3 Questions Before Buying A Vacation Rental

It’s no secret that the vacation rental industry is hot. Because of this, I’ve been having a lot of discussions with individuals wanting to dive headlong into income property ownership.

The first questions new investors have been asking me involve the money needed to obtain and maintain a second home and/or if it will turn a profit. This is an important piece of the equation for long-term viability, but should not be the primary factor of consideration.

As in many industries, opportunities for financial success exist. But many proprietors do fail because they lack the know-how, drive needed to startup or the ability to look at their business situation critically and realistically.

Definitely get excited about the potential! Ambition is what keeps the dream alive. Just be sure to find time to step back and ponder these three important questions before buying your vacation home to ensure it’s right for you:

1. Intentions: First and foremost, everyone should understand why they want to embark on an income property adventure. Ask yourself what you like about hospitality and why you want to host travelers.

If your primary intention is to quickly profit on a booming industry with little effort, vacation rental ownership is probably not for you. Managing your own vacation rental takes a lot of thought, care and hard work. If you are not interested in (or don’t have the time to) build a hospitality business over time, I recommend a different venture.

Sensible ambitions for starting your own vacation rental business include, but are not limited to; your love of meeting new people, the desire to help create memorable vacations in an area you love, gaining flexibility to travel personally (a lot of people rent their personal homes to pay for a vacation!) or even the desire to increase your income in the future.

Owning and managing my own properties is very satisfying. I absolutely love interacting with travelers and the flexibility my job brings. But, without consistent effort it would not a profitable career. Challenge yourself to fully understand why you want to do this!

Girls Trip 2007

2. The Art of Liking People: Successful owners love people and interacting with all types of personalities. If you would rather chew glass than deal with guests regularly, this might not be for you.

A lackluster attitude will not excite travelers enough to rent your home and certainly won’t make them feel welcome upon arrival. Profitable owners have a high rate of repeat guests because they have outstanding guests service and an infectious attitude. It’s easy to sense if someone is genuine (which then reflects on how we feel about an experience), so ensure you are really excited to work with people.

Equally important to note, you will encounter difficult situations with authorities, neighbors and problematic guests. In my experience, they don’t happen often (I screen guests before booking) but inevitably there will be time when you have to navigate diplomatically. It’s important to be honest with yourself from the start and understand if you are up for the constant engagement.

3. Business Sense: There are a lot of skills needed to be able to build a profitable vacation rental business. Of which, organization, being detail oriented, and the ability to manage a business are key factors to success. These skills aren’t difficult independently, and can certainly be learned, but I think they are important to be cognizant of before jumping in.

Managing the home itself is much like running your own home; you have a mortgage and utilities to pay monthly. That part is pretty simple. However, the many additional moving parts can be overwhelming at times so it’s important to have an organization system in place. Below are a few examples:

  • Inquiries and bookings can come in quickly before peak season (and at inopportune times). It can be difficult to keep details straight (name, contact information, purpose of the trip, how excited they were and so on), so I always carry a moleskine notebook with me.
  • You will need to ensure your cleaning and maintenance companies (if you choose to hire this out) logistics are tightly organized between bookings.
  • Business licenses need to be kept up to date and sales taxes need to be paid (sometimes quarterly or monthly depending on how your business is setup).
  • Maintaining clean books for your accountant.

Marketing, strategy and finance all come into play. It’s okay if you don’t have a deep understanding of these from the start but you should be interested in learning more of each and in strengthening your organizational approach as you develop your vacation rental business.

Honestly assessing your intentions, life situation, skills and knowledge will help you determine if you should consider this venture. If all signs are a go, rest assured knowing you can be profitable doing so.

Girls Trip 2007

World’s Smallest Luxury Hotel

Two reasons I love the below post (from A Luxury Travel Blog):

1. Vacation Rental owners have the ability to include such important detail in their properties allowing them differentiate guest experiences and create something really unique. Attention to the right details truly makes good income properties great.

2. It’s designed to help the locals improve their way of life! In my opinion, every owner (vacation rental, boutique hotel or ecotourism destination) should contribute to the conservation of the local environment and improve the well-being of local people, their sense of community and way of life.

The world’s smallest luxury hotel By Madeleine Hann on Apr 28, 2014, A Luxury Travel Blog

After hearing that a new luxury hotel had opened on the rural outskirts of Jaipur, I was already very much intrigued. However, after learning that the resort was built in Anopura; a tiny, untouched, rural Indian village which my husband hails from, I simply had to experience it for myself.

