DOs and DON’Ts to Keep Your North Georgia Vacation Rental Property On Top
With so many vacation rental options in the mountains of North Georgia, it may be difficult as a homeowner to know how to ensure your property stays competitive. Today’s travelers are looking for the best, with convenience, price, amenities, and quality in mind. If you own a vacation rental property in the Blue Ridge Mountains, you are also competing with hotels and motels, condos, campgrounds, and of course, other short-term cabin rentals. The short-term vacation rental market is incredibly competitive, which means you have to stay on top of what will make your vacation rental stand out.
Ask yourself: what threats in this market will impact YOUR vacation property’s revenue potential? You may face:
- New construction
- Changes in traveler demographics
- Marquis brand hotels and resorts (Marriott, Hilton, etc.)
- An outdated property
In order to figure out how to combat these threats, let’s look at them closer.
In any top traveler destination, there will always be a chance for new property construction. This is especially true in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains! Many people want a chance to own a vacation home in this highly desirable area, and with new construction comes new competition. New properties also mean that your property will often be competing against brand-new everything – from high-end kitchens and designer furniture to modern flooring and upgraded amenities. And as we know – NEW sells.
New properties especially pop online, which is a guest’s first impression as they begin their vacation search. Although new properties have higher rents, we have found that guests are willing to pay for newer, upgraded spaces with more amenities.
Can your property compete with these new cabins? If not, ask yourself why.
Changes in Traveler Demographics
The renters of today are very different from those going on vacation 20, 15, or even 10 years ago. Today’s travelers have more options at their fingertips, among vacation rentals and destinations. They are more discerning with their money, and many are members of travel and hospitality groups such as Marriott Bonvoy and Hilton Honor. They expect more in every aspect, from décor and amenities to bedding and mattresses.
Does your property appeal to today’s travelers of Millennials and Generation X?
Marquis-Brand Hotels and Resorts
A couple of decades ago, big-brand hotels were not a top option. Travelers turned to private inns and locally owned hotels when they left home. Over the years, more chains have opened, although Blue Ridge isn’t quite as busy as many tourist towns. Still, hotel chains are part of the competition equation in North Georgia – and surrounding Georgia towns. Many travelers appreciate hotels because of their convenience, hotel points they may earn, and amenities offered. Others appreciate standard rooms that take the surprise out of a stay.
How can you place your property above the hotels on a traveler’s go-to list? How can you ensure a great guest experience?
An Outdated Property
While competition and traveler changes are certainly issues to consider, your own property may be its biggest threat. If your property is outdated, it is not meeting its full potential for rental revenue! Older cabins that haven’t been updated come with fixtures and features that are no longer considered acceptable for today’s more discerning travelers.
When was your vacation rental property last updated and refreshed? If it features carpet, basic white appliances, wallpaper, linoleum, and other outdated items, that is likely hindering its success. When travelers search online, the photos are their first impression. New, upgraded properties stand out while older properties without updates fall flat.
If you haven’t upgraded your vacation rental property in some time – or worse, haven’t ever – now is the time to consider a refresh. Upgrades will help keep your property competitive and marketable, offering what today’s travelers want and giving YOU more profits.
Some items to consider upgrading:
- Carpet – Real hardwood is great, but it isn’t your only option. Today there are some wonderful high-end vinyl choices that look like real wood, are durable and waterproof, and are less expensive than the real thing.
- Old & Outdated Appliances – Basic white appliances only last about 10 – 12 years at best, and they are not worth the expense when they break. Replacing these is easier, but we suggest replacing all to match – preferably sleek black or a stainless steel. Outfit your kitchen with a coffeemaker, toaster, blender, and full-size appliances that will work well – and stand out online for potential guests.
- Kitchen & Bathroom Countertops – Formica and cheap countertops are a top indicator of an outdated property, and they really stick out to guests. Natural stone counters are a much better option. Granite is affordable, durable, and much more appropriate for a modern cabin.
