The most expensive vacation of my life. And worth every dollar.

We loaded up the SUV with the family one early Friday morning over Labor Day weekend and began our journey from Las Vegas for our first Southern Utah vacation.  As we wound our way up through SR 14, just outside of Cedar City, we came upon these towering bright red, pink, and orange rock formations of Cedar Breaks National Monument. The Indians called this millions of years old formation the “Circle of Painted Cliffs.”  After taking in the beautiful rocks, we continued our journey up to the peak of the mountain pass. Once we reached the summit I checked my altitude smartphone app and it read 10,020 ft. We rolled down the windows to inhale the crystal clear air and the aroma of subtle pine – and you can definitely feel the thin air at that altitude.

As we began our descent from the peak, we viewed the diversity of the Southern Utah landscapes as we passed by giant volcanic fields, birch and aspen trees, as well as alpine lakes and streams. We made a quick stop just before Duck Creek Village to watch a fly fisherman reel in a beautiful rainbow trout. As we made our way to our vacation rental we could see a family enjoying an ATV ride though the marked trails of the Dixie National Forest and knew that would soon be our family on our own ATV adventure. Once we arrived at our vacation rental we looked over into the pasture of the estate and saw a herd of wild Mule deer doe’s with their babies making their way to drink from the onsite watering pond.

Jordan, the onsite caretaker, welcomed us as we pulled up to the estate. He opened the front door to begin a tour of the home. That seemed secondary at the moment; we stood there in the great room and admired the breath taking views of the Dixie National Forest and Bryce Canyon though the large picture windows. It’s hard to describe the feeling you get when you are surrounded by the natural art that God has created for us to experience. The kids quickly made their way to the deck to see the deer come to the pond and feeders. I thought the squeals of the excitement from the kids would scare them off, but it only caused them to take a quick glance and they went about their business. The home is amazing, it has everything you would want for five star accommodations and the craftsmanship of this large log home is exceptional to see.

I could write a book about the details of the experience we had over the 3 days we stayed, but to make a long story short, we rode ATV’s directly from the property, hiked the trails of Bryce and Zion, fed the horses, collected fresh eggs for breakfast from the chicken coup, picked fresh vegetables from the garden, roasted smore’s over the firepit, enjoyed a glass of wine at sundown with my wife in the hot tub, and cooked some amazing food on the bbq. It was a bonding experience for my family that we will never forget.

So you may be wondering why this was the most expensive vacation of my life? It’s a special place that profoundly impacted me and my family so we decided we wanted a place to call our own. We bought a lot just across the ridge and are planning to build our own mountain retreat this spring.

How to Manage a Vacation Rental Property

By Elite Destination HomesVacation Rental Management

Vacation homeowners can easily become overwhelmed by the task of figuring out how to manage a vacation rental property. So, we suggest taking it one step at a time, getting the foundational elements in place and operationalizing every aspect you can.

Create a Budget

The first step in our list of how to manage a vacation rental property is creation of a budget. It is important that you account for utility bills, property maintenance, housekeeping, household supplies, and the inevitable wear and tear on furniture, electronics, and appliances. Set your rates after analyzing similar houses in the market and project your income taking into account the weeks you will be using your home and the occupancy rate you believe you will achieve.

House Readiness

Running a successful vacation home management business is dependent upon ensuring an exceptional guest experience. So, make sure your home is ready for rental guests. Lock your personal items in a storage closet. Determine how you will stock and stage your home for each rental. Create a checklist to use prior to each guest’s visit. You want to make sure everything is in working order and fully stocked. Create a manual that contains household instructions such as how to operate the remote. Plan for a meet and greet with each guest so they can be walked through your vacation rental property and educated on how to use all the electronics and appliances.

Centralized Calendar

Out of all items in our list of how to manage a vacation rental property, having a centralized calendar is business critical.  Your home will be listed on numerous websites, and your centralized calendar should feed these listings. It should include holds (when you are working to close a reservation), booked stays and your blocked personal and maintenance days.

Reservation Management System

Choose wisely because your reservation management system will be the backbone of your vacation rental business. You’ll want a reliable system that will track: dates on hold, confirmed reservations, special arrangements, signed rental agreements, down payments, final payment and all other guest related information. A system that facilitates the confirmation of this information with your guests is ideal.

Marketing

In order to reach a broad base of potential renters you’ll want to make sure your home is listed on all the top rental listing sites. The game is ever changing with new players entering the arena all the time. Research your competition to ensure you are positioned and priced well. Continually monitor your page rank and plan to regularly optimize your listings. If your vacation rental property is not on the first page of search results, it’s literally not on the map and sites are continually changing the factors that contribute to rank. So, as part of how to manage a vacation rental property, plan to keep a watchful eye on the ever-changing rental marketplace.

