by Vicki Langhel
I was always the one who booked the annual beach vacation and I remember all too well that when we first opened the door to the home I had booked, sight unseen, I would be either a hero or a dog to the rest of my group. That first impression would set the tone for our entire week. This is true of every guest's arrival: their first journey through your home, from pulling into the driveway to the moment they've finished unpacking and started relaxing, is one of the most critical experiences they'll have in your home. If anything in this initial process is disappointing, it can set a bad tone for the rest of their stay and put them on high alert (consciously or subconsciously) to look for other things that may not meet their expectations. Don't let this happen to your home! Remember: you only get one chance to make a good first impression - so make it a good one! Here's how.
Let's start with curb appeal. When your guests pull in to your driveway, will they be even more excited to get their vacation started or will they be unpleasantly surprised by a lackluster look? Start your guests' stay off right with a welcoming arrival. This includes not just the condition of your physical house, but also the landscaping, decks, under-house storage space, pool area (if applicable), and an inviting entry. Landscaping should be trimmed regularly, not only for a nice presentation, but also to keep mosquitoes and ants at bay. Deck furniture should be in good condition and organized into defined seating areas. The same goes for pool deck furniture, and the rest of the pool area should be kept clear and free of debris. If you have gear stored under your home, make sure it's tucked out of sight in a storage closet. Last but not least, check your front door: this is your guests' first point of contact with your home, so make sure it looks good and isn't difficult to open because of salt or rust.
Good curb appeal today also benefits you in future rental seasons. Did you know that every year hundreds of reservations are made from visitors driving by a home and simply calling the number on our rental signs? They base their selection solely on the appearance of the exterior of the rental home, so make sure your property makes them want to book your home and not the competition on either side of you!
Inside Your Home
The next time you visit your home, walk through it like your guests would. When they enter, will they be greeted by clean carpets, dust-free walls and surfaces, and décor that isn't faded? When they call dibs on their favorite bedroom, will they want to flop down on a cozy and inviting bed right away? When they run upstairs to take in the view, will it be easy to see through windows that are free from fog or salt buildup and dated window treatments? If your answer to any of these is "no," you've got some work to do.
Next, take a close look at your kitchen, a key area of the home where your guests will likely have the most touch points. Your appliances should be in good working order and rust free. Your dishware, cookware and other kitchen tools should be fully stocked and well organized.
Once your guests have unloaded their luggage and groceries, how easy is it for them to kick back and relax? Your living room electronics should be easy to figure out, and your furniture should be inviting with clean upholstery, fluffy cushions and comfy throw pillows.
To give your guests nothing but the best first impression, think of your vacation rental like a garden: you need to nourish it each and every season if you want it to grow. Investing in your guests' first impression is one of the best things you can do to get them in your door and keep them coming back!