Managing Your Vacation Rental

Tips to Retain Repeat Guests and Attract New Ones

Written by Elizabeth Weedon
5/5 - (4 votes)

Updated September 2023

The 2023 rental season followed pandemic-impacted ones that enjoyed record-breaking demand and low inventory of rental homes. Although inquiries and bookings for 2023 exceeded pre-pandemic numbers, the demand slackened, and the inventory of available homes increased.  We expect this trend to continue into the future.

So, it’s important to keep in mind that what you do to manage your rentals one season will affect next season’s bookings. By providing a great experience for your guests, you will increase your odds of their returning the next season. And their glowing reviews will attract more new guests as well. 

Here are 5 helpful tips:

Solicit guest reviews

Having guest reviews on a listing is vital to the success of marketing your home!  According to TrustYou research, as many as 83% of travelers find guest reviews an important consideration when booking their next vacation.  They often move on to another listing if they don’t see any.  Industry experts will tell you that guest reviews will significantly increase the number of inquiries and bookings you will receive. 

Make it personal

Although vacation rental management is most certainly a business (and should be conducted as such), creating a strong personal connection with your guests is a key ingredient in the recipe for success. Enabling your guests to get to know you creates a much deeper level of trust and accessibility. They are more likely to “roll with it” if something should go amiss while they’re at your home (the dishwasher breaks, insect issues, etc.) But it also increases the odds of their submitting a glowing guest review after their departure, which is crucial to success for subsequent seasons.

Pre-arrival check-in

Don’t just assume everything is all set for your guests and that they’re on their own in getting to your home. Check in with them 5 to 10 days prior to their arrival to remind them of what to bring (linens and towels, for example, if you don’t provide them) and what not to bring (paper/cleaning products if you do provide them.) Make sure they know the check-in time and have the address and/or directions to your home and instructions on how to get in. Ask if they have any last-minute questions or requests.

Post-arrival check-in

Sorry, but it’s not over, even after your guests have arrived. We strongly urge you to check in with them either by text, email or phone call. You will want to make sure they are finding everything to their liking, know where things are, have not found any unwanted surprises, and don’t have any additional questions or concerns. So often when a problem arises, it could so easily have been avoided if the homeowner had checked in with their guests and averted a misunderstanding or minor issue that can fester with the vacationer all week. Take advantage of another opportunity to show them that you care about their comfort and happiness.

After their departure

Your final responsibility with each guest is to return their security deposit as quickly as possible. Follow up with an email notifying them that you have done so, thank them for leaving your home in good condition, and, most importantly, request that they submit a guest review regarding their stay! (Read our 10 Tips to Acquire Positive Reviews.) Capitalize on their feelings of good will and ask if they have any interest in returning the following season.  You might even provide them with an incentive to book early.

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.