Anopura is quite possibly the world’s small luxury hotel, offering just two guestrooms and a luxury tent. Located an hour outside of bustling Jaipur, Anopura is an oasis of natural beauty and serenity, nestled in the shadow of the ancient Aravali Mountains and endless green fields. This is a side to India that many tourists never get to see; a glimpse of rural life that hasn’t changed for centuries. The only noise you’ll hear is the occasional peacock’s cry, or the gentle chirping of crickets in the evening; a welcomed contrast from the buzzing Pink City of Jaipur.

As I arrived at Anopura, my initial concern of a modern hotel spoiling the natural beauty of my husband’s village disappeared. The small resort has been built to reflect a traditional Rajasthani home, blending seamlessly into its surroundings, complete with a traditional thatched roof and hand-crafted block printing motifs.

I was met by the hotel’s friendly General Manager, Ishwar, and guided through to the central courtyard. I immediately noticed the fine details, which really bring Anopura into its own. The traditional touches are just stunning. Every corner was tastefully filled with tableaux that evoked a sense of complete peace and tranquillity. Here, I can spot all the traditional elements of a Rajasthani village home, spruced up with a touch of luxury and elegance. Placed in the centre of the courtyard is a beautiful charpoy (traditional Rajasthani woven bed stretched over a wooden frame) which now serves as a lounging chair, adorned with comfortable oversized cushions – a brilliant way of incorporating local aesthetics with a fresh approach.

The two guestrooms are known as the Kedjeri Suite and the Champa Suite. Both are spacious, airy and extremely comfortable. Each room features the finest locally sourced furniture and tasteful block-printed fabrics. The bathrooms are black marble, with an abundance of white fluffy towels. There is no television in the rooms, as the resort invites you to escape in your thoughts, completely relax and almost forget where you are. However, there is a communal lounging room with a couch, television, complimentary wifi and a selection of inspiring reading matter.

Between meals, there is little to do other than breathe in the scent of frangipani, relax on a charpoy around the stunning plunge pool, and take in the majestic countryside views. For the more energetic of guests, the resort offers a range of complimentary activities, such as a bird-watching, camel trekking, Jeep safaris or a visit to the local village. Anopura also provide chauffeured vehicles into the city centre for those who’d like to explore the Pink City, at the splendid City Palace and Amber Fort. The wonderful sights, sounds and smells of Jaipur can result in an overload for the senses, and so I imagine Anopura is a delight to return to after sightseeing, as you settle into a comfortable chair with a glass of wine, awaiting a delicious meal from the chef.

Anopura

From my point of view, as an adopted citizen of Anopura village, the best thing about the hotel is that it was consciously designed to help the locals and improve their way of life. The property has brought plumbing and stable employment to this underdeveloped community. The owner, a former Belgian diplomat, hired local people for the construction at every opportunity. His staff at the hotel all hail from Anopura village, even his resident chef, Chotu, who he trained to prepare a repertoire of delicious local dishes along with European cuisine. During my visit, Chotu was preparing Bruschetta, sourced from locally grown herbs and vegetables. He has now earned a reputation as one of the regions finest chefs.

For those who want to steer away from the beaten track without compromising on luxury, Anopura is the perfect choice. Despite only staying for an hour, I left Anopura feeling relaxed and inspired: I can only imagine how one would feel after a wonderful two night stay!

Rooms at Anopura start from £200 per night depending on the season. Prices are inclusive of all meals, soft drinks, local activities and taxes.

Original post found here.

Tripping Partnership!

Volo is happy to announce a formalized partnership with Tripping, the world’s largest search engine for vacation rentals!

In addition to blogging regularly on Tripping, Volo will develop a prolific series of vacation rental resources to help real estate investors achieve higher occupancy and profits. We have already been hard at work creating books, tutorials, podcasts and webinars and look forward to sharing them with you and our new partner soon!

As a special Easter treat and our first Tripping blog post, here are 5 more Secrets to Vacation Rental Profits (in addition to those posted yesterday with Nancy Tallman).

If you have specific topics you would like us to cover in these resources, please leave a comment or send me an email (kris@volovantage.com)

Hop A Ride on My Journey of Wanderlust

Rolling in a 1992 Astro Van, dad behind the wheel, mom as co-pilot, little brother and sister in the first bench seat, and big sister Cori in the back riding solo. (Is the back not where the cool kids always hung out?). We were road tripping to Orlando for the Spring Break of 1994. Little did we know that this was our first and our last family vacation all wrapped up in one.

