Today, more than ever, renters have a strong sense of what they want in a vacation experience. With so many choices on the Outer Banks, from luxury to rustic, it is easy to lose sight of what is most important to your target customer of your vacation rental home. Over 41% of travelers believe that vacation rental homes have better amenities than hotels. Every amenity must be carefully considered to make sure it is satisfying guests and not draining your pockets. It is not necessary to have every amenity to get loyal guests and a fully booked calendar.
By far, having wifi internet at your vacation home is a must have for the majority of guests. From entertainment, directions to local attractions and keeping in touch with work or home, internet access has become more a necessity than an amenity. Vacation home owners can save money with plans only activated during the rental season.
Fully Stock Kitchen Amenities
There is nothing like having a kitchen that offers all the appliances and space to cook for a large group. Custom kitchens are the best to maximize kitchen efficiency and storage capacity. The island in a fully stocked kitchen is like having a second kitchen in the middle of your kitchen. It has plenty of counter space; its own sink, cabinets and drawers for storage; and other features like additional ovens, microwaves, and a second dishwasher. Many vacation homes are shared by multiple families with multiple cooks. A large kitchen allows for multiple meals to be cooked simultaneously.
Top end appliances will not add value if you don’t have good quality pots, pans, glasses and dishes and cooking utensils. Keep in mind all of the items needed to stock your vacation home kitchen as thoroughly as your permanent home kitchen. Your guests will appreciate your attention to detail and thoughtfulness. If you are missing a large pasta pot, your guest will never forget it. Many homeowners include specialty items like slow cookers, wine coolers and a stand-alone ice maker.
A vacation home without a grill leads to disappointment. Some owners believe a charcoal grill is adequate but most guest will appreciate the convenience of gas. The gas is usually included with the rental and the additional cost is minimal when compared to the level of satisfaction provided to guests. Vacation and grilling just seem to go hand in hand. Dad tends to fire up the grill so it gives Mom a break in the kitchen. Be sure to locate the grill in a safe place and make sure guest do not use the grill on decks or enclosed areas.
Washer / Dryer
A washer and dryer is a standard feature in most Outer Banks vacation homes. There are few laundromats in the Outer Banks and no guest wants to spend precious vacation time in a laundromat. Families with children view a washer and dryer as a necessity while on vacation.
Summer on the Outer Banks is a great time to relax and entertain outdoors. Large decks are one of the top desired features of vacation homes. The deck isn’t just a place for parties, but somewhere you can watch a beautiful sunset or curl up with a good book. Many Outer Banks homes have multiple decks and deck levels with high end furniture and they are viewed as additional living spaces. A private deck off the master bedroom is great to get some fresh air before retiring for the evening.
A swimming pool has a way of encouraging families to get together. In ground pools add to the value of a home and real estate agents say pools increase the market for a home and allow a seller to ask for about 10 percent more for the house. A vacation rental home with a private pool is ideal when ocean conditions are not conducive to swimming. You can beat the heat by cooling off in your swimming pool with family and friends.
A home with access to a community pool or other community amenities can reduce the cost compared to a private pool. Private pools and hot tubs need to be serviced about 2 times a week in season and these fees add up.
Swimming pools are great in the summer when it’s warm, but hot tubs can be enjoyed all year long. Hot tubs are one of the most popular features for Outer Banks vacation homes and they allow you to enjoy the beautiful autumn nights outdoors. Hot tubs can be used as a family gathering place and can be designed so it has all of the features you need.
If your bathroom has a jetted or “Jacuzzi” tub be sure to specify it in your listings to appeal to the guest who wants “Calgon to take them away”.
The dining area of the vacation home should adequately seat all the guests enjoying the home. After all, the guests came on vacation together to enjoy each other’s company and probably do not want to eat in shifts. This is especially important if you intend to rent your home over the holidays where the meal is the focus of the day.
Multiple Master Suites
Multiple master bedrooms are becoming increasingly popular and are a desired feature for vacation homes. An alternative to multiple master suites, many vacation homes offer connecting bathroom to both masters. Multiple master bedrooms allow families sharing the vacation home to each enjoy adequate space and luxury.
A home theater room is a popular amenity in many of the large vacation rental homes. These rooms, featuring high end video and sound, “lazy-boy” chairs and a popcorn machine is a thrill for young and old alike. Gather all the kids on a rainy day for a Disney movie marathon.
If you are considering a home theater for your vacation rental home, keep the controls easy to understand and simple to use. Otherwise, you can incur higher expenses from guest unable to use the equipment and additional calls for maintenance techs to re-set the equipment.
Frequently, just having large flat screen tvs in multiple rooms in your vacation rental will allow each guest to enjoy the type of entertainment they are looking for without the steep investment of a high tech theater room.
Game rooms have been a staple to the Outer Banks vacation home for many years. From simple “rec room” areas with games for the kids to high end pool tables and adult games, a game room is great for getting the vacation party started.
Accepting pets at your vacation home can attract more guests who just can’t bear the idea of traveling without Fido. Before adopting a pet friendly policy, keep in mind that guest with allergies will not want to vacation in a rental home that has accommodated pets. Also, weekly cleaning can take more time and cost more to make it ready for the next guest.
A gas fireplace is a great way to remove the chill and create a peaceful ambiance in your vacation rental during the fringe or cooler fall and spring weeks. One caution is to make the fireplace unavailable during the summer season as guests may light the fire at the same time the air conditioning is on full blast.
The small things
Sometimes the best way to make your guest feel welcome is in the small things that make them feel like home. Books, Videos and games for the kids will provide hours or engagement when the weather is not nice and do not cost a lot. Similarly, beach chairs, bikes and kayaks can be the icing on the cake when a guest is selecting from similar homes. Toys for the beach and pool is a great thing for families with children and with no room to pack and travel with these items.
The downside of providing these small items is the need for frequent replacement. Sometimes, it is best not to advertise the small items and have guest be pleasantly surprised that they got even more for their money. Also, this avoids guest complaints should something be missing or broken.
The best way to decide which amenities to offer is to focus on who you want your vacation home to appeal to. If you have a theme, you can build you amenities around that theme and appeal to the clientele who will respond to the theme. A home with a gourmet kitchen can appeal to “foodies”; add a gift of a local wine or pickled specialty to make a lasting impression.
If you are in the market for a vacation rental home either as an investment or a second home, contact the pros at Eillu. Each community on the Outer Banks has different rules and attracts a different demographic. We will show you the different areas and discuss the advantages and disadvantages of each.