5 Easy Ways to Make Money with Vacation Rental As a First-Timer

The Evolve Team
The Evolve Team
September 1, 2022

Right now, hundreds of people are entering the vacation rental industry every day as a way of building their investments and creating passive income. 

But for those taking on the responsibility for the first time, learning how to make money with vacation rental can feel daunting. That’s why we asked a handful of now-seasoned Evolve owners to share what they wish they knew when they were just getting their rental properties off the ground. 

We’ve taken their feedback and paired it with our own expertise managing thousands of vacation rentals across the country. The result? A get-started list of successful tips for first-time vacation rental owners.

In This Article:

Do Your Vacation Rental Homework

Don’t Pinch Pennies Upfront

Welcome Guests with a Variety of Tastes

Let Professionals Handle the Tough Stuff

Price Your Home for Year-Round Success

Dive deeper into these tips by watching the video below. Our experts break down exactly how to achieve vacation rental success as a first-timer.

1. Do Your Vacation Rental Homework 

Person googling questions about how to make money with vacation rental on a laptop

From setting rates and figuring out which listing sites are best to staying in the know on vacation rental tax guidelines, there’s a ton of industry knowledge first-time vacation rental owners must learn to be successful.  

“When I first started in the business in 2007, there wasn’t as much information about vacation rental readily available,” says Karen Hopkins, owner of eight short-term rentals in Branson, Missouri. “I would read everything I could get my hands on and study other rentals in my area.” 

Pave the way to profitability by doing your homework. When you soak up hospitality advice from experienced sources, you help avoid first-time mistakes and learn how to make money with vacation rental that much faster.

2. Don’t Pinch Pennies Upfront 

When you’re just getting started with vacation rental, it’s tempting to cut corners in an effort to maximize your returns. This often looks like:

  • Doing everything yourself so you reap 100% of the business rewards 
  • Skimping on household upgrades instead of investing in a refresh before guests see your rental property

Frugality might seem like a smart play, but it forces you to work tirelessly to make money with vacation rental. Ultimately, investing in the quality of your home upfront — and potentially hiring a vacation rental management company — can mean a simpler path to success with more money in your pocket. 

In other words, make sure your home has the upgrades that convince travelers to book, hire cleaning and property maintenance partners that keep your home at a five-star level, and partner with an expert team (like Evolve!) to help you pull all the right levers that can maximize your investment.  

3. Welcome Guests with a Variety of Tastes

Large bathtub with outdoor views in a vacation rental

When decorating your vacation rental, it’s important to create a comfortable and convenient space for any guest to enjoy, be it a business traveler, a family, or someone with a pet

Start with a base canvas of classic, crisp lines and color palettes. Use interior design tips that can help you get more bookings, and prioritize neutrality to appeal to a wide variety of tastes. From there, you can add subtle accents to your decor that can make your home feel unique both to the destination and the guests themselves. (Think mountain touches in ski properties, and coastal decorations in beach homes.) 

It’s also important to invest in high-quality furniture when you first open your rental’s doors. “At first, we used the outdoor furniture we had instead of shelling out for new chairs, and our guests noticed,” says John Lisanick, the owner of this sweet cottage in White Stone, Virginia. “We corrected that right away and added ample deck chairs and cozy cushions.”

The final step in capturing understated luxury: keeping rooms well-stocked with necessities. Our free, easy-to-use vacation rental inventory checklist helps you consistently take stock of important household items in every room so you never fall short of guest expectations.

Get more first-timer tips when you download our free guide: The 6 Biggest Secrets to Making Thousands More with Your Vacation Rental

4. Let Professionals Handle the Tough Stuff

When you manage a rental property the right way, you can make impressive amounts of money in a matter of months. The secret: not doing everything yourself. 

Outsourcing some of the more daunting business elements — like setting a dynamic pricing strategy and marketing your vacation rental — to a trusted partner can give your home an unrivaled sense of professionalism right out of the gate. It can also help you avoid setbacks that often accompany inexperience, resulting in a positive return on investment while doing a lot less work.

That’s what happened for Hopkins. “After I made the switch to partnering with Evolve, my revenue increased by far more than my fees,” she says. “Plus, it left me with more time to take care of all the other parts of the business so we could continue to grow.”

5. Price Your Home for Year-Round Success

Calendar showing January 2022 as the first page

All too often, DIY owners make mistakes when setting daily rates for guests.

There are a number of elements to think about when you’re first starting to price your vacation rental that will help you hit that just-right rate. The key is to pay attention to market data, seasonal fluctuation, and direct competition. Be sure to measure your home against others with equivalent amenities and conveniences. And stay away from applying personal value to certain luxuries. (Just because you’d pay $100 extra per night for a 3-car garage doesn’t mean your guests will, too.)

Bottom line: a dynamic pricing strategy is crucial for capturing the highest number of bookings while making top dollar on every reservation. At Evolve, we’ve developed an exclusive algorithm that analyzes billions of ever-changing data points to help continuously set the right rates. Couple that with our expert revenue analysts, and Evolve owners make more money with vacation rental than those using traditional pricing methods.

A dynamic pricing strategy is one part of Evolve’s holistic revenue strategy — designed to optimize your property and help you earn more.

Give Your Vacation Rental a Profitable Head Start with Evolve

As a first-timer, having the right resources and strategies under your belt is key to learning how to make money with vacation rental.

That’s why we created a free downloadable guide that’s full of all the secrets you need to truly make your home a success.

Inside you’ll find:

  • Exclusive strategies we use every day to help owners hit revenue goals
  • A deeper look at how to create the perfect listing and set smart policies
  • A game plan for meeting and exceeding guest expectations

And if you’re interested in partnering with Evolve, know that we’re always here to help you earn more while stressing less. We’re confident our professional insights and guidance can help your home shine.

Get Our Guide to Earning Thousands More

We’ve got the expert intel for making more passive income — and all the secrets around what not to do. Enter your email to get a FREE copy today.

By submitting this form, you agree to receive updates and marketing communications from Evolve. For more information, please read our privacy policy.

Featured Posts

10 Ways to Maximize Your Vacation Rental Income This Year

10 Ways to Maximize Your Vacation Rental Income This Year

Here’s how to make more money on Airbnb, Vrbo, and other top listing sites — and hit your highest earning potential.

The 12 Best Places to Buy a Ski Property Right Now

The 12 Best Places to Buy a Ski Property Right Now

Explore mountain towns across the U.S. with high profit potential, so you can find the perfect ski spot for your next investment.

How to Make a Vacation Rental Welcome Book That Impresses Your Guests

How to Make a Vacation Rental Welcome Book That Impresses Your Guests

Our free guest book template has everything you need to set visitors up for a great stay.