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Vacation Rental Mistakes to Avoid

Updated: May 25, 2023

In talking with many DIY vacation rental hosts and even other management companies, we are surprised so many are still making these common mistakes. As a vacation rental host, there are numerous things to keep in mind when managing your rental property. Even small mistakes can have a significant impact on the guest experience and the property's profitability. Here are some of the most common mistakes that you should avoid when operating a vacation rental.

1. Inadequate Marketing

Marketing plays a critical role in the success of your vacation rental. If your listing isn't visible enough, you will not receive enough bookings. Not giving enough information about your property or not displaying attractive photos can make it difficult for potential guests to book. Make sure that you have an eye-catching listing with updated pictures and descriptions.

2. Poor Cleaning

Providing clean, organized, and neat spaces are critical to any vacation rental. Dirty rental units can lead to negative reviews, and guests may not want to rent your property again. Cleaning should include washing all linens and towels, thoroughly wiping down surfaces in the kitchen and bathroom, and vacuuming carpets and floors.

3. Underpricing Your Vacation Rental

Setting the correct pricing for your rental can be challenging. Undervaluing your property can result in losing money, and overpricing can result in a lack of bookings. However, it takes a lot more than finding nearby properties with the same number of bedrooms, baths, or square footage as you would when selling or renting your space long-term. You also have to consider the aesthetics, property features, quality of furniture, and even the type of host and what they have to offer. For example, you wouldn't compare a Holiday Inn to a Four Seasons. Even if both hotels were next to each other, had the same size rooms with the same number of beds and both offered the same amenities like beachfront views. You will be paying an even higher nightly premium at the Four Seasons than at the Holiday because you are getting higher quality linens, better overall room aesthetics, and usually better customer service.  Research local listings of hosts similar to you to see how much others are charging, and remember to consider the season, location, number of sleeping accommodations instead of just the number of bedrooms, aesthetics, scenery/views, and quality of furnishings before setting a price. You'll also want to reassess as often as possible. Especially when you are approaching a change of season or they are local events that can impact your bookings.

4. Not Understanding Your Local Laws & Regulations

Each city or state may have different laws and regulations that apply to vacation rentals. Some may require permits or payment of taxes, while others may limit the length of stays from guests. Be sure to become familiar with these laws and follow them to avoid penalties or legal issues.

5. Failing to Communicate with Your Guests

Guests appreciate responsiveness and quick communication with the property owner. Lack of communication or delays in responding can lead to negative reviews or unanswered questions. Consider setting up a system of automatic messaging or hiring a property management company to handle communication.

6. Not Insuring Your Vacation Rental

Insurance is essential to protect your property from unexpected events, such as theft or damage. Without insurance, you may incur significant costs if an incident happens. It’s critical to understand your insurance policy, especially how it will cover you in the event of a claim. Start by contacting your current homeowner's insurance company. Many offer Short-term rental insurance. If not, don't fret, there are many companies that specialize in vacation/short-term rentals. There is Insuraguest, Proper, and Steadily to name a few. It's important to have short-term rental-specific insurance that will cover you in case of accidents and damages related to your guests.

7. Overbooking

It's no surprise that overbooking can lead to unhappy guests and reviews. Unfortunately, this seems to happen often, especially for those who cross-post on multiple sites and don't have a good way to integrate the multiple calendars. If you are only listing your place on one site, this isn't something you really have to worry about because all major booking sites like Airbnb and VRBO automatically block out the dates on a property as soon as they are booked. However, if you're one of those who are listing on multiple sites, then you will want to invest in property management software that can connect to the multiple sites you are using and will automatically block out dates on other sites when a property is booked. For example, if your property gets booked on Airbnb then your property management software will block out those dates on all other sites like VRBO, TripAdvisor, etc. There are multiple companies to choose from, and it might require paying for the service, but it will be money well spent to avoid double booking a property and the hassles that come with it when it happens.

8. Not Gathering Feedback & Making Improvements

Guest feedback can be useful in identifying areas for improvement. If guests frequently mention a lack of amenities or cleanliness issues, take this feedback seriously and make changes accordingly. Additionally, consider refreshing the decor and upgrading amenities to keep the rental updated and attractive to guests.


Operating a vacation rental can be a profitable and rewarding experience, but it’s essential to avoid these common mistakes. By taking the time to research and understand the market and regulations, investing in marketing, providing excellent cleaning and communication with guests, and gathering feedback to make improvements, you can offer an unforgettable experience to your guests and generate better rental yields.

Here at GoTell Getaways, we have tools in place to avoid all of these common mistakes. Contact us today to find out how we can help you get away from the hassles that come with vacation rental management. Sit back, relax, and watch your profits grow with GoTell Getaways!


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