Partners

Deciding to turn your vacation home into a rental property is a big commitment, however there are numerous professionals in the vacation rental business who already know how to manage a vacation rental property and can help those that do not have the time or expertise to do it all themselves. Engaging a professional property manager, concierge, housekeeper, and vacation rental agent will ensure you have allocated the necessary time and expertise required for success.

When figuring how to manage a vacation rental property, be as prepared as possible. Operationalize as much as you can and put a system of checks and balances in place to ensure your business runs like clockwork.

Ready to give it a go? We can help. Elite Destination Homes has been marketing an international portfolio of multimillion-dollar luxury vacation homes since 2005. We have helped numerous homeowners launch their vacation homes for rent.  Contact us today. We can answer any further questions you may have about how to manage a vacation rental property.

 

 

Vacation Home Management – Ensuring an Exceptional Guest Experience

By Elite Destination HomesVacation Rental Management

Out of all that goes into running a successful vacation home management business, nothing is more important than providing an exceptional guest experience. While it’s your home that will draw them in, it’s the experience that will bring them back and produce the rave reviews that draw others to you. Ensuring an exceptional experience is all about attention to detail and fostering a personal relationship.

Vetting Guests

It’s important to make sure that your home is right for the guest and that the guest is right for your home. For this reason we recommend talking to each guest on the phone at least once during the process. Are they a family with small children?  If so, is your pool and patio area kid friendly? You’re not just selling them a place to sleep, you’re helping plan for a memorable vacation experience, so ensuring a good match is critical.

Confirm All Details Three Times

There are a lot of details involved in vacation home management. Getting a date wrong or neglecting to follow up on a special request can wreak havoc on a family’s vacation. That’s why we consider it best practice to verify all details once verbally and twice in writing. Getting it right is critical, so ask for a confirmation from your guest. Strong communication skills and follow up are the hallmarks of a successful vacation home management business.

Meet & Greet

Traveling to someplace new and figuring out how everything works once you get there can be both tricky and stressful. So plan for an in person meet and greet when your guests arrive. Greeting them in person with a welcome gift will go a long way in making your guest feel at home. Give them a tour of the property and show them how everything from the TV remote to the dishwasher works. Provide them with an itinerary including scheduled maid service and any reservations. Help them plan their stay with information about the area and recommendations to your favorite restaurants and attractions.

Post Visit Checklist

Your property manager, one of the many professionals that can help you grow a successful vacation rental business, should have a scheduled walk through once the house has been cleaned after the guest’s visit. Have them use a checklist to assess the home for any damages, and ensure all in is working order and well stocked for the next visitor. Keeping everything ship-shape is foundational to vacation home management.

Follow Up

Plan to personally follow up and thank guests after their stay. This shows that you truly care about their experience and provides an opportunity for you to receive some valuable feedback. If they enjoyed their stay, don’t hesitant to ask for a review.

If you are interested in getting into the vacation home management business, we’d love to offer our services.  Elite Destination Homes is a vacation rental management company that has successfully been marketing an international portfolio of multimillion-dollar luxury vacation homes since 2005. We’ve written a white paper on how to rent a vacation home by owner and helped many homeowners successfully launch their homes as rentals and we’re dedicated to providing exceptional vacation experiences for our guests. We’d love to hear from you.

 

The 5 Pillars of Successful Vacation Rental Management

By Elite Destination HomesVacation Rental Management

Many vacation homeowners are intrigued by the prospect of entering the world of vacation rental management. The idea of developing a new revenue stream and offsetting mortgage and home maintenance costs is quite attractive. To determine if this is viable for you and your home, we have come up with the five pillars of successful vacation rental management.

1. Location, Location, Location

We’ve all heard this before, but what does it truly mean? Your home may be lovely, but the marketability of it as a vacation rental is completely dependent upon the desirability of its location.  If the area you are in isn’t known as a vacation destination, you are going to have a hard time renting it out. If you’re uncertain, Trip Advisor annually publishes a list of top destinations chosen by their travelers. You can also check for listings in your area on HomeAway and VRBO. Seeing full calendars is a good sign that you too can enter the vacation rental management business.

2. Proximity to Amenities & Attractions

Unfortunately just being in a fantastic resort destination isn’t good enough. If you’re near the ocean, renters will be looking for a beachfront villa. If you’re in the mountains, they want ski-in ski-out. Proximity to the main draw of the area directly correlates to both the rental rate and the number of nights booked.

