What makes your vacation rental property standout among the rest? For Travel Channel host and hospitality mogul Anthony Melchiorri, comfort and safety come number one.
You have worked in the hospitality industry for years now, what are some best practices for protecting one’s vacation rental property from liability and risk?
The good thing is every guest you accept into your rental home needs to use a valid credit card and driver’s license or passport to successfully rent out a vacation property. This gives the landlord stability to make sure their guests behave, and if they don’t, you have recourse to put any damage onto their credit. As a landlord you also have the responsibility of making sure your guests review the liability and risks on the registration forms and initial their understanding beforehand. I know vacation rentals hit a spiked interest during spring break season for a lot of college kids, so if you’re located in this environment a good way to avoid the risk of a rowdy crowd staying at your place is verifying on the listing site a specific age requirement for prospective guests.
How important is it to invest in property insurance when renting your vacation property?
I think it’s critical. It may be more expensive sure, but why would you put yourself at risk from a liability standpoint? You can go to sleep at night knowing that, God forbid, if a guest starts a fire in your rental, you’re still covered. If you don’t buy insurance for your vacation rental property than you’re not a business person, you’re just playing games. You must have insurance, it’s not even a conversation.
What’s one piece of advice you’d give new property owners looking to rent out an entire property or even just a spare room?
The first priority for those just entering the vacation rental space is to go online and look up a course on how to become a property manager, as there are many of them out there to educate yourself with. The second priority from a guest standpoint is to treat the person staying at your vacation rental like they’re your grandmother that you haven’t seen in 20 years. If you’re looking at renting out your place as just a simple money grab, you’re not going to be successful long term. If you look at from the eyes of, “Hey, my grandma is coming over who I haven’t seen in years,” then you’re going to treat your guests the way you would treat your own family.
Long story short: Go online, learn what becoming a property manager is all about, invest in a partnership with these vacation listing sites so that you can start maximizing your property presence and your profitability, and treat every guest that enters your vacation home like family.
How has the term “guest experience evolved” over the past decade?
Guest experience is your home. When you talk about guest experience, you’re talking about how they’re not going to a hotel, they’re going to your home. When you go into an apartment it feels like a home. Everything you think about from the bedding to the shower is your home that you need to make feel like your guests’ home — and I don’t think people understand that concept a lot of times. Property managers are trying too hard to impress people but not trying to make people comfortable. So, I think property owners, especially in the vacation rental sector, need to understand that comfort and amenities are two different things. Amenities are less important than comfort. For example, it’s a necessity for me to have an outlet next to my bed so that I can charge my phone and feel comfortable not having to get up. If I rent out a vacation property and I have a welcome bottle of champagne on the kitchen counter when I walk in, but I don’t have an outlet next to my bed, that’s what I’m going to remember. I’m not going to remember that I was gifted a bottle of champagne. So, I think the difference between comfort and amenities really needs to be understood and appreciated.
How can the everyday homeowner turn their property into a full-service hotel experience for renters?
If you want to make your vacation rental unit feel more like a hotel, that’s where top-notch amenities come into play. You need to keep in mind the amenities that you typically like may not be what your guests want or need. Make sure the essentials are present and quality: clean sheets, bedding and pillows, towels, and shower amenities. Old and clean is fine, new and dirty is no good, and old and dirty is no good. Once you have the proper essentials, or “touch-points,” you can make any room, or any vacation area, feel special. Property managers tend to overthink it a lot of times and worry about so much more than the key “touch-points,” and spend too much money trying to impress people. How you impress people is to understand how to make them feel comfortable and content on vacation.
For this growing trend in hospitality, how can property owners leverage their vacation rental properties and market them as a unique alternative to hotels for prospective guests?
First thing you need to focus on is price, pricing is so important in this field. It’s common for a lot of property owners and managers to base pricing off the amount of space and amenities their vacation rentals have to offer. They think, “I have a house, three bedrooms, a pool, and a laundry room so I can charge $500 dollars a night.” But if the Hilton down the street is charging $250 a night and people don’t need all the space your rental property has, they won’t care.” Price must come before anything else, so despite how much bigger your property is, if you’re trying to beat out the competition of hotels in the area, the price in terms of the size of your property shouldn’t translate.
In terms of marketing your vacation properties on third party listing sites such as Airbnb and Vacasa LLC, these sites spend thousands of dollars on advertising and everybody goes to them to search for vacation rentals, so as a property owner you have to be able to work with them and understand how their promotions work all the way down to how your property is listed. Once you partner with these sites to promote your property and you become a destination where people search for your property and tell their friends about it, having these reviews through these listing platforms are critical for the success of your business. You can’t walk away from these biggest marketing platforms in the world, as they’ll make you so much more revenue in the long-term if you know how to effectively use it.