I was fifteen years old heading to Disney World; our parents were on the brink of divorce, yet I was thrilled to be going somewhere. Anywhere! As we crossed the border into Florida it started to snow. We stayed at a Best Western. We ate at Red Lobster and Ponderosa. We fought a lot and teased our mom.

When I think back on this trip now, it seems laughable. But that was my life then, that was my upbringing, those are my roots. We did not spend money on going out to dinner or entertainment. So the times when we got to get a Hardee’s soft serve cone, went to a movie, split a Happy Meal at the mall, those were special times, they were a treat.

Us kids sometimes laugh now as adults how “deprived” we felt as children of all the materialistic pleasures and entertainment that money could buy. But what we do not laugh about is that we were raised to believe in hard work, family and community connections, financial responsibility, honesty, and resourcefulness.

I am not sure how influential this first trip to Florida was, if at all on my future wanderlust, but it did mark my first real journey has a “traveler.” The fifteen year-old me had no idea that the adult me would have already traveled to over thirty countries and walked on five continents. Proudly all on my own time, money, and desire. I have raced the setting sun on horseback to the top of a mountain in Patagonia, bathed in a mud volcano in Colombia, been attacked by monkeys in a kayak in Thailand, had my first food orgasm in Perpignan, France, and gotten worms in India.

Come journey with me as I reflect on memorable travel encounters around the globe, muse over the times I have been brave enough to make significant life changes, and work towards my lifestyle dream of self-employment, cultivating joy and fostering healing in the lives’ of others. Witness me secure financial freedom and flexibility to be able to invest in activities and adventures that nurture the spirit!

By Cori M. Hildebrandt | Volo Blogger, Globe-Trotter & Psychotherapist

Prevent Vacation Rental Scams

Park City’s busy season is coming to an end. At its height, hundreds of thousands of visitors flocked to our little town to enjoy a cozy Christmas holiday, the Sundance Film Festival or a great family ski trip. With nearly 50% of travelers seeking vacation rental homes over hotels, great business opportunities have emerged for individuals vacation home investors and scammers alike. Websites like Craigslist are a productive place for travelers and owners to find/post deals but has also come under scrutiny in recent years for scams.

Mid-March, I received a somewhat frantic email from a man who was planning a trip for himself and his buddies. Most of whom were flying internationally to Park City. They thought they had found the perfect home away from home, but quickly found that they had been scammed. After payment was sent, the ‘owners’ disappeared. They were left completely stressed as their vacation was the following week!

Fraudulent listings have become very sophisticated with scammers going as far as drafting rental leases. Luckily, I had a few days open for this group of men, and through a web of colleagues, we were able to piece their vacation together (although at multiple properties). After talking more in-depth with them, overlooked ‘signs’ were acknowledged. With this said, I think it’s important to reiterate important precautions for travelers and for vacation rental owners as we move into the popular summer season for specific destinations:

1. Reliable Website: I often use Craigslist or KSL.com (popular for Utah properties) for additional exposure. But I always, ALWAYS include links to my vacation rental hosting sites, like VRBO, Airbnb, Tripping, etc. First and foremost, it lets potential guests know that I’m running a legit business. And an owner, I never book through Craigslist alone. I always ask that potential guests choose one of the popular vacation sites to book through. I further provide the guest benefits, like travelers insurance, property damage insurance and Guarantee’s should your prospective vacation home be double booked, foreclosed on, etc.

2. Payment: Do not send money via a wire or Western Union. If you book off a site like Craigslist, be sure to use Paypal or a Credit Card, so you can at least try to dispute charges should a booking go awry.

3. Call: Call the owner before booking. Owners, I also suggest calling potential guests before you approve their stay if they haven’t already reached out. Ask for references or look at on-line reviews. Airbnb offers guest reviews from owners in addition to property reviews from guests. These are helpful. Tripping has an anonymous review system in place, which tends to be more candid.

4. Instinct: Pay attention to suspicious behavior, poor grammar and your instinct. The gentlemen in my example said “in hindsight, the property really was too good to be true…there were signs that it was a scam.”

As an owner or traveler, have you ever been a victim of a vacation rental scam? If so, what did you learn from it that might be helpful for others?

Transform Your Life :: Ques From Modern Travelers

Gone are the days where impersonal service can be foregone to luxurious amenities. In an increasingly impersonal world, travelers are longing for personal and authentic experiences; they go out of their way to seek real adventure. This shift is skyrocketing the vacation rental by owner industry and is giving many independent real estate investors (not millionaires, normal people like you and me!) the chance to consciously change our lives. Check out our latest hospitality guide: Modern Traveler!