It’s easy to feel that every penny you earn on your vacation rental home goes right back into the property.
Your urge to put money right back into the property is understandable. You want your property to earn top ratings and keep customers coming back. What some vacation rental homeowners don’t realize is that you can offer a top property, complete with little niceties that woo guests and not drain your bank account. The secret? Find and eliminate or reduce hidden costs.
“There are so many money-saving ideas which produce good results if applied for different circumstances,” said Andrei Vasilescu, CEO of the money-saving website Don’t Pay Full. “[There are] effective money saving tips that can help anyone save money.”
Consider these 7 tips from Vasilescu and other home gurus to keep your guests happy and your bank account healthy:
Unplug. Decorative and outdoor lights look great but the electricity to power them can drain your budget. Reduce the number of decorative lights you use, especially those that aren’t LED certified. When the home is unoccupied, disconnect electric-powered gadgets, small appliances, and other energy users, said Vasilescu.
Think refresh, not replace. Everyone wants a new kitchen but sometimes it’s not practical to spend that much money. Consider refreshes and facelifts for such key rooms.
“A fresh coat of paint and new hardware can do wonders. Try to paint everything the same color (such as a bright white). It will look fresh and new, and you’ll have the paint for touch ups if something is marred,” said author and home expert Cynthia O’Connor O’Hara, The Harried Housewife. “Anything you can do yourself is a terrific money and timesaver.”
Buy ahead. Sure, you can buy light bulbs, cleaning supplies, trash can liners, and more as you need them. It’s more budget friendly to stock up at a warehouse store or watch for bargains at the stores that sell items for $1 each, O’Connor O’Hara said. Also, buy extra dish towels, corkscrews, can openers, and other essentials when you see deals at warehouse stores. You’ll surely need them. She also suggests handy homeowners stopping at fabric supply stores and stock up on fabrics so they can create table runners for different seasons or holidays. “Those are easy to do and so inexpensive,” she said. “You can either wash them (between uses) or throw them away.”
Add pops of color. Worried that neutral-toned rooms will look too sterile? Choose throw pillows, dried flowers, and other accents to add pops of color without investing much.
“You can go to the (stores that sell items for $1 each) and buy decorative soaps, small toiletries, throw pillows, and other pretty items,” O’Connor O’Hara said. “You can buy some twine or ribbon and wrap guest soaps into little bundles that are pops of color in the bathroom….Those are the little things that make me want to come back to a place.”
Invest in tech. No, we’re not saying you should go wild but invest in money-saving technology. For less than $100, you can purchase a programmable thermostat to regulate the home’s heating and cooling. That’s a major money-saver, especially when the home is unoccupied.
Ditch the carpeting. Hardwood and newly tiled floors offer fresh, clean looks. Plus, they take much less work to maintain. Ditching carpet saves you time and money vacuuming, shampooing, and worrying about deep cleaning or replacing stained areas, said O’Connor O’Hara.
Consider landscape options. Sure, vibrant grass and arrays of flowers and bushes look lovely, but their maintenance requires huge investments of time and money.
“Something I’ve seen homeowners that use our system do to save money on their landscape maintenance and beautify things is to install river rock in their gardens and landscaping beds,” said Zach Hendrix, cofounder of GreenPal. “This serves as a one time upfront investment and adds beauty to the lawn and landscape.” Mulch and other hardscapes are popular for yards, too, but work with a lawn expert to ensure you achieve the look you want, he said.
Add natural light. In their urge to boost curb appeal many homeowners invest in pricey front and garage door replacements. Consider adding glass inserts to both, recommended Anne Rodriguez, Sr. Digital Marketing & E-commerce Manager, Design Services Expert at Zabitat.
“Those offer great value and great curb appeal,” she said. “They’re also a fraction of the cost of replacing an entryway (or garage) door. And they are DIY friendly so you can do the project in an hour or less!” Another bonus: The natural light makes it easier for guests to see when they are unfamiliar with the locations of light switches, so they aren’t fumbling in the dark.
It’s also a great idea to screen doors and windows, so that guests can enjoy fresh air without relying on air conditioning or battling bugs, she added. Retractable door screens are more durable than other screens for several reasons including push-button operation. That means kids – or adults – won’t poke holes in them if their hands are full.
Think small. There are many small investments you can make that will tell guests you really care about them. In fact, some of these are actually more attractive to guests than more pricey splurges. One example might be a wine refrigerator. Those with money to burn and very high-end properties may include them, but they cost a lot and aren’t always used. Conversely, wine glasses, bottle openers, and even portable ice chests are nice extras you can buy at the stores that sell items for a dollar, said O’Connor O’Hara.
“Most people do bring wine with them and it’s nice not to drink it out of a paper cup or a bathroom glass,” she said. “Little hooks in the bathroom where you can hang your robe, an umbrella by the front door, those are the little things that go a long way. People see them and appreciate it makes their vacation much easier.”
Yes, you can make your property a top destination without breaking your budget. One of the best ways might just be to make sure you stay at your own property on a regular basis so you see what little extras you can provide that makes your house a home.