If you want a calendar booked solid with happy travelers, you’re in the right place.
If you’re thinking about getting started with vacation rentals but don’t know where to begin, you’re also in the right place.
Here’s the deal: In order to succeed in this business you need to know the rules of the game, and they’re not obvious.
As the president of one of the largest vacation rental owners association in the U.S., I’ve had the benefit of working with hundreds of owners through all kinds of interesting, fun, and sometimes challenging situations. Vacation rentals are my passion, and I’ve made the successful marketing and managing of them my mission. This blog is part of that journey, and I invite you to join me if you’re also interested in:
- Learning how to get started the right way.
- Learning the most common mistakes to avoid.
- Hearing from the brightest minds in the industry.
- And much, much more…
Much of the material from my upcoming book series, “Vacation Rental Success, Insider Secrets to Profitably Own, Market, and Manage Vacation Rental Property” will appear here first as interviews, excerpts, tips, and tricks.
Vacation Rental Success! Volume One - From start to profit.
My first introduction to vacation rentals was as a guest, not as an owner. As passionate world travelers who have both lived abroad, my wife and I were eager to pass along some of that excitement of discovery to our young son, and so we planned family excursions we hoped would generate that spark. But there was always something missing. Somehow, those trips fell just short of our expectations. I don’t recall who steered us toward a vacation rental instead of a hotel stay, but in 2005 we booked a private home in the historic Centro of San Miguel de Allende, Mexico for ten days. It was a revelation!
First, San Miguel is one of the most beautiful cities in Mexico—the colors, the smells, the people, and the pace of life... staying in our own private home let us melt into the city and the neighborhood instead of always bumping into hotel staff. There was no noise from the hallway at 3 o’clock in the morning and no one pestering us to buy their latest vacation package. We found our own rhythm and a new way of seeing things. We decided then and there we would never go back to a hotel unless there was no other option.
It felt unusual to be staying in someone else’s home, and it became an adventure. It was as much fun exploring the property as it was the city. Our hosts had furnished the place so thoughtfully, with beautiful artwork and photographs, sculptures, and walls full of books. No hotel had ever come close, and the modest rates made it affordable for a family with a young child.
My wife and I discovered authentic Mexican culinary classes in San Miguel, where you could train with masters for an hour or two, and then hit the markets for fresh ingredients. We could then go “home” to recreate what we had just learned in “our” kitchen. That just wouldn’t have been possible in a hotel—we were truly able to bring the city home with us. We even discovered a local school that allowed day time drop-ins, so our son had the opportunity to play and interact with local Mexican kids for a few hours every afternoon as my wife and I explored more of the sights, sounds, and tastes of San Miguel. And as we watched our son make friends, learn some of the language, and develop opinions and observations about our temporary new home, we knew that we had all discovered a new way of traveling and experiencing the world that would be life changing for all of us.
That vacation gave us a taste of a lifestyle that we all wished would never end. Not long afterwards, we got our chance to make that vision a reality
Back in Austin, Texas, our primary business had been purchasing homes, renovating them, and reselling them at an appreciated value. We loved the work and the satisfaction of “recycling” dwellings that would improve other people’s quality of life. We worked out of a small cottage near our home, not realizing the true value of this office space—until a good friend urged us to consider turning it over for a profit. “It’s so cute, and close to all the tourist attractions. Its charm is wasted as your office,” our friend chided us. “Buyers would love it.” We looked at each other and knew he was right.
But we had become attached to our little cottage and couldn’t quite let it go. Instead we decided to try renting it for short stays. When this proved successful, we realized that we could keep the property for its income stream. We didn’t have to sell after all! And so we stepped into a new career, one that would eventually lead to a new way of life.
In a few short years, we planned and scraped and saved; we learned more about management, and when the time came, we were able to take advantage of opportunities to buy several more properties. These needed only a little love and ingenuity to turn them into the type of vacation homes that we would be proud to stay in as well as rent out. That first experience in San Miguel had given us a feel for what renters want. People who would opt for a vacation rental over a hotel want the comforts of home, but also the extra touches that they can’t get in their everyday spaces, which always become cluttered with the “stuff” and obligations of daily life.
We knew how to create that extra-special environment. We chose properties near where we lived, offering what we love about the city to guests, and keeping our workload manageable. This strategy resonated with nearly everyone who came to stay with us. We heard great comments, from “I totally fell for Austin on this stay...” and “...one of the top five places we have stayed—from India to Cayman Island, New York, San Francisco...” to “The house itself is full of little touches that make it feel like staying at a friend’s place” and “How lucky were we to stay at this amazing property!”
The concept took off, and the dynamic of welcoming newcomers while giving them the privacy and atmosphere needed to relax was one that fit right in with our personalities and work styles. In short, we loved what we were doing. But we had never lost our desire to capture that feeling for ourselves, and the income would give us the freedom to travel more and more, as our son grew older.
What we discovered, and what we offer to guests at our rentals, is the chance to expand the meaning of a vacation. Simple time off or time out can be immeasurably enriched by the discovery that comes with the best form of travel—even short-distance travel, close to home. Let’s face it: We are all creatures of habit, and travel takes us out of that safe orbit to meet people with different traditions, amazing talents, and new points of view. Yes, this can happen outside a hotel—but those boundaries inevitably restrict us.
And so our new business became an outlet for our passion on this subject. We added properties, dressed them up, and brought in like-minded guests whose experiences of Austin became an extension of our rental spaces. As my family did on that groundbreaking San Miguel trip, our guests melted into the culture. The response has been overwhelmingly positive, and it represents just a small subset of the overall vacation rental industry, which is seeing enormous growth year after year. This is how people want to spend their hard-earned time and money. This is how people want to travel.
By reading this blog and my book series you will discover how to profitably own, market, and manage vacation rental properties, too. And you don’t haveto follow exactly in my footsteps. My story is just one of thousands. There is no single way to successfully manage a career or a second income in vacation rentals. It’s a lifestyle that you can mold to your own strengths, hopes, and dreams. You can forge your own path. You can begin a journey that will take you many places.
I’ll show you how to take the first step. Come with me!