It’s really easy to get caught up in all the things you could do to make your short term rental better and more likely to get those five star reviews you crave. Which is amazing… until you stumble upon one of these things that fall into the category of “Do it right, or don’t do it all.” And when I say “right,” I mean 110% right. Are you doing these things? They’ll certainly up your ante, as long as you’re rocking them out. If you can’t rock ‘em, just walk away from ‘em. We’re talking her about things that your guests aren’t likely to notice if they’re missing, but they’d certainly notice if it was there and executed poorly.

1) Plants.
A lush and thriving house plant is an amazing addition to a short term rental… it’s a nice dose of special sauce. A beautifully landscaped outdoor area is a fantastic perk and a planted window box will bring a smile to most any guest’s face. On the other hand, however, a dead or dying plant will bring down the mood in a room quicker than you can say “water that poor thing”! And brown and crunchy bushes along your front walkway don’t exactly scream “welcome home.”

If you have a green thumb and live close to your rental, then by all means, leap ambitiously into an STR full of beautiful plants! And if you don’t fit that description, but still want to provide your guests with the life-giving oxygen a house plant provides, consider finding a local service that can help choose the appropriate plants for your space and coordinate care for those plants to keep them happy and healthy in your space. Here in Durham, Planted By Design fits that bill perfectly. If you’re not in the triangle, I bet there’s a budding local business who could serve you, too! 

2) Social Media
Obviously we love a good social media account and we definitely think you should have a well-populated, recently updated Instagram account for your rental. As long as you promise us you’ll post to it regularly and look alive. An Instagram account that hasn’t been updated for months is a pretty big turn off for modern travelers. If they’re looking for current pictures, seasonal updates, and signs of life, you gotta give them to them! A potential guest will likely be more forgiving of you not having an Instagram account at all than they will be if they find your account and think you’ve abandoned ship. You don’t want to give your guests any chance to think “If they upkeep their property like they upkeep this account, I probably don’t want to stay there.”

3) Kid-friendly
We’ve written an article devoted to how to do kid-friendly well. But we didn’t really mention that if you’re not going to do it well, then just don’t bother! Certainly don’t advertise your unit as a kid-friendly place to stay if you haven’t given it your all.

I once stayed at an AirBnB with friends who had kids (I do not). We had chosen that spot because it seemed well-appointed for children. Unfortunately, we had to spend the first few hours of our vacation making kid-proofing improvements that the host really should have done themselves. We moved valuables to high shelves out of the grip zone of little fingers, and we actually had to rearrange the kitchen drawers so that sharp knives weren’t in a low drawer easily accessed by kids. There weren’t any baby gates provided in a home that had a ton of stairs. Best I can figure the owners had planned for older children and provided two twin beds in one room with some kid-themed bedding and fun artwork (that was the highlight of their listing), but that’s about it. It was pretty disappointing when we realized it just “looked” kid-friendly, but it wasn’t actually.

Managing a short term rental can be fun and exciting, but it requires diligence and paying attention to the little details. It also means that sometimes you have to be honest with yourself about your capacity to accomplish certain goals. If you don’t have time to manage social media now, but can work toward making the space in your schedule to do it well at a later date, just wait until you have the time and space to do it right! Put yourself in your guests shoes and imagine how they will interact with your rental unit, and with you. Then make plans to do the things you do really well and excel at them, and leave off what you just can’t bring to the best light at the moment.