3. Wow Factor

To secure bookings, your home needs to stand out from other listings. It needs to show well, look well maintained and have a wow factor. Photos are one of the most influential factors in generating leads. They have the power to mesmerize and inspire action so we highly recommend hiring a professional photographer to bring the experience of vacationing in your home to life.

4. Expert Sales & Marketing

This is a highly competitive and complex business that requires vacation rental marketing and sales expertise. A savvy digital marketing team will ensure your vacation home is broadly marketed, well positioned and priced competitively to drive qualified leads. An experienced sales team will be responsive, educated on the latest trends in vacation rentals, and use a consultative sales approach to secure bookings.  The rental landscape is ever shifting and vacation rental management pros know they must optimize their efforts regularly to maximize revenue.

5. Rave Reviews

At the end of the day, it all boils down to the guest’s experience.  Therefore it is crucial that you hire reliable, service-oriented professionals for your vacation rental business. Delivering an exceptional vacation experience every time will earn you the reward of great online reviews and positive word-of-mouth, the most influential form of marketing for those in vacation rental management. However, even if you deliver an exception experience, reviews don’t come automatically, you need a follow up process in place.

Still wondering about the viability of your home as a vacation rental? Give us a call.  Elite Destination Homes is a vacation rental management company that has successfully been marketing an international portfolio of multimillion-dollar luxury vacation homes since 2005. We can determine the revenue potential of your home, set you up for success with a custom sales and marketing program and help you secure those coveted reviews.  Contact us today.

Vacation Rental Pros and Cons

By Elite Destination HomesVacation Rental Management

The vacation rental industry is growing with more travelers choosing vacation rentals over hotels than ever before (49% according to Trip Advisor.) As a result more and more homeowners are choosing to rent out their luxurious vacation homes. If you are considering this option, we have a list of vacation rental pros and cons that will help guide you to the right decision when determining how to best enter the vacation rental market.

Vacation Rental Pros:

There are many upsides to renting out your vacation home.

1. Leverage Unused Time For Income

There are likely many days and weeks that your vacation home is left unoccupied. If you decide to start a vacation rental business you will reap the benefits of watching your home’s previously unused time turn into cold hard cash.  It’s this financial upside that is clearly first on the list of vacation rental pros.

2. Offset Mortgage Expenses

Turning your vacation home into a revenue stream can serve as a great way to offset your mortgage and maintenance expenses. According to HomeAway, 49% of homeowners report that their rental income covers at least three-quarters of their mortgage payments. This additional income can also be used to fund upgrades and new amenities. Have you always wanted to add a pool or a larger patio? Feel your bathroom needs a remodel? Go for it. These dreams can become reality with the extra spending money you will earn.

3. Share Your Passion

The opportunity to provide access to the local culture and share the unique experience of staying in your home is one of the most rewarding aspects of renting to like-minded travelers.

4. Support Local Merchants

By referring your guests to your favorite neighborhood markets, restaurants and shops you not only support their businesses, but you also help your guests have a more authentic local experience.

5. Expand Your Horizons Through Home Exchange

There are select rental agents that offer free vacation home exchange when you list with them. Through these programs you can trade unused time in your home for a stay in another family’s vacation villa. Your vacation options expand exponentially as the agent’s portfolio becomes your portal to the world.

Vacation Rental Cons:

 

There are a few compromises that come with renting out your vacation home however they can be minimized if you plan appropriately.

1. Your Home Is Booked

A rental reservation is indeed a good thing, however there will be times when you’d like to use and you can’t because it’s rented out. To ensure this doesn’t create any conflicts, block out the dates you want before your home is marketed to renters for the calendar year.

2. Additional Wear and Tear

Your home will end up being used more so plan for additional wear and tear on your furniture and other home items. Vetting your guests will help keep this to a minimum, but it should be accounted for as part of your annual budget.

3. It’s a Complex Business

The vacation rental industry is complicated. It’s important to be prepared and educated on how to protect yourself and your business should any issues arise. From late cancellations to injuries that occur on your property, make sure you are buttoned up on the legal side of things. Also, you need to keep a watchful eye on the marketplace. New rental listing sites pop up all the time and consumer preferences change. You want to make sure you are listed on all the right sites and that you are showing up on the top of their pages. Sites are continually tweaking the algorithms that determine rankings so optimizing your listing is a constant.

