Your cottage can be a great money-maker when you are not enjoying it. Many owners choose to fill the empty weeks with visitors who are willing to pay top-dollar for a wonderful place to stay – especially during the busy holiday seasons. If you are considering renting out your cottage, here are some tips that will enhance the experience for your guests and increase the price you can expect, too.
Start by making sure your guest home is safe for visitors. Working smoke detectors and fire-extinguishers are an absolute necessity. Maintenance on electrical outlets, light fixtures and heating/air sources should be a priority. Having good insurance is a must. Accidents do happen.
Ensure Smooth Access
Next, see your home as a guest would see it. Notice the drive to the home. Is it gullied and washed out? Rough and bumpy or inaccessible during the winter? Fix what you can. If you can’t fix the road, advise visitors of the need for special transportation (snowmobiles, 4-wheel drive, etc.)
Check the Bigger Picture
Check out your home’s appearance as you drive in. Are there any shutters hanging crooked? Are bushes overgrown? Does it need painting or a new porch? First impressions are hard to change. Make the first impression of your home a great one.
A simple new ‘welcome’ mat, a good porch light and a nice front door can all say, ‘Come on in. We’ve been waiting for you.’ Decorating with holiday themes is a fun way to help guests enjoy their stay. Let your guests open the door to a beautifully prepared home. Christmas trees, pretty seasonal wreaths and even tasteful lights will help to make the season bright. Flannel sheets, scented candles (sugar cookie or pumpkin spice are good choices) and decorative holiday towels all add to the festive ambiance of your home. Take care not to go overboard with your decorations. You may enjoy an elf on every shelf. Guests may find it tacky. Keep it simple.
Clearly State Capacity
Next, decide how many guests you will allow. Sure, you could put twelve people in the house, but would they be comfortable? Would they be sleeping on miserable futon mattresses? Your goal is to comfortably accommodate guests. Make sure your kitchen table has enough seating for the number of guests your home allows. Nothing is more frustrating than taking a family of 10 to a cottage and finding a table with only four chairs. The same rule applies for dinnerware, silverware and coffee cups. Fully equip your home for the number of guests you allow. If you supply linens and towels, make sure there is an adequate amount of these, too. Don’t scrimp on blankets and comforters. A cold, sleepless night in a cottage is a miserable experience for guests.
Offer Outside Enjoyments
Now, consider the outside. A helpful list of nearby places to visit and things to do is always a good idea. You know the best paths to take in the woods. You have visited the local restaurants and shops. Pass on your knowledge to your visitors. It will be appreciated. You may even know of ways to save money while they explore. For example, on Tuesday night’s kids eat free at the local café. Or, coffee is buy-on-get-one-free at the coffee shop. Guests love saving money.
Enforce the Rules
Finally, rules of the cottage – smoking and pet policies and check-out time – need to be clearly stated. A simple binder explaining what is expected and what will not be tolerated is sufficient. Do guests need to strip the bed linens or take out the trash before leaving? Preparing a check-list works really well. Be clear in the instruction booklet to avoid conflict.
If you’re considering renting your cottage, be sure to check out listing options that safely market your home such as CanadaStays, which can connect you with millions of travellers by listing your property on their online marketplace, and with a secure payment platform that ensures payments are easily and safely managed.