A year ago I wrote a blog about the business of short term rentals in Kingston. Since then, I have received an unusually high number of enquiries from home owners and real estate investors alike, who want to get into the “short term rental” business. A few of my friends who are already in the business shared with me their excitement about how well their enterprises were doing. Are you considering renting a spare bedroom, furnished apartment or an entire house on a short term basis? Below are three important tips that newcomers to the business, or experienced hosts, need to consider.
Booking and Reservation
If you already have an effective marketing plan in place and are receiving the rates and occupancy levels you desire, continue doing what is working for you. If you are just starting out, you may want to become affiliated to reservation companies such as Airbnb and Home Away for them to find customers for you.
What market are you aiming at? Short stay (two to five nights) business clients are mostly interested in properties located in the main commercial area of uptown Kingston. Longer term visitors may be more attracted to the outlying residential areas where private transportation will be essential. The suburbs and hills of the Corporate Area will see yet a relatively smaller clientèle.
A reservation company will guide you to prices that are competitive for the location and the type of accommodation you offer. In addition, it will facilitate communication and payment transactions between guests and hosts.
Fixtures and Furnishings
Furnish and decorate your space to look invitingly special. Remember that you are hosting paying guests. Set a theme for your space and make the furnishings, drapes, bathroom fixtures and linen fit that theme. I have known owners who grab and use discarded furnishing from their house to decorate their rental unit. Such mishmash destroys the appeal of your space. Your home is an investment so spend money to make your guest unit appealing.
Install air conditioning units. Yes! Not all guests need it, but the feature adds a greater rental value to your space. Hot water is a must-have feature. Fix leaky pipes, replace light bulbs and shades, and install modern bathroom faucets, shower heads and sturdy door handles. These are some details that you must attend to.
If you do not have the time to do it yourself, consider hiring a manager to coordinate your bookings, to ensure that your property is in top shape and ready for your visitors. Short term rentals require far greater attention to detail than would be the case if you had a long term tenant. Some owners hire an experienced housekeeper with a background in the hospitality industry as the manager. Her job is to ensure that the booking calendar is up to date, the space is ready to receive guests and everything is in working order.
If you are not affiliated with a reservation company, you should set up a PayPal account and accept credit cards. As much as possible, discourage guests from paying by cash.
Send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and share your experience of your short term rental business.