If there’s one thing every successful vacation rental owner needs to be, it’s adaptable. Industry trends are constantly changing, and your revenue optimization strategies must continually change with it to maximize rental income.
But with all the nuance of shifting market conditions, there are also actions owners can take with consistent profit-driving value — those you should repeatedly revisit to set yourself up for success in any vacation rental landscape.
And it’s more important than ever to make these moves now. An ongoing imbalance between supply and demand growth this last year has created a highly competitive traveler’s market, where winning bookings means leveling up every aspect of your business.
Oh, and make no mistake: there’s still plenty of revenue opportunity to grab across the U.S. — nearly $19.8 billion worth in 2024. It’s all a matter of how you strategize. So, here’s how to maximize vacation rental income this year and make the most of your performance potential.
When guests search for vacation rentals, they know what they want. Investing in the things that draw the most attention from travelers in your area puts your home in the running for more bookings — and boosts the value of one. This not only gives your rental a competitive edge, but also an opportunity to increase rates and drive more income.
There are even certain amenities that guests want to book no matter their destination. Data shows properties with hot tubs, for instance, tend to see 29% more bookings throughout the year nationwide than those without.
Other amenities have region-specific value — like outdoor gear in the South and pet-friendly adds out West — so zeroing in on what has the most impact locally is the next step in leveling up your investment opportunity.
To truly maximize your vacation rental income, the best time to upgrade amenities is in your market’s shoulder or off seasons. That’s when you’re likely to have more time between bookings, so you can make in-home changes without impacting the guest experience and you’ll be prepped in time for high-season volume.
That said, the sooner you invest in your home’s value, the sooner you can reap the rewards. So if you have the time and resources to install upgrades quickly — again, without disrupting the chance for your guests to give a five-star review — jump on your earliest opportunity.
While it’s always important to keep your rental as-advertised, it’s especially important when you invest in amenities and upgrades. Making sure your listing reflects new profit-driving perks can help you rank higher in guest searches and show up in more of them. Offering high-value adds can also allow you to charge more per booking, which could translate to more vacation rental income.
That said, you don’t just want to mention your amenity investments — you need to show them, too. Listing photography helps a traveler visualize their stay in your home, and having quality imagery to showcase your new hot tub or updated backyard space can take them from looker to booker.
Of course, portraying new investments accurately should always be top of mind. No guest wants to show up to a property that doesn’t match what they booked online, so your listing description should clarify any seasonal considerations for amenity usage, and your photos should never distort the space. When you miss that mark, you run the risk of negative reviews that can seriously damage your listing’s reputation and hurt your ability to maximize vacation rental income. A big part of growing your revenue is eliminating any potential to miss out on it.
Opening as many dates as possible to potential guests is a key unlock in how to make more money on Airbnb, Vrbo, and other top sites. In such a highly competitive vacation rental landscape, blocking just three months of your calendar could result in 28% less annual revenue — and that loss grows as your blocks increase.
Once you’ve unblocked more space for bookings, it’s critical to keep your calendar updated across platforms. Having accurate availability reflected on every site helps guarantee you’re showing up in relevant searches without risking double-booking penalties, which can really hurt your bottom line. On Airbnb, for example, you’ll not only get hit with cancellation fees, but may also lose the ability to re-book those dates and get dinged on your listing’s visibility.
Certain tools can help you manage this yourself. But to really maximize short-term rental revenue, you’ll want to work with a management company like Evolve whose channel marketing strategy also gets you on high-traffic booking sites DIY owners can’t access (like Google Vacation Rental, Expedia, and Hopper Homes) — all while taking the day-to-day calendar maintenance off your plate.
It’s no secret that maximizing your vacation rental income requires you to pull a variety of strategic levers, and one of those is the policies you set — particularly since it’s best to look for ways to influence your performance outside of just changing your rates.
That’s because as market trends shift, so do guest behaviors — and continually evaluating your policies to limit restrictions can appeal to more travelers, open up more days available to book, and bring in extra income.
Adjust your length-of-stay requirements, for example, to accommodate next-day check-ins and fill calendar gaps. Or explore flexible cancellation to open up your property’s visibility — many guests search with “free cancellation” filters applied — and encourage confidence to book (an approach that can lead to 53% more revenue).
Also, don’t forget that traveler trends vary across regions, so you’ll want to lean into what’s important for customers in your market. See if it’s a top destination for pet-friendly vacations, for example, by conducting a search for pet-approved properties near yours. You’ll get a sense of the earning opportunity you’d have when you allow furry friends, and can then consider adjusting your pet policy to cast a wider net for bookings.
Market conditions can change daily, and your rates should pivot just as quickly.
That’s why a dynamic pricing strategy is best. It takes several factors into account (like seasonal trends and the calendar availability of rival listings in your area) to keep your home competitive. Unlike flat or stair step pricing — both more traditional approaches — you can raise rates when demand is high and encourage bookings at lower price points when things slow.
With these best practices in place, you’re way less likely to miss out on year-round earning opportunities. Compared to other rate-setting tactics, owners who make dynamic adjustments can earn up to 40% more annual revenue.
Guests aren’t just looking for the perfect listing — they’re also wanting five-star service throughout their vacation rental experience. From how you interact with them ahead of a stay to the in-home experience you provide, strong hospitality practices drive positive reviews, which greatly influence your property’s performance.
Case in point: our data shows homes with an average rating of 4.5 stars or more can earn 12% more than their lower-rated counterparts. That’s because the vast majority of consumers read reviews before making a buying decision, so a listing with tons of great feedback will likely win their trust over one without. Many booking sites also prioritize listings with stronger ratings in their search results, which means homes with more stars tend to get in front of travelers most often.
To nail your customer service, make sure you communicate quickly and effectively when guests reach out with questions (whether they’re at the property yet or not). Keep your property fully stocked and squeaky clean for every stay. And provide a welcome book and thoughtful gift to help guests feel personally taken care of. Happy guests not only influence the decisions of future travelers, but are more likely to become repeat bookers themselves.
Data shows 78% of travelers won’t leave reviews without solicitation — but 72% of consumers will when asked. This makes it incredibly important to reach out to your guests and proactively gather five-star feedback to maximize revenue.
A day or two after a guest departure, thank them for their stay and kindly request they leave a review. You can make the process even easier by sharing a direct link to the review page, so they don’t need to hunt it down.
And when feedback comes in, be sure to acknowledge them in a timely manner. Future travelers are more likely to book when they see guest comments don’t go neglected — so responding to them quickly can help create even more momentum for your property listing.
If you haven’t already, there’s one more action owners can take to maximize vacation rental income — and that’s partnering with a management company like Evolve. When you team up with our professionals, you unlock access to expert tactics and proven revenue strategies that help level up your business while managing less.
With income-driving moves you can make and Evolve as your strategic partner, there’s nothing standing between you and your highest earning potential this year.