Managing Your Vacation Rental

Perfecting Your Guests’ Experience

Written by Elizabeth Weedon
5/5 - (2 votes)

As short-term rental hosts, your goal is to provide your guests with the best possible experience in your home. Period. Needless to say, that entails a well-maintained, attractive, and safe home and a positive experience. But beyond those basics, what can you provide your guests to set their vacation apart and reinforce their desire to return again the next year?

Vacationers want 2 things: To have fun and to relax

People work hard throughout the year dealing with life’s responsibilities and routine. Their reward is a few days in the sun, relaxing together with their families, treating themselves to special treats like a lobster dinner or dining out, or enjoying fun experiences like biking, kayaking, golfing, shopping, etc. But due to a situation such as the pandemic or bad weather, some of these activities may not be available.

What can you do?

Provide your guests with some fun activities in your home! If kids are entertained and happy, their parents are happy.  And young or old, most vacationers cherish the opportunity to curl up with a book or iPad for some alone-time and relaxation. Naturally, there are budgets to consider, and most of us can’t afford to add a swimming pool or tennis court to our properties! But there are a number of affordable amenities and “toys” that can provide your guests with great enjoyment.

Here are some suggestions for fun:

Fire pit – Although outdoor firepits do present some liability, vacationers love them, and they are fairly affordable.  In guest reviews, we frequently see mention of families sitting around the firepit in the evening with the kids making s’mores under the stars.

Water slide – Depending on your yard and hose situation, providing young families with a water slide can be a really fun way to beat the heat without going to the beach. They range from inexpensive, poor quality slides to really nice, durable ones.

Badminton/volley ball set – Inexpensive, easy to buy and store, and particularly fun for larger groups, but you have to have a large enough yard and assume some lawn damage.

Cornhole – A no-brainer in my opinion. So inexpensive and easy to buy and store. Great for all ages.

Croquet – An old-fashioned fave. Not expensive, easy to store (usually comes with some kind of case or box), fun for lots of ages.

Bocce – Definitely a bigger, more expensive amenity but really fun for adults.

Pool – Obviously an inground pool is a very big-ticket item, but pools are in such demand these days of sheltering in place! And consider a poor man’s version including a kiddie-pool or above-ground pool.

Don’t forget indoor options

Due to the pandemic, the heat, or occasional rainy weather, it’s a good idea to provide some indoor activities, too. Here are some suggestions:

Games (board games, cards, and other games like Uno, Pigs, etc.)






Do keep in mind that providing some amenities (such as bikes, kayaks/canoes, fire pits, etc.) can increase your liability risk. So it’s always a good idea to check with your insurance agent and/or attorney to be sure you are adequately protected. (Contact us if you would like a copy of our sample Lease Addendum at

Help them to relax

As important as enjoying activities, relaxing is a number one goal of most vacationers. Help them recharge their batteries while sheltering in place at your home.

Hammock – Talk about relaxing, hammocks are synonymous with summertime relaxing! They can easily be mounted onto a couple of trees, or you can buy the base and put it pretty much anywhere.

Swing – Our home has a simple rope swing that hangs from an oak tree off our porch. And our guests LOVE it, often telling me their kids swing in it for hours. Also, a PlayScape or basic swing set can provide valuable entertainment for little ones.

Reading nook – Set up cozy, attractive, little reading nooks, either by arranging comfortable furniture in an appropriate spot in your home or out on a deck.

Puzzles and board games – If you have an area where you can set up a card table, leave out a puzzle for the whole family to work on while they’re at your home.  There are lots for fun, beachy puzzles, or even one of the Cape and Islands map.

Do you have any other entertainment or comfort ideas to share with your fellow homeowners?

About the author

Elizabeth Weedon

Elizabeth Weedon - Although I’ve worked for 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 managed my family's rental home there since the mid-1980’s. I’m passionately devoted to the Vineyard – and to WeNeedaVacation, which I credit with enabling me to hold onto the special property that has been in our family for nearly a century. An enthusiastic member of the WNAV Homeowner Support Team, I endeavor to keep my finger on the pulse of the Cape and Islands vacation rental industry so that I can provide homeowners advice about how to ensure their booking success with us. With owner Joan Talmadge, I am also responsible for editing and writing much of the text on our website, our monthly newsletters, and Homeowner Blog posts.