- TVs – If your cabin still has the old tube-style TVs, please replace them! Flatscreen TVs are very inexpensive and an easy upgrade that guests really appreciate. Our rule is: the bigger, the better! We suggest at least 42” TVs in the living areas, 32” TVs in the bedrooms, and 50” TVs in game rooms and movie rooms. Smart TVs with streaming services are even better!
- Internet – If you are still using a cable for internet, consider upgrading to Wi-Fi in your short-term rental. Guests love staying connected, but they don’t love having to plug in to do it.
- Living and Dining Room Furniture – A cabin’s furniture should welcome guests in and not look like your leftovers. Today’s guests love leather (or faux leather) sofas and chairs in the living room with sturdy, modern dining tables and chairs. Think about the experience you are offering your vacation rental guests and what they’ll be doing there. They want modern, luxurious spaces for time spent with family and friends.
- Sleeper Sofas – If your cabin has a sleeper sofa, when was the last time you replaced the mattress? If the answer is never – or many years ago – consider a nice replacement. Today there are comfortable options available that will encourage repeat guests!
- Wallpaper and Borders – While there are some nice modern wallpapers available, wallpaper (and certainly border) is generally considered an outdated interior design choice. When guests come to a cabin, they want nice tongue and groove wood that gives them that cozy cabin feel! If you have wallpaper, remove it, paint over it, or cover it with nice wood!
- Drywall – While drywall isn’t outdated, it isn’t what visitors to the mountains want. When guests book a Blue Ridge cabin, they want a cabin feel. Give them what they want! If you can, cover drywall with wood paneling or tongue and groove siding. If you can’t make the switch to wood, at least keep it patched and painted regularly. Stick with dark tans, taupes, or light greys for a modern look and stay away from white and cream.
- Light Fixtures and Ceiling Fans – Modern light fixtures and ceiling fans are an easy way to make a big impact when upgrading. If your lights are old fashioned and your ceiling fan blades are warped and worn, replace them! Good lighting can make a huge difference in setting the scene.
- Bedroom Furniture – A cabin bedroom should be warm, welcoming, and feel like a retreat for guests. Be sure furniture matches or pairs well and is not worn. If furniture looks – and feels – like it came from a yard sale, guests will likely give bad reviews. Mattresses are also key, and their lifespan is about 5-6 years.
- Quality Linens – Along with a nice mattress, guests enjoy quality bedding that is fresh, well-kept (no holes or stains), and comfortable. Think about hotel-quality linens to give your guests a great night’s sleep.
- Games and amenities – If your property offers games (Xbox, PlayStation, game tables, etc.), be sure they are in great working order and look nice. Add arcade games if you can, re-cover pool tables, replace bumpers, provide plenty of game accessories, and make sure the space is inviting and fun. Offer good seating and tables for drinks and snacks. If you have a swimming pool, always keep it in great condition!
- Outdoor Furniture, Hot Tub & Grill – Guests love hot tubs, but a top complaint is calcium and hard-water deposits, broken jets, or a cracked tub. If your grill is so old, dirty, or broken that you wouldn’t cook on it, neither will your guests. Grills last about 2 summers on average. Keep all outdoor amenities in great conditions so guests can enjoy them!
- Knick-Knacks/Extra Stuff – The phrase less is more really applies to vacation properties. Overloading your cabin with decorations on the walls, dressers, and floor just makes it look messy. Extra items also mean more dust accumulation between stays.
- Outdoor Living Space – Today’s guests love great outdoor spaces for enjoying a fire, grilling out, and soaking up nature. If your property has some nice flat space or a place where you can create some, adding a nice patio and firepit area will make a big difference for guests. And don’t overlook the difference nice landscaping can make!
So how does YOUR property stack up? Does it meet today’s standards?
If you want to see a serious change in your rental income and keep your property competitive in today’s market, consider getting your property up to the standards of today’s guests.
Here is our offer: Give us a call if you’re open to suggestions and would like us to tour your cabin and offer an honest assessment on how you can stand out from the competition. We would love to help make your North Georgia property as competitive, marketable, and profitable as it can be! We are a passionate, experienced property management company ready to take care of all the details for YOU – from professional photographers to highlight your cabin’s best features and social media to housekeeping and maintenance, and everything in between.