Preparing for your first guests is an exciting time for a new STR host! You are charged with the task of creating a calm, comfortable home away from home.  Guests love to feel a sense of familiarity and ease in the space, and it should always be clean and tidy.

Appointing your unit to match your nightly rate, is important.  A bargain hunter will be more forgiving of a small bathroom with fewer amenities, as long as you are honest in your listing. The higher the cost of the unit, the higher your guests’’ expectations will be. The most important thing at this stage is to create cohesion between the reality of your STR and what guests want and expect.

Establish Your Brand

Your grandma was right: you’ll never please all the people all the time. Remembering that every guest is unique and what they want varies will help you appeal to the folks who want what your STR has to offer.  Match the unique qualities of your short term rental to your ideal guests and market directly to them:

  • If you have a cozy cottage in quiet town, you’ve got a perfect romantic getaway.
  • A bigger house with lots of bedrooms near a park means your space is ideal for a family with school-age kids.
  • A great apartment on transit lines in a busy downtown district will delight business travelers.

Keep in mind that guests searching for an ideal location, beautiful, cozy, charming places blur together on the various rental platforms, so you’ll want to give your property a name that stands out and accurately reflects your brand. Think of it as a business. You wouldn’t name a restaurant “Cozy Diner with Yummy Food with Mountain Views”. Give your property a clear, short and memorable name that will make word-of-mouth marketing simple. With a great name to identify your property, you can start to build a cohesive brand with the right amenities, coherent design, a great logo, and, the holy grail–a  great Instagram story.

Creating your Guests’ Space Starts with Putting Your Own Stuff Away

Guests want to walk into a space where they can feel free to be themselves and enjoy their temporary surroundings. As much as you love photos of your favorite nieces and nephews and Turkey Trot race trophies, those types of personal-to-you items interrupt the magic of your guests’ experience. It’s hard to feel like you belong while surrounded by photos of people you’ve never met!  

We recommend a locked storage situation where you can pack away things that are breakable or irreplaceable so that they can’t be broken or stolen.  You’ll also want to stow away personal paperwork, and highly valuable items such as jewelry or silver should be placed in a bank vault or under additional security within your storage area.

If you have a closet that is easy to lock and doesn’t take away valuable storage for your guests, that’s a good option. If not, perhaps a locked storage cabinet could be installed in a spot that won’t interfere with your guests use of the space.

You can stow your personal items in easy to use storage boxes, which can be easily stashed away in your locked closet or storage cabinet when your space is in use by guests. 


The Ins and Outs

Your guests will need to be able to get into your unit with relative grace and lock it up with a sense of security when they leave for daily outings. You may find a lock box with a key or two inside is a fine option – just keep in mind those keys can get lost or copied if your guests are carrying them with them as they come and go. You’ll need to have an emergency plan in place for if that happens. 

We prefer a keyless entry option, with a keypad at the door knob. There are options that allow you to set different codes at will, meaning no two guests will have the same code. Some are so fancy pants that you can set the codes remotely, while others require you to be on premise to make that change. Once again, weigh the nightly rate you’re charging with your guest’s expectations and go from there. An investment in a very convenient entry scenario can pay for itself easily with a higher priced unit. We go into more depth on the different types of locks here if you’re having trouble deciding. 

Play Guest in Your Home

Have a little fun. Pretend you are staying in your home as a guest or better yet as a critic.  Make sure all the light bulbs work. Is it is easy to find a plug to charge your phone? Can you find the corkscrew?  Figure out the remote control? Need an extra pillow on the bed? Keep a list and take action to solve problems. Replace the light bulbs and add detailed instructions in your guest guide.


Protecting your guests and your property is paramount. Be sure and equip your home with three key items. A good smoke detector, an easy to use fire extinguisher, and a first-aid kit.

Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detector: The 2nd Generation Nest Protect is a favorite among both industry experts and uses. It uses a split-spectrum photoelectric sensor designed to identify both smoldering fires and fast burning ones. As a short term rental owner, you’ll really appreciate its internet connectivity, which sends notices to your phone altering to you when the batteries run low, avoiding the guest-irritating chirp, or of smoke and or carbon monoxide incidents. Allowing you to check in with guests.

First Aid Kit When choosing or putting together a first aid kit be sure to include the basics. Most kits will have them, but not all.  This list isn’t inclusive, but it contains the essentials:  

  • Splints or Wraps
  • Gauze
  • Medical Tape
  • Bandages
  • Rubbing Alcohol
  • Antibiotic Cream
  • Splints or Wraps

You can make your own or opt for a well put together pre-made kit.  Your kit should be located in an easy to find location, we would recommend the kitchen or bathroom, and its location should be noted in the guest book.

These first essential steps will have you well on your way to positive guest experiences and reviews.  Once you have these essentials in place, it’s time to think about good design! Which, of course, is our favorite part.