How to Start a Short Term Rental Business

Starting a short term rental business is a dream for many people. Creating a unique short term rental property can be a very rewarding experience. Here are my top tips to help you start a short term rental business and create a unique vacation rental.

What is a Short Term Rental Property?

Short term rental properties are essentially private properties that are rented out shortterm to travelers. They are different from hotels in that they can be characterful properties offering unique guest experiences – some hotels can be very generic. 

So how do you start a short term rental property business?

Do Your Market Research

It’s so important to do your research! First and foremost, know your “why”. Why are you wanting to create a short term rental? Is it for the money? Is it to have a vacation home of your own? Is it because you love hospitality and want to create an amazing experience for your guests?

Also consider is there a location that is special to you? What’s tourism like there? Is it only seasonal? You might want to choose a location that has year round tourism, or somewhere that is seasonal so you can enjoy your property out of season. 

Photo by Roberto Nickson on Unsplash

How much are homes there? How much do they rent for? Will you be managing the property? How much will your expenses in the area be, including the cleaning company?

Figure out your expenses and profits alongside how long you plan to own the property. 

Personally, I bought my home for myself and started by renting out a single room on Airbnb while I designed and renovated it. Now I have the entire home listed. I intentionally bought a house that didn’t need major renovations but could be thoughtfully curated and designed with paint and some thrifted, secondhand pieces. I’m an interior designer, so this came easy to me!

Purchase the Home

Once you decide on the area, keep a look out for properties. What is your ideal guest looking for when they visit? Do they want to be central in the city for work and/or play or are they coming to retreat in a desolate place? Maybe it’s a combination! 

People purchase homes in so many different ways. This is something a banker can help with. For me, I was able to get a loan as a first time homeowner. For my second home, I plan to use the equity from that home for the loan. The money I have profited from my first property will go directly towards renovation and design costs. 

Design + Style 

This is one of the most important aspects. Guests are searching for a unique experience and this is where you can stand apart from anyone on the market. Knowing your ideal guest is key. DIY is going to attract a different guest than luxury design. My speciality is in blending the two. The work may be DIY but the look is designer. 

My clients invest in my expertise and ability to save them thousands of dollars by creating thoughtful designs that are minimalistic and make use of thrifted and vintage pieces when applicable.

Photo by Zane Persaud on Unsplash

Here are some ideas to help guide you:

  • Have the exterior style of your home showcased, if applicable, in the interiors. For example, if your property is a mid-century home, consider styling the interior with mid-century pieces. 
  • Think of your favorite place in the world and find inspiration in the authentic designs found there (for example, rugs and poufs from morocco, warm colors found in the Sahara)
  • Use color psychology. White symbolizes cleanliness and that’s why you’ll find it used in hotel bedding and hospitals (for example crisp white walls and white bedding paired with warm colours)

Enhance the Amenities

Amenities are so important. Here are a few of the top amenities I see guests rave about:

  • Breakfast items and staples in the kitchen like seasonings and olive oil
  • Complimentary beverages (I leave 1-2 LaCroixs per guest)
  • Comfortable beds
  • Beautifully, curated design or unique experience (I cannot even count how often people rave about my house being a beautiful retreat filled with the cutest things)
  • Searchable amenities such as being pet-friendly, having a hot tub or pool and dedicated workspace – these can make your short term rental property stand out from the crowd.
  • Eco-friendly cleaning supplies and amenities

Creating a unique guest experience is one way to ensure you get more guests coming to stay at your property, and these little touches can make all the difference! 

Photograph + List the Property

Professional photography is worth every penny when it comes to listing your property as a short term rental. This is something I learned to do on my own and offer to my vacation rental design clients. A professional camera, bright light, beautifully shot angles and editing software are key to showcasing your property at its best.

When listing your property, it’s important to be strategic through your imagery and copy. Are you highlighting why your place is unique and the best? Are you speaking to your ideal guest?

You can list on platforms such as Airbnb and VRBO which take a small fee but in my opinion are worth every penny. Airbnb does the marketing for me and my books are completely full. It’s truly almost hands-off. All of the messaging is within the app and I even have automated messages scheduled to be sure my hospitality is at tip top shape. 

I hope you found this guide to start a short term rental business helpful. I’ve talked a lot about my own short term rental property, which you should check out here. For more helpful tips and to see my design projects, follow me on Instagram

If you’d love to work with someone to not only design your property, but aid in market research and listing it – I’d love it if you reached out for a complimentary call. You can also view my design services here.

And for the cherry on top of it all – here’s my FREE GUIDE in which I share my 25 secrets for creating a successful short term rental as an interior design professional and 18x Airbnb superhost.

Make it a great day

xx, Chelsey

Business, Interior Design

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