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Jul 15 2014

Household Supplies: What to Provide for your Vacation Rental Guests

full-pantryHomeowners often ask us for guidance about what household supplies they are expected to leave for their guests, such as cleaning products, paper products, seasonings, condiments, etc.

There is no hard-and-fast rule about what should be provided, and the choice is completely up to the discretion of the owner. But, as in ALL aspects of managing a vacation rental, the happiness of the vacationer’s experience is vital to the homeowner’s success. And it is often those “little extras” that can make a world of difference in guaranteeing your guests’ happiness – which, in turn, increases the likelihood of their returning next season as well as posting a glowing guest review to your listing for others to see. So, when in doubt, provide all you can!

The supplies you provide significantly depend on the size and quality of your home: the expectations of a simple, rustic cottage, for example, would be less than of a larger, more upscale home.

Basic recommended provisions:

Dishwasher and laundry detergent
Fresh dish sponges, “scrubbies,” and brushes
Basic seasonings such as salt and pepper, but preferably other seasonings as well
Trash bags
Pot holders, dish towels, bath mat(s)
Paper products, including toilet paper and paper towels. Preferably napkins, foil and plastic wrap, and sandwich bags, too.
Hand soap (preferably liquid and bars, but at least one or the other)
Basic cleaning products such as bleach, “409,” “Windex,” “Spic ‘n Span,” etc.
Flashlight(s)
Candles and matches (in case of power loss. For safety, hurricane lamps preferable to loose candles.)
Light bulbs
A full propane tank for the gas grill and a spare, or plenty of charcoal and lighter fuel
Grill utensils
Vacuum cleaner bags
Fans
First aid kit
Board games/puzzles/playing cards
Iron/ironing board

Additional supplies
Lobster pot and utensils
Picnic containers
Batteries
Bug candles/Tiki torches
Skewers
Corn cob holders
Coffee, sweeteners, flour, sugar, cooking oil
Outdoor games: whiffle ball/bat, croquet set, horseshoes, etc.
Movies/DVD’s/CD’s
More items vacationers can use in your rental

The tricky thing is to keep all the supplies available throughout the season, not just to the first few weekly rentals. You may need to keep a locked supply closet filled with replacements, or have your cleaning staff monitor the supplies and replenish them if possible. Often, homeowners request that their tenants replace supplies that they finish.

My advice (contrary to my usual nature): don’t be cheap! The few extra dollars spent on providing these supplies assures the appreciation and happiness of your guests, which is (or should be!) the primary goal of all of us homeowners.

What other supplies do you leave for your guests? Have I forgotten any that you’d recommend?

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Household Supplies: What to Provide for your Vacation Rental Guests
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About the author

Elizabeth Weedon

Elizabeth Weedon - Although I’ve worked for WeNeedaVacation.com since 2008, I’ve been a loyal homeowner on the site since early 1998, just a few months after the website was launched by the Talmadges. I grew up summering on the Vineyard and have managed my family's rental home there since the mid-1980’s. I’m passionately devoted to the Vineyard – and to WeNeedaVacation.com, which I credit with enabling me to hold onto the special property that has been in our family since the 1920’s. An enthusiastic member of the WNAV.com Homeowner Support Team, I am particularly involved with our new listers, providing assistance with the sign-up process and advice about how to create the most effective listing to ensure their booking success with us. I have recently taken over our press and public relations needs. And, with owner Joan Talmadge, I am also responsible for editing and writing much of the content on our website, our monthly newsletters, and the blog posts. My husband and I live in Wellesley where we have raised our 2 grown kids and our Black Lab, Maisie. Email Elizabeth

12 comments

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  1. Jerry

    I would like to leave dish towels for my guests, however I am leery about the towels not being washed by the out going guest. If the new guest finds a dirty towel (s) in the kitchen that would reflect badly on my reputation.
    Also, my cleaning crew will not want to hang around to do a wash
    Any suggestions?

    Jer

    1. Elizabeth Weedon

      Hi, Jerry, I take it you do not include linens with your rental? If you did, I’d assume that the dish towels would just get washed with the bed linens. But whether you include linens or not, my suggestion is that you simply purchase enough dish towels that you can have your cleaning crew put out a fresh set each turnover. They certainly don’t cost much. I have a stack in my linen closet that the cleaning crew or even my guests can help themselves to. Hope this helps.

  2. Blum soft Close Drawer

    Very nice thing to provide supplies for your guests.

  3. Blum soft Close Drawer

    I think food is not good to provide.

  4. Penny Bach

    Thanks for the list there are some great ideas. I do have most of the basics on the list and find my guests usually replace paper supplies as they use them. I didn’t see a cook book listed. I find this is used quite often if only as a reminder of temp for oven, and some good sea food recipes are appreciated.
    Sheets and towels have always been an extra charge but I see more and more of you offering them as standard how do you take care of cleaning and supplying on a weekly base do they make beds or do you? Beach Towels too very interesting.

