s: People expect TV’s in the bedrooms as well as the main living room / great room. I recommend a large TV (minimum 36 inch) in the living room, and smaller ones in the bedrooms (15 – 24 inch are fine). Small flat screen TV’s need to be mounted on the wall or bureaus for security reasons.Cable TV or Satellite: Don’t offer ‘pay per view’ features. It’s too hard to keep track of those charges.Internet (DSL): WiFi router is an expected feature. Almost all tourists travel with laptops… and they get upset if they don’t have internet access. Most renters do request WiFi.Stereo and C/D player: Most guests travel with iPods in today’s market, but most still expect some kind of music player. This should not be an expensive unit. It can be a large ‘boom box’ type with detachable speakers and should be large enough that people do not try to take it outside.4 – Maintenance and HousekeepingYour vacation rental must be well maintained and kept immaculately clean. Keep in mind, that while your house is not a hotel, you are offering it as a vacation accommodation to travelers, and guests will expect maintenance and cleanliness standards set by nice hotels. This is not a place to cut corners, and if you do, your house will soon appear on a travel log such as Trip Advisor, Flip Key, or rental review sites with negative comments. Bad reviews about poor cleaning and maintenance, even if they are exaggerated by unscrupulous guests, can quickly stigmatize your house and discourage future guests from renting it. You simply must commit to bearing the cost to keeping your house to quality standard.

Most vacation rental agencies collect a departure cleaning fee in advance from the guests to clean it when they leave. Guests expect and deserve to arrive to a clean and tidy property. Set a cleaning rate that will cover your costs to clean the house thoroughly each and every time guests depart. Make sure you plan enough time to clean the house, and better yet hire a good professional housekeeper. Make sure carpets and furniture are cleaned as needed. During periods when your house is not rented, be sure you give it a deep clean. Replace towels and linens with new ones as necessary, and never make a bed or make up a bathroom with tired or stained linens or towels.If your house has porches or decks and outdoor furniture, they must be kept scrubbed and free from mildew and look fresh for every guest who checks in. Same with windows, yards, landscaping, swimming pools, and Jacuzzi tubs – they must be maintained to quality standard or you will get complaints.This goes for household maintenance issues as well. You will need to hone your handy-man skills and make sure all the light bulbs work, a/c filters are changed, the internet is working, TV remotes work, the toilets are flushing properly, and the pool and Jacuzzi heaters are working right. You will also need to be ‘on call’ to go over to the property and provide minor repairs. Unless you live in the same town as your rental, and you are absolutely committed to maintaining it, hire professionals to do this for you. If you are not willing or able to do this, or cannot quickly respond to any maintenance needs, I strongly recommend that you hire a professional rental agency that is staffed up to provide these kind of services. It will save you a lot of head ache and could save the reputation of your rental house.5 – Managing Your Property – Advertising, Reservations, Rental Contracts, BookkeepingThe final basic step to turning your house into a successful vacation home is to start advertising it and taking reservations. Today, there are several mega-vacation rental advertising websites to choose from that have huge data bases of available rental properties. Most of these are set up so you can you can post your own ad copy and download your own property photos. Expect to pay over $500. to get positioned on-line so that prospective renters can find your property. You can also use social media such as Facebook and Twitter to promote the availability of your property.If you decide to manage your property yourself, you must be completely committed to every aspect of the administrative process. This means answering email and phone inquiries in a timely manner, maintaining an availability calendar, talking with potential guests to determine if they are appropriate renters for your house, writing and sending rental contracts to guests, collecting rental fees, collecting and paying required bed and / or sales tax, collecting and refunding security deposits (or determining costs where there is damage), paying housekeepers and maintenance people, paying utilities, keeping licenses current, and generally staying on top of the bookkeeping. There are several home-based reservation management software packages available to help you stay organized, but they will only work if you are diligent about keeping the information updated.You can also hire a locally established rental agency to provide professional management and advertising services for you. Over the years, I have seen many people try to advertise and manage their own vacation property, and end up finding the process too time consuming and daunting. If they live in the same town as the rental house, they end up spending all their “free time” (and then some) operating their property. And if they live in a different location, they find it too overwhelming to effectively manage from a distance. I strongly urge that you hire an established locally operated vacation rental agency that understands the entire scope of the business and the community where you’re your house is located. http://vacationhomesofkeywest.comCindy Rhoadescopyright @ 2011

