The Ultimate Guide to Owning a Successful Maui Vacation Rental

If you’ve visited my Hawai`i real estate blog before, you may have read this Essential Guide to Buying a Maui Vacation Rental – as well as some of my recent posts about Maui condos for sale. Next, let’s run through some tips that could help maximize the return on your Maui real estate investment.

When it comes down to it, Hawai`i vacation rentals are no different than others – even minor adjustments can make a major difference in bookings, reviews, and nightly rates. Here are some essential points to keep in mind as an owner.

Before & After

before photo after photo

What you see here are before and after photos of my own Maui vacation rental condo! My two main goals for updating it were:

  1. Do the right things without doing too much; make it fresh, modern, clean, and appealing to a wide audience.
  2. Incorporate an eye-catching feature to make it stand out.

More Specifics: What to Update

It’s important to remember that one reason many travelers choose a vacation rental over a hotel room is that they’d like to have the option of preparing some of their meals at home – so a nice kitchen can be a big draw! Ideally, the kitchen should be attractive and comfortable to cook in, with quality appliances – and it should be well-equipped with at least two of everything (glasses, plates, bowls, silverware, etc.) for each guest.

Guests also appreciate kitchen extras like a smoothie maker and a rice cooker. As you’re deciding on which extras to include, don’t forget that you can always look at comparable properties online to see what they’re offering.

Savvy vacation rental owners also pay close attention to details in the bedrooms and baths. Guests should be able to fully relax and get a great night’s sleep, which means providing them with quality mattresses and linens, extra pillows, a way to stay cool, and window coverings that effectively block out light. And if you’re not quite ready to fully renovate the bathrooms, a fresh coat of paint, new fixtures, good lighting, and quality towels can make a noticeable difference for a fraction of the cost.

Photos & Descriptions

Based on research by Tripadvisor and FlipKey, travelers are 83% more likely to make a booking inquiry about a property if the listing includes at least 20 high-resolution images. Quality photos draw in potential guests, and the more clicking they do within your listing, the better your property’s ranking in search results. The higher you rank, the more likely you are to be visible to other potential guests.

When it comes to a written description of your vacation rental, don’t forget to highlight all of its unique selling points. For example, is it oceanfront? Air conditioned? Within walking distance of restaurants and shopping? Close to great attractions or activities? Make sure you emphasize what distinguishes it from similar vacation rental options and mention every possible amenity (of the unit itself and the surrounding area). And speaking of amenities…

Amenities & Reviews

You’re probably already aware that guests will expect your vacation rental to offer conveniences like a reliable WiFi connection – but have you also considered items like beach towels, beach chairs, sunscreen, bug spray, a first aid kit, and possibly toiletries? How about “extras” like coolers, boogie boards, and board games?

Of course you’ll want to make sure your vacation rental lives up to its photos, to ensure that guests feel they’re getting what they paid for. Every part of the property should be immaculately clean, with all fixtures and appliances in perfect working order.

Also, guests will need to know: how to log into the WiFi and use the remotes, where to park, how to access the pool, and where to throw away trash. You may even consider preparing a local area guide, so they have the inside scoop on where to buy groceries and what restaurants, beaches, activities, etc. to try.

As you might have guessed, 72% of travelers say they won’t book a vacation rental that doesn’t have reviews. The more positive reviews you have, the more encouragement potential guests will have to book with you – and if you provide guests with everything they need plus some unexpected bonuses, you greatly increase your chances of good reviews.

Rates & Marketing

Whether you’re managing your property yourself or hiring a professional, it’s important to establish competitive nightly rates before you list it on vacation rental websites like Airbnb and VRBO. Again, you can always research comparable properties to find out what they’re doing – or ask your manager to do the research for you.

It’s common practice to adjust nightly rates based on the season and the special events happening in the area. Some vacation rental owners also use dynamic pricing tools (like Beyond Pricing), which automatically and continually modify rates based on occupancy levels in the area.

Finally, did you know that 57% of travelers say they’ll move on to another rental if they don’t hear back from you within 24 hours of making a booking inquiry? And according to Tripadvisor, owners who respond within six hours are twice as likely to secure a booking.

Putting it All Together

By following these basic guidelines, I’m finding that my Maui condo rents more often and for a higher nightly rate than surrounding/comparable units – because travelers recognize and appreciate a higher-quality experience. I’d love to help guide you through the process of finding and optimizing your own Maui vacation rental!

Leslie Mackenzie Smith, REALTOR(S), RS-42147

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