    1. Elizabeth Weedon

      Thanks for your comments, Penny, and I love your idea of leaving a cookbook – or a few! Especially leaving some recipes with local “flavor” like seafood and even clam/lobster bake ideas, or recipes with cranberries.
      The issue of whether or not to provide linens and towels, and whether to charge extra for them, is such a toughie! I provide bed linens but not towels (too much volume of laundry each week), and I don’t charge extra – but then again, I have second thoughts about it every year. Is it worth all the time and effort? Should I include towels, too? Should I charge extra? There simply isn’t a right or wrong answer, but I suggest you take a look at the following blog posts we’ve written about it:
      Should I provide linens in my vacation rental – http://bit.ly/1tkqZai
      Trends in vacation rental amenities – http://bit.ly/1z5aBwy
      More Vacation Rental Silent Killers – http://bit.ly/1rtiIdv
      Thanks again, Penny, and don’t hesitate to search our Blog for any other topics you may be interested in. And if you don’t see the answers, let me know!

  5. Kathy Wolf

    I don’t know how I missed this in July. We were just back from 2 weeks on MV so maybe…… I love reading what others provide as we have just finished our 4th summer as landlords. I do supply most of what has been discussed. I love the NetFlix idea. I will be doing that for next summer. Because we bought or house furnished and equipped, I still need to go through and weed out the videos and books. This will make it way easier. I hadn’t even thought of it. I don’t use it at home, but my kids do and my 8 year old grand daughter knows how to use it on my Apple TV. I have a list of “where is it” but I wanted to nice and haven’t gotten to it. Another winter project.
    I have a sewing kit with thread, needles, pins, safety pins in it for those oops moments. For kids, I have a wooden train set, 2 pop up houses, and some board games. A plastic kiddie pool and beach toys too.

  6. Shannon Russo

    Great additions, everyone! Thanks for commenting.

    And thank you, Rebecca! As you know, this blog post was inspired by the question you sent to our Homeowner Support Team.

    Best,
    Shannon

  7. Bert Simonis

    We like your list – but would like to provide an update. We provide a Wii entertainment system for the younger crowd and no longer have a DVD library – as it was too expensive and space consuming to maintain. Our rentals now have a Netflix subscription that is included as part of the rental price. It allows people to watch as many movies as they may want and we no longer have to stock a library or replace “missing” DVD’s.

    Also, we no longer provide hurricane lanterns or candles as we think they are too dangerous. Instead we bought a large supply of glow sticks at the local Dollar store and have one in each nightstand (along with a flashlight) and a box in the closet.

    Last, please do all of your guests a favor and replace your smoke detectors with new technology combination Carbon Monoxide/Smoke Detectors. The newer ones have 10 year batteries, eliminating that middle of the night “chirping”.

    Bert Simonis
    http://www.SnagRent.com

  8. Rebecca Shanor

    Thank you so much for your useful suggestions, Elizabeth! Our house is prepared with most of the items on the checklist, except for coffee, a picnic basket and sand buckets.

    In addition to your list and Vicki’s and Kathy’s many good ideas (beach items, waffle iron, cooler, etc.), here are my “thoughtful items” (!) that I leave for renters.

    – dog biscuits for renters who come with Fido
    – a special water bowl for Fido
    – blueberry waffle mix to go with the house waffle iron
    – a “Tick Kit,” containing instructions for tick removal, rubbing alcohol, cotton balls, tweezers, magnifying glass (and phone number for the ER!)
    – books about Vineyard history and its natural life (birds, flowers, fish, night sky)
    – a variety of things for young kids to have fun with: kites, bubble blower, chalk, frisbee, jump rope, water “noodles,” as well as entertaining books, DVDs and board games.
    – for older children/adults: outside game of darts (plastic tipped), playing cards, jigsaw puzzles, DVDs, CDs, golden-oldie vinyl records
    – a guide to local radio stations

    Strictly speaking, the following item is not a “supply for renters,” but I list it because (at least at our house) it’s essential for people’s safety.

    – Textured, glow-in-the-dark stripping for some of the outdoor stairs. Even with the deck lights on, it gets very dark here once the sun’s down.

    Vicki: Your “Find It” list for renters is genius. May I borrow it?
    Kathy: Do you know where I can buy anchors for beach umbrellas? It’s a really good idea.

  9. Kathy Salle

    I agree with Vicki about the beach chairs, umbrellas, and coolers. Also important are those anchors for the beach umbrellas so that they do not fly away and perhaps hurt someone. We also provide, in addition to bathroom towels, beach towels. This is for us as well as for our guests (so that they do not take good bathroom towels to the beach). We also provide 2 quilts for putting down on the sand. As for household supplies, I would add to the list fire extinguishers–one on each floor and convenient to the dryer, the furnace, the grill, etc. For kitchen appliances, I would add a popcorn popper and even a waffle iron. Both get plenty of use over the summer. This was a great article, Elizabeth. So helpful!

  10. Vicki Dempsey

    I am pleased to see I had everything on your checklist except a first-aid kit. I will be adding that too!
    In order to make it easier for the guests to locate these items throughout the house, I hang a pretty framed ‘find it’ list in the kitchen. I also keep a few more unusual appliances to share like an ice cream maker (family fun) and crock pot (can be very useful even in summertime to come home from the beach to a cooked meal). We like to use them so maybe the renters do too. I even share my delicious pulled pork recipe!
    Considering many folks are driving with cars packed with kids and suitcases, we also provide inexpensive beach chairs, umbrella, cooler and boogie boards. These things need to be replaced every few years, but as you state so well, really make the difference in the ‘happiness’ level of our guests.

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