Find Florida Vacation Rentals

Florida Vacation Home RentalFlorida vacation rentals make visiting Florida more fun, from the top of the state to the southernmost of the Keys. You can enjoy all the comforts of home while visiting Florida, by staying in fully furnished vacation rentals. Choose a luxury villa, beach house, vacation condo, or home rental near pristine sunny beaches or in the action of areas like Miami, or South Beach. There are exciting destinations for the whole family to enjoy everywhere you go in Florida, from the top down.St. Augustine, New Smyrna Beach, Northern Atlantic Coast Beach summer Vacation rentalsBegin your visit on the Atlantic Coast North. Stretching south from the Georgia border to Cape Canaveral, this area has prime tourist attractions. You can watch a launch of one of the space shuttles or review NASA history at Kennedy Space Center, on Merritt Island. Take photos of natural fauna such as alligators, the reclusive manatee, or bald eagles when you tour the neighboring National Wildlife Refuge or Canaveral National Seashore Park.White sands, safe swimming, and fishing are close when you pick summer rentals or a home rental vacation in the New Smyrna Beach area. Enjoy intracoastal waterfront rentals at family oriented Ormond Beach, north of Daytona. Palm Coast is another fast growing canal community. Vacation homes, condo rentals, and cottage rentals here put you right in the swing of things with some of the top golf courses to be found in Florida.For a leisurely look at history, choose Florida vacations and Florida rentals in historic St. Augustine. There are over 144 blocks of historic sites and buildings to see, and by choosing a local vacation rental you will be able to truly enjoy living history.

Orlando, Disney World and Central Florida Vacation Resort RentalsAnother very popular area for vacation rental homes, condos, and owner rentals is the exciting Disney/Orlando/Central Florida region. Orlando and Walt Disney World top the list for fun and family vacation adventure in everyone’s book. The largest city in Florida, Orlando, is nearby to the world’s best known family theme park and resort, Walt Disney World, and the educational adventures at Sea World, and Universal Studios. This is one place for family fun, and when you have house rentals, villas, and other rental property galore to choose from, it makes your vacation most affordable and easier to handle because of the home-like atmosphere and conveniences of home that you have at your disposal.Panama City, Fort Walton Beach Florida Panhandle Vacation RentalsThe Panhandle Region of Florida offers much to see and do in this northwestern stretch of land along the top of the Gulf of Mexico. Tour the state capital of Tallahassee, and drive on the Christopher Columbus Transcontinental Highway that is part of I-10 east-west from Jacksonville, FL to Santa Monica, CA. There are several major military bases in the Panhandle Region, including the Naval Air Station at Pensacola. Other popular and famous vacation and winter destinations in this area are Fort Walton Beach, and Panama City. These towns have quartz sand beaches that are extremely white, and not found elsewhere. This is an ideal place to find vacation home rentals, beach rentals, home rentals, or short term condo or luxury rentals during your Florida vacation stay.Tampa, Tampa Bay and Florida Gulf Coast Central Beach Vacation rentalsHead for the Tampa/Gulf Coast Central region to enjoy the subtropical waters of the Gulf of Mexico along the Florida shoreline. Major cities to visit include Tampa, St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Sarasota, Bradenton, Venice, Cape Coral and Cape Myers. Relax and enjoy your Florida vacation in a Florida beach rental along the Gulf Coast. Or, choose Siesta Key island vacation rentals, beach houses, FL condo and vacation villas near to tourists destinations like Busch Gardens in Tampa, and barrier island beaches.Naples, Southwest Florida vacation condo and beach house rentalsSouthwest Florida is the place for some unique outdoor fun, with airboat rides, excursions and hiking through the Everglades National Park, the Naples Zoo, bird watching, charter boat sport fishing, and world class beaches. Florida beach rentals, island rentals, villa rentals, and luxury vacation home rentals put you in the center of action while remaining independent of others. Set up a beach Florida vacation, or condo rental now for your upcoming Florida vacation rental to have home comforts while you are sightseeing.Miami condos, South Beach beach villas, Fort Lauderdale apartment rentalExciting nightlife, fashion, and passion sum up South Florida/Miami/South Beach. Dance the night away at Latin clubs, and work on your tan all day at endless beaches. Collect seashells for souvenirs, go sailing, fishing, or jet skiing, surf and build sand castles. This is the life of the rich and famous, made affordable by using your beach house rental, vacation house, Florida condo, or rental house in town. Settle in and hit the town for world class shopping, entertainment, or just beautiful people watching.

Florida Central Atlantic Coast beach villas rentalThe next area to consider is Florida’s Atlantic Coast Central. There are beach vacation rentals, Florida condos, and vacation rentals by owner to be found that will exceed your best expectations. Visit famous sunny vacation cities of Cocoa Beach, Titusville, Jensen Beach, Daytona Beach, Port St. Lucie, and other fun locations. Kissimmee, Melbourne, Vero Beach and all the way south to West Palm Beach are towns where you will want to spend much more than a day. The region is crisscrossed with hiking trails inland for the outdoors enthusiast, and white sand beaches for sunning along the coastal waters of the Atlantic.Florida Keys, Key West Beach condo and summertime holiday villa rentalsBe sure that your Florida vacation includes a stay in the amazing Florida Keys. Take the unique Overseas Highway across the water to paradise. Swim in the Atlantic, or the Gulf of Mexico, along the way to Key Largo, Key West, and see in person the legendary country that Hemmingway found to be inspiring. Enjoy the Gulf Coast Florida offers, and wander pleasant Key beaches. Go fishing on a charter boat to catch the big ones you can tell stories about, the marlin, and sailfish.Settle into your vacation paradise on a Florida beach, in your rental house. Enjoy a Florida rental for a sun filled, fun filled vacation. Stay in a rental house, beach house rentals, or villas Florida, and make it your home away from home. Who knows, you may decide that you want to retire here someday!