I’ve read a lot of blog posts about how to wow your short-term rental guests. I’ve even written some myself. But let’s get real: how many of us hosts bother to learn much about what our short-term guests really want? We make lots of assumptions, but do we know?
I needed to find out. I read reviews that guests had left about their stays, talked to my traveling friends, and thought about what I loved, hated, appreciated, and would have changed about places I stayed in as a guest myself.
Everyone’s different, of course, but certain things stood out, offering important clues about what my short-term rental guests really want. Here’s what I learned.
Finding #1. “Give me a clean home!”
“The bedroom smelled like wet dog. There were dirty dishes in the cabinet and crud on some of the utensils.”
“Windows were extremely dirty and there was a smell, cleaning fluid or air freshener….”
“The lobby was dirty and dusty, with throwaway newspapers and restaurant flyers on the floor….”
“The cottage was sparkling clean!”
“You could eat off the floor!”
It was clear that every guest wants the short-term rental to be clean. It doesn’t matter how beautiful the home is (or not), what a great location it is in (or not), whether it has a great view or expensive furnishings (or not), guests always remark on how clean it is (or isn’t).
Finding #2. “Don’t mislead me about what to expect”
“[the] place was different than I expected from the pictures. Advertised as two “beds” but one of the beds is a pullout couch, and the dishwasher was broken.”
“Three floors up with no elevator, which the host never mentioned.”
“Exactly as advertised! Place looked exactly like the photos!”
Guests expect their short-term rental to be pretty much as advertised. If you say there’s a view, they want a view, not a sliver of ocean visible only by sticking their heads out the window at the right angle. If the bed in the second bedroom is a futon on the floor, they want to know that before they arrive. If your rental is a fourth-floor walk-up, say so before they arrive with overfilled suitcases. If the second bathroom hasn’t been updated since Kennedy was President, send them a photo.
Finding #3. “Give me a hassle-free stay”
“The only difficult part was check in. We spent more than an hour waiting in front of the building for Lionel to get there with the keys.”
“…the host’s replies to my request for help were arrogant and aggressive.”
“The host returned our messages promptly.”
“Lawson was very helpful, with good instructions/maps on how to get to the condo.”
“There were detailed instructions to help navigate check in/parking/check out.”
“Marianne takes special pride in catering to the needs of her guests and a pleasure to deal with.”
If guests want hassles, they might as well stay home. What they really want is a clean, comfortable, hassle-free place to stay while they enjoy a hard-earned vacation or focus on their important business. They want to be able to find and get into the home easily, access the Internet on the first try, have clear instructions for unfamiliar appliances and electronics, and easily find things they need. And they want their hosts to respond quickly to questions and promptly take care of problems.
Finding #4. “Please let everything be in good condition!”
“[the] bed needs to be replaced, [its] super saggy in the middle. The bedding, sheets, blankets, bedspread, towels and throw pillows were all old and dingy. The bed pillows were cheap ones, they were old, dingy and flat.”
“The kitchen lacks many essentials for daily cooking (I left a list), and the big screen TV is essentially useless unless you rent or bring your own DVDs.”
“The coffee pot wasn’t working. AC could not keep up with the weather and it was hot. The house needs some attention.”
“The bathroom is very dated and in need of a face-lift. [There was a] disgusting smell of mold in the room due to poor plumbing.”
“Both queen beds were very comfortable and bed-bug free.”
“This beautifully decorated but fully appointed cozy condo was perfect for us.”
Guests find it super-depressing to arrive at a short-term rental home to find that the furnishings are a mess, the Internet is down, the washing machine is broken, and the heat refuses to come on. Your guests have paid good money to stay in your home. The least you can do is make sure that everything is in decent condition and functioning as promised.
Finding #5. “Make me feel welcome!
“We got there late at night, and there was only one nearly used-up roll of toilet paper. Not even any Kleenex or paper towels. Good thing I carry packs of tissue in my luggage!”
“Bring your own shampoo and soap. And hair dryer. And coffeemaker.”
“We would have loved some info to help us find grocery stores, pharmacies, babysitters, doctors, resources like that.”
“The place was dark and freezing cold when we got there, like no one had been there in weeks. It felt short-of creepy, like we were breaking in. We wondered whether we’d gotten the dates wrong.”
“We loved all the personal touches. They had extra toothbrushes, shampoo, toothpaste, etc. We really could tell that they cared about making their guests feel at home. Thoughtful touches like food and drinks in the home which is great when you’ve been traveling.”
“It felt very homey and had everything we needed. It was as though we were staying with friends or family, who just happened to not be home at the time.”
There are lots of little things you can do that say to your guests, “We’re glad you’re here!”
Welcome them into a warm, well-lit home and greet them with a friendly note and a gift – people always appreciate things like fruit, cheese, sodas, tea and coffee, wine or beer, cereal and milk, bread, butter, and jam. Provide basic supplies so they don’t have to run out to the store before they’ve unpacked. Offer tips and suggestions for finding their way around the area. Those touches cost you nothing, and they pay off in terms of happy, well satisfied guests.
How about you? What do you really want when you’re a guest in a short-term rental home? Please tell us in the comments or on our Facebook page.