4. It’s Time Consuming

If you handle the rental of your vacation home all on your own it could end up feeling like a second job. If you’re not looking to make that much of a time commitment, there are many professionals that can help you build a lucrative vacation rental business. Engaging experts not only gives you peace of mind, but will help you continue to enjoy your vacation home for what it was originally intended, a place of rest and relaxation.

As you think through the various pros and cons of the vacation rental business, we’d like to offer our help. Elite Destination Homes is a vacation rental management company that has successfully been marketing an international portfolio of multimillion-dollar luxury vacation homes since 2005. We’ve helped many homeowners successfully launch their homes as rentals and with our free international vacation home exchange, the vacation rental pros clearly outnumber the cons.

Ready to dive in? We can help you get up and running by leading you through our tried and true process for setting up a vacation rental business. Contact us today.

Four Partners Essential To Building A Successful Vacation Rental Business

By Elite Destination HomesVacation Rental Management

The vacation rental business is growing at a rapid pace and can serve as a great way to offset a vacation homeowner’s mortgage and maintenance costs. However, homeowners may shy away because of the hours required to manage bookings and the effort needed to meet the demands of this complex industry.

Good news, there are a number professionals you can partner with that will make diving into the vacation rental business much less daunting.

Property Manager – Ensures Your Home is 100% Guest Ready

Choosing someone to manage the maintenance of your home will be crucial to the success of your vacation rental business. Your property manager will oversee housekeeping and handle all property maintenance. They should be well connected in the area as they will be helping you hire and manage the housekeeper, pool service, exterminator, landscaper, air-conditioning service, etc., They will ensure any repairs are taken care of and that household supplies are in stock. We recommend you build a house inventory that can serve as their shopping list for getting your home set-up. Then, have the property manager use it as checklist after every guest visit to assess for damages and ensure everything is in working order and in stock. Something will eventually go wrong, so you want a person with a sense of urgency who will respond quickly and stay in communication while they are getting the issue resolved. (Read more about the importance of a property manager.)

Concierge – Creates Memorable Experiences

Choose a concierge who is passionate about the area and about creating memorable experiences for guests. You want someone who is creative, fun, energetic, bright and connected with what’s going on in your area. Someone you will look forward to seeing when you visit.

Your concierge’s main role is to make your guests feel at home and well cared for so choose someone who is willing to contact the guests before they travel to discuss pre-arrival arrangements.  Have them greet your guests with a welcome gift and provide a tour of the house and property explaining how the appliances and electronics operate. They should make your guests aware of the cleaning schedule and provide them with an itinerary. You want someone who can help your guests have an authentic local experience by offering recommendations to the best neighborhood merchants and restaurants as well as unique local activities. If an extra bed or towel is needed, they are on call to cater to the vacationer’s every need. In case of emergency your concierge will be your guests’ first point of contact, which will help you rest at ease even if you are halfway across the globe.

Housekeeper – Makes Sure Your Home is Spotless

Hire a reliable and detail oriented housekeeper with strong references. You want someone who will be on time, work hard and be willing to look in the corners for dirt. Choose a person who cleans from the top down, starting with the chandelier and finishing with the floor. We recommend choosing someone with staff so when there is a small window of time between guests they have options for who they can deploy. And we suggest scheduling a test-clean when you are in town so you can ensure standards are understood and met.

Create a checklist to be used each time the home is cleaned and establish a set rate per cleaning. Determine a consistent cleaning schedule, typically mid-week and immediately following the guest’s stay. Keeping a clean home is fundamental to a successful vacation rental business.

Vacation Rental Agent – Secures Qualified Bookings

Marketing your home as a vacation rental is both a complex and competitive business. Hiring a professional vacation rental agent will give you peace of mind that your home is well positioned and broadly distributed. At Elite Destination Homes we’ve been successfully marketing luxury vacation homes since 2005. We can help you set your rates and position your home against competition. We will promote your home across 20+ international online channels and with the top travel agents. We respond quickly and professionally to inquiries and have a growing database of discerning clientele that we continually market to. We review occupancy, revenue and promotions weekly to turn open calendar dates into booked vacations. Our sole focus is on maximizing rental revenue. Learn more about our vacation rental marketing services and see how we compare to other vacation rental agent options.

Successfully renting out your vacation home may seem daunting.  However, with the help of professionals you can build a lucrative vacation rental business and still carve out the time to truly enjoy your vacation home.

Ready to dive in? If you start with us we can help you get the rest of your partners in place. We can also help you get up and running by leading you through our tried and true process for setting up a vacation rental business.

