Updated August 2023
That’s the goal, isn’t it? To find tenants who enjoy our vacation rental home, are respectful of it, leave it in good condition, and will want to return. But how is this best accomplished?
Step one is simple:
1. Speak to your prospective tenants on the phone
While email correspondence is fine, there is nothing like a phone conversation to establish a rapport and build trust. By “trust,” I mean that you want to trust that your guests will care for your home as if it were theirs, and your guests want to trust that you are presenting an honest and accurate representation of the home they are choosing to for their vacation. In short, a phone call is the best way to reassure the both of you that your home is indeed a good fit for them.
2. Ask specific and open-ended questions
Keep the conversation natural and ask leading, yet friendly, questions such as, “Have you been to [your town] before? If so, are you familiar with the location of our home?” It’s important for you to know the makeup of their party (number of adults and number of ages of children). Also, what are they looking for in a rental? Do they want an informal beach house with casual furniture? Do they want a luxurious home with all the modern amenities? Do they want a quiet area or one with lots of activities? Does your home and setting seem to have what they are looking for? Assure them that it’s important to you that your home is a good fit for their needs. If they’re not familiar with your area, they may make some assumptions that don’t match reality. So, it’s important to tell them as much as you can about the immediate setting, the town, and its surroundings.
3. Don’t hide flaws or drawbacks
You want to start off on the right foot and set reasonable expectations. Be open and honest with potential renters about your home and its setting. Is it on a busy road? Some renters won’t mind, but others definitely will. Do you have a spiral staircase that might not be conducive for small children? Is the home handicap accessible? Let them know. Is that “fourth bedroom” an open loft? Don’t be afraid to be honest. Disclosing any potential issues gives vacationers a greater sense of trust that they won’t encounter any surprises when they arrive. Your guests will be grateful for it. There’s nothing worse than having a guest show up only to be disappointed by the flaws that were never disclosed. Avoid accusations of misrepresentation by disclosing any potential pain points.
4. Don’t ignore the red flags
You have received an inquiry. You have emailed and texted (and hopefully, have spoken over the phone). All signs point to a mutual understanding… until you send the lease agreement. Is the vacationer late in sending their deposit? Do they question and dissect the lease agreement? Are they asking for concessions that you do not provide – a beach pass, for example? Are they renegotiating terms with you? If a vacationer is showing signs of being high-maintenance or demanding in the booking process, expect that they will be picky and overwhelming after they arrive at your home.
5. Trust your instincts
Occasionally, we get a phone call from an owner who has had an unfortunate experience with a guest and says, “I had a bad feeling about them from the very beginning.” Trust your instincts. If you get the sense that your home is not the right fit for a particular vacationer, do not be afraid to say no. It is not worth the risk. Be prepared to offer firm but diplomatic reasons for not renting to them. If possible, provide them with reasons why they might not want to rent your home, and move on to the next inquiry.