Managing Your Vacation Rental

Are vacationers your tenants or your guests?

Written by Joan Talmadge
5/5 - (8 votes)

Updated December 2023

Homeowners that are new to the world of vacation rentals often ask me for my advice about dealing with tenants.  “My best advice,” I always tell them, “is to think of them as guests, not as tenants, and yourself as a host, not a landlord.”

Now this doesn’t mean that you ignore the business details or forego a lease or security deposit.  But once the business matters are squared away, begin to think about how you can make them comfortable in your home.  The bottom line is that the more they feel like guests, the greater the likelihood that they will treat your home the way your friends would.  Also, given the importance of guest reviews, a little extra TLC on your part will more likely result in your receiving many glowing reviews for future vacationers to see!

There are a number of ways you can make your renters feel like guests:

  1. Email or call them a week or so before they are due to arrive to be sure they have the address, directions, and know how to get in.  Even if you have already sent them all of this information months ago, they may misplace it or even forget that they ever received it. (You’d be surprised how many calls we get in the summer from panicked vacationers who are checking into their rental in a few days and can’t reach the owner and have no idea how to get into the home.)
  2. Leave a welcome gift.  Many homeowners leave a bottle of wine or a basket of local products, such as jams, Cape Cod potato chips, or some coffee for the next morning.
  3. Leave a welcome packet.  Your information book should provide details about your home, including emergency information, location of fire extinguishers, the trash pick-up schedule, and any special instructions about the home and its environment.  Also include information about the beach and beach passes if required, as well as the nearest supermarkets.
  4. Leave a Guidebook.  The more a vacationer knows about the many things to see and do in your area, the more likely they are to have a good time and want to return! Provide them with ideas for dining, shopping, local activities, articles on biking, kayaking, golfing, and local events.
  5. Since many vacationers bring their laptops, encourage them to go to our Vacation Planner for even more ideas and information about your area.
  6. Call or text them within 24 hours of their arrival.  Check in with your tenants once they have arrived to see how they’re doing and if they have any questions.  (Be sure to get a cell number ahead of time – renters rarely answer the house phone at the rental.)  Even though you will have left your contact information, many vacationers hesitate to contact the homeowner with what they might consider to be trivial questions.  Keep in mind: a simple phone call or text can help you avoid a misunderstanding, which can turn into a negative guest review.

Tenants will appreciate all of these personal touches and are likely to take better care of your home. And, best yet, they are more likely to return next year!

Do you have any other suggestions to help homeowners make their guests feel more welcome?

Image courtesy of

About the author

Joan Talmadge

Joan Talmadge - My husband Jeff and I created in 1997, shortly after buying our Cape home. My background includes teaching fifth grade for 8 years and writing and editing educational publications for 15. I get great joy from helping fellow homeowners successfully rent their homes. Jeff and I are proud to have two of our three grown children working for, truly a family-run business. For me, the Cape and Islands are magical all times of the year -- whether it's walking on Nauset Beach, playing golf, or enjoying family and friends. Email Joan