Benefits of a Vacation Home Exchange

By Elite Destination HomesVacation Rental Management

Love your second home in Jackson Hole, but long to spend a week relaxing on the beaches in the Caribbean? A vacation home exchange may be in order. Vacation home exchange is exactly as it sounds. You trade a stay in your lovely home for a stay in another family’s fabulous vacation villa in the Turks and Caicos. Or Paris. Or Tuscany. You pick.

Opening up your home to other like-minded families unlocks a world of possibilities. Your vacation options expand exponentially  without any additional expense for accommodations. In essence, you leverage the investment you’ve already made as a way to travel the world.

As a vacation homeowner you already know that staying in a home is a much more authentic way to travel and experience a foreign destination. When you stay as a guest of a homeowner you’ll get a list of their local recommendations and favorite haunts. You’ll walk the neighborhood, shop at the local market and gather in the kitchen for meals. Instead of being confined to a hotel room, you can unwind and reconnect while barbequing on the patio.

Besides the economical considerations, another tangible benefit to vacation home exchange is that it truly is a planet friendly way to travel. It reduces the demand on the resort industry and fosters support of local merchants.

While there are exchanges you can join for a fee, at Elite Destination Homes we provide free vacation home exchange to all luxury homeowners who have chosen us as their vacation rental agent.  We offer an ever-growing international portfolio of luxury villas. You simply let us know which home you are interested in and Elite handles everything. We contact the owner, arrange the trade and handle all the scheduling. There are no points to accrue, no blackout dates, and no fees.

And with all travel to Elite properties you get access to our free concierge service. Your personal concierge will be on-call and nearby to cater to your every need. Whether it’s pre-stocking the pantry, booking tee times, or making dinner reservations we’ll make sure your vacation experience is exceptional.

Learn more about vacation home exchange through Elite Destination Homes and check out our portfolio of multi-million dollar properties in sought after beach, city, country, and ski destinations. Contact us for more information about our vacation rental management services and get ready to explore the world.

Do I Need a Property Manager for My Vacation Rental?

By Elite Destination Homes | Vacation Rental Management

When deciding to rent out your vacation home your first question may be, “Do I need a property manager for my vacation rental?” If you are looking to generate substantial income and not looking for a second job, the simple answer is yes.

In order to run a successful vacation home rental operation, you need to put your business hat on and start thinking about your second home as a revenue stream. Getting the appropriate support staff in place will be key to your rental success and will also help you protect your home as the vacation getaway you always intended it to be.

Property maintenance is a constant for homeowners and maintaining a second home an airplane trip away can be both time consuming and challenging. Hiring a local property manager to handle the maintenance and upkeep of your vacation home will give you the peace of mind you desire while also ensuring your home is in tip-top shape for renters. It is critical that your home be well maintained to ensure the best possible guest experience. Positive experiences lead to positive reviews, your best form of online marketing.

We recommend hiring a property manager who is well networked with service providers in the area as this person can help hire and oversee your housecleaner, the lawn and pool service companies, window washers, etc. For repairs, they will tap into their network and get multiple bids and check references to ensure the best people are hired for the job.

Your property manager should be put in charge of all household supplies. They can help you create a home inventory and take care of shopping when it comes time to replenish or replace.

During a guest’s stay, your property manager should be on call to handle any repairs or issues that arise. After every stay, they should do a review of your home to check for any damages and ensure everything is in working order and well-stocked for the next visit.

To ensure there are no surprises, your property manager should help you set a budget for the home and be put in charge of a house bank account. They can use this account for receipt of rental revenue and for payment of all recurring bills. These funds can be accessed for replenishing household supplies and for covering miscellaneous repairs.

We cannot stress how important a top-notch local property manager is to your vacation rental business. However, they’re not the only partner needed; a house cleaner, concierge and vacation rental agent should also be part of your rental team. Some property managers’ capabilities may include house cleaning and concierge duties, however most property managers lack the expertise needed to navigate the highly competitive and complex world of online marketing. For this role you need an experienced sales and marketing professional who can drive qualified leads and secure bookings. And that’s where we come in. Elite Destination Homes is a vacation rental company that’s been handling vacation rental marketing for luxury homes since 2005.

Still questioning, “Do I need a property manager for my vacation home?” Maybe you’re now wondering how to find one? In either case we can help. We have local property manager partners in over 20 international destinations and are well connected in the vacation rental business. If you choose us as your vacation rental agent we can help you source a top-notch property manager.

Learn more about Elite’s vacation rental management services or contact us for help in finding a property manager for your rental vacation home today.