Wondering how to get better reviews for your AirBnB, VRBO, or vacation rental home? Renting a house or apartment is my #1 choice when I travel, and I have stayed in a variety of wonderful and not-so-great places. Here are my top suggestions for owners and managers to improve their short-term rentals and earn those excellent reviews.

Get Better Vacation Rental Home Reviews

1. Fast reliable internet

Please do not assume that travelers will want to unplug at your rental. Some of us have to work while traveling, and some of us want to work while traveling. Taking the time to obtain the most reliable, fastest internet possible will go a long way toward receiving good reviews.  Let your renters know that you put in the time to get the best internet available.  Include notes in your welcome binder on how to troubleshoot the Wi-Fi if it does not work properly.  By all means, create a short, easy to remember password to replace the default one, and post the password in both the renter/guest binder and on the Wi-Fi device.   If you are in a remote location with no neighbors’ Wi-Fi’s, consider not requiring a password at all.

4 photos showing a laptop in different settings: on a rock by the woods, on a table by the ocean, on a table by a lawn, on a table by the woods

2. HipMaps

You will certainly stand out from the crowd of rentals with this one! Take your list of suggested places to go (restaurants, coffee shops, markets, hikes/walks, area attractions, shops) and turn it into a HipMap that is easy to read & understand. Using the free HipMaps smartphone app, your renters can see their location right on your map, read your comments on each place (Best burger in town!) and get directions to the places you recommend. They will love you for your thoughtfulness and the time they will save on scrolling through Yelp, Trip Advisor & Google Maps/Apple Maps trying to find the best pizza place – and love translates to fantastic reviews!

Vacation Rental Villa Sample HipMap

3. Easy self check-in

Your guests will probably be weary from traveling, so make check-in as simple as possible.  A lock box door opener keyed to the last four digits of your guest’s cell phone will guarantee no last-minute panicked calls to retrieve a forgotten lock box code.  Leave a light on in the entry room and over the kitchen stove for those late arrivals.

Photo of an electronic home lock with push button numbers

4. Comfy mattresses and a variety of pillows

Please, this is not the place to skimp. Purchase high quality mattresses with covers that you launder often.  Our backs will thank you.  Stock your bedrooms with a healthy variety of fresh smelling, non-musty pillows – firm, soft, feather, bamboo – and all of our necks will sigh with gratitude.

Photo of a variety of pillows stacked in 2 piles

5. Washer & dryer

Guess what? Laundry always happens!  Including access to a washer and dryer, with detergent supplied, and bonus – a clothesline – feels like a necessity to many of us, not a luxury.  Have detergent available for those who forget theirs.  If the majority of your guests are one-night renters passing through, I guarantee that the ability to do laundry will be greatly appreciated. This can be the difference between 4 stars and 5 stars.

white dryer stacked on top of white washing machine

6. Comfortable place to work

Again, some travelers have to work, and some want to work.  Providing a comfortable place to set up a laptop or workstation, with lots of available outlets, will go far.  Bonus points if you provide an adjustable office chair! The work area does not need to be in its own room with a door – a corner of virtually any room would suffice.

man and woman working at a table with laptops, notepads & pens

7. Welcome pets

Oh, I’m sure that this will not be happy news to some of you but the fact is about 66 million Americans travel with their pets every year.  Why would you exclude that huge number of pet owners from your pool of potential renters?!?  Most of us who travel with pets are very responsible.  And we will love you forever if you provide throw sheets or covers so our pets will be allowed on furniture. Beacon & all his friends will thank you!

Beagle dog sleeping on red couch with a window & log cabin wall behind him

8. Well stocked kitchen

Even if your kitchen is small, provide a set of microwavable dishes and mugs, drinking and wine glasses, flatware, knives, can opener, cooking utensils, serving and mixing bowls, measuring cups and spoons, cookie sheets, baking pans, large and small pots and frying pans.  Not everyone will be eating takeout all the time.  A coffee pot with appropriate filters, an electric tea kettle, microwave, toaster/toaster oven (with directions on how to use if they’re fancy ones) are also essential, as are dishwashing liquid, dishwasher detergent, and clean sponges.  Dull knives are a literal drag, so include a knife sharpener in the utensil drawer.  It doesn’t have to be fancy, it just needs to work.  Salt and pepper, packets of sugar and sweeteners, a box of aluminum foil, plastic food ziplock storage bags and a box of trashcan liners will also be appreciated.

Woman in kitchen holding a wooden spoon in one hand & red wine glass in the other

9. Night lights

Wandering around an unfamiliar house in the middle of the night to find the bathroom can be disorienting, and turning on an overhead light can break the sleep pattern.  Place low-level, light-sensitive automatic night lights in the bathrooms, hallways, and kitchen. The toes we will not stub will thank you.

night light with green glow in the corner of a room

10. Handrails in the bathroom and in shower/tub

Believe me, the existence of well-placed and sturdy grab bars is a deal-breaker for my parents – they won’t consider staying in a home without them.   Younger guests may have problems with balance and strength, or may be recovering from injuries, and will also appreciate handicap bars. A small detail that can go a LONG way toward a very appreciative review.

stone hand coming out of stone wall holding on to railing

Final Thoughts

Renters love thoughtful touches and will reward you with fantastic reviews if you make them feel like you really care about their experience. Not every item on this list will work for every rental of course, but try to implement as many as you can within reason – the fantastic reviews will flow on in!

5 orange stars

Who am I to come up with this list?  Well, I’m staying in a vacation rental as I write this! Over the past two decades I’ve rented many apartments and homes across the USA and in countries around the world, and not only do I pay attention to the details but I greatly appreciate them. Convenience and enhancing my traveling experience with these thoughtful touches are always going to get you better reviews – and I am not alone in saying that I will